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29 March 2014

Book of the Dead
Patricia Cornwell
Publication Date

A Kay Scarpetta Novel 

This is the 15th Scarpetta Novel. Once again, Cornwell does what she does best, taking Forensic Pathologist Scarpetta to solve a murder.

From the blurb:

The 'Book of the Dead' is the morgue log. The ledger in which all cases are entered by hand. For Kay Scarpetta, however, it is about to have a new meaning.
Fresh from her bruising battle with a psychopath in Florida, Scarpetta decides it's time for a change of pace. Moving to the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina, she opens a unique private forensic pathology practice, one in which she and her colleagues offer expert crime scene investigations and autopsies to communities lacking local access to competent death investigation and modern technology. It seems like an ideal situation, until the murders and other violent deaths begin. 
A woman is ritualistically murdered in her multi-million-dollar beach home. the body of an abused young boy is found dumped in a desolate march. A sixteen-year-old tennis star is found nude and mutilated near Piazza Navona in Rome.
Scarpetta has dealt with many brutal and unusual crimes before, but never a string of them as baffling, or as terrifying as the ones before her now. Before she is through, that book of dead will contain many more names - and the pen may be poised to write her own.

For fans of this genre, this is a must read - the same schemata as always, with the forensic pathologist Scarpetta investigating violent and unusual murders which seem to follow her, and this is interwoven with the personal life of Scarpetta and those close to her, particularly her niece Lucy (nice to see a gay character). A host of characters who all play their part, including the mad psychiatrist Dr Self and creepy funeral directors who have stuff to hide. Part of the appeal of series like this who have been running for a long time and with many books is the familiarity. You know what you are going to get. If you are expecting something new and revolutionary here - don't. The book kept me hooked though and guessing 'whodunnit' to the end. Cornwell certainly knowns how to create suspense. 

One thing you may need to be aware of is that there is child abuse / child murder in this book, which can be hard to stomach at times (some direct descriptions of the bodies). So if this upsets you, you may want to approach with caution. I suspect that if you do read this kind of novel you may be ok with this sort of thing but I thought I give this little warning. 

Oh, and we actually really do have a handwritten log in our mortuary of the bodies coming in…. It's mainly a log to say when they came in, in what fridge, any clothing/jewellery and than it gets 'crossed out' when the body gets clearance from the Coroner to leave. I don't think we call it the book of dead though.