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Publisher's Summary

The "book of the dead" is the morgue log, a ledger in which all cases are entered by hand. For Kay Scarpetta, however, it is about to take on 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 Charleston, South Carolina, she opens a unique private forensic pathology practice, one in which she and her colleagues, including Pete Marino and her niece, Lucy, offer expert crime-scene investigation and autopsy services to communities lacking local access to competent death investigation and modern technology.

It seems like an ideal situation, until the new battles start: with local politicians, with entrenched interests, with someone whose covert attempts at sabotage are clearly meant to run her out of town. And that's before the murders and other violent deaths even begin.

A 16-year-old tennis star, fresh from a tourament win in Charleston, is found nude and mutilated near Piazza Navona in Rome. The body of an abused young boy is discovered dumped in a desolate marsh. A woman is found ritualistically murdered in her multimillion-dollar beach home. Meanwhile, in distant New England, problems with a prominent patient at a Harvard-affiliated psychiatric hospital begin to hint at interconnections that are as hard to imagine as they are horrible.

Scarpetta has dealt with many brutal and unusual crimes before, but never any as baffling, or as terrifying, as the ones confronting her now. Before she is through, that book of the dead will contain many names - and the pen may be poised to write in her own.

Flesh and bone: investigate more of Kay Scarpetta's forensic cases.
©2007 Cornwell Enterprises, Inc; (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

What members say

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  • Overall

Time to end the series

All several characters seemed to do throughout the whole book was to whine. It made their dialogue very boring. Marino's character, whom you started out being sympathetic with in earlier books, is now weak and pathetic. Every time he came back, I groaned and just wanted to rush right through it. You don't like any of the characters left in the book anymore.

The murders are now being described for several pages and are much too graphic. They have left the scientific and now are going for shock value.

I usually leave the books on my ipod to enjoy another time. The Book of the Dead will be the first I have ever taken off.

Maybe it's well past the time to keep the series going.

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Rare Occurrence

It's rare for me not to finish a book. Even more rare, not to get past the prologue. The opening sequence of this book was so distasteful, I stopped listening, and can't muster the interest or enthusiasm to continue past it. Although the Scarpetta novels aren't for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, and I've read most of them, this one struck me as offering up horrific brutality simply for the sake of sensationalism, or, perhaps, to see how far her readers are willing to follow her.

I heard a spoiler for the book on Good Morning America, from Cornwell herself. I won't repeat it here, but I had misgivings about the book based on the revelation. The opening sequence clinched it; this is definitely not a book I'm going to return to in the near future.

As a Cornwell/Scarpetta fan, I'm disappointed in the trends of the last few books, and most disappointed in this latest offering. I recognize the author's license to do as she pleases with her characters and stories, but I'm afraid I can't follow her on this one. I'll be more cautious about the next book as well, if there is one.

One last point: the title has been used for another book, recently published, and for other titles in the more distant past. Is the inability to conceive of a more original title an indication that this line of books is played out?

36 of 37 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

RIP Kay Scarpetta

Patricia Cornwell continues her downhill slide in this latest Kay Scarpetta novel. All the characters we grew to care about in the earlier books - Scarpetta, Wesley, Pete, and Lucy - continue to revel in anger, jealousy, and pettiness. The writing is turgid and repetitive, the conversations between characters is often sophomoric, and the third person narrative only serves to push the characters away. I so enjoyed Cornwell's earlier efforts. This book was a real disappointment.

83 of 87 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jim
  • St. Louis, MO, USA
  • 11-01-07

Painfull !!

Listening to this book is right up there with "root canal surgery" !!! I'm more than half way through and not sure I can make it the rest of the way without "pain killers" !!! Other than the story being really very shallow... the reader uses an accent for Moreno that sounds something like a cross between a Jersey Mobster and a Chicago Teamster. Come on Patricia ... get it together... other authors are passing you by with more intelligent stories and productions. It's just bad... steer clear of this one.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • EvaOB
  • Houston, Texas USA
  • 11-01-07

More Whining

Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta novels have long been some of my favorite. There is no question that Cornwell is unsurpassed when she focuses on the forensic and crime solving aspects of the case. However, Scarpetta has been turned into a whiner -- no one ever respects her, bad things are always happening to her, and she is never happy. Her niece, Lucy, comes across as constantly angry and at some times mean. Pete Marino is an obnoxious, disrespectful drunk. Frankly, there is no one likeable in this book except for poor Rose. I did not finish the last Scarpetta novel because of similar issues.

To Patricia Cornwell: Please re-read your old books and return to your prior writing style. We miss it. And while you are at it, could you let Benton and Kay be happy at least for a while?

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sandy
  • El Cajon, CA, USA
  • 02-06-08

I should have read the reviews first!

I should have read the reviews first, then I would have never downloaded this book. I have read all of the books in this series. The first ones were so great, I keep thinking that the last one wasn't so bad, maybe this will be better. It isn't, save yourself the money and skip it.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sandra
  • Raymore, MO, USA
  • 04-01-08

Sorry to Say this but

I don't like to be too critical about books, we all see them in diffent lights. However, this book was a big disappointment. Slow, rambling, unimaginative, nothing like the author's previous work. I was very angry that I used my credits on what I perceived to be a sure thing, I know not to do that again. I should have read these reviews.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Cindy
  • Phenix City, AL, USA
  • 12-30-08

Book of the Dead

I was totally unprepared for this novel. I have read almost every book she has written as far as the novels about Kay Scarpetta. I must say that this book was not one of her better books. I was disappointed. Patricia Cornwell really has gotten me back to reading again books or audios, it is all the same. I have enjoyed most of her books, but this one really ......a big disappointment. I hope that she can get back into the groove again and especially with the Kay S. series......She needs to get back her groove again and do it soon!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • William
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 12-12-07

A Dead Book and Should Stay That Way

Just plain bad. And the reader made it worse. I have listened to all of PC's Scarpetta books, and this one doesn't even come close to her worst previous book, that wasn't that bad at all. In this one, by destroying a character (who shall remain nameless) the author destroyed herself. The central theme is beyond credulity. I am not even sure she wrote it! It's jumpy, contrived, convoluted, just not up to snuff. It was a chore to listen to.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Donna
  • Saint Louis, MO, United States
  • 11-08-07

Not up to par

I've been a fan for years but feel this book did not live up to previous books. I found it jumping around too much. I had to go back several times to see if I missed something.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful