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Publisher's Summary

In this fast-paced story, a treacherous path from Kay Scarpetta's past merges with the high-tech highway she now finds herself on. We travel back to the beginning of her professional career, when she enlisted in the Air Force to pay off her medical school debt and found herself ensnared in a gruesome case of what seemed to be vicious, racially motivated hate crimes against two Americans in South Africa.

Now, more than 20 years and many career successes later, her secret military ties have drawn her to Dover Air Force Base, where she has been immersed in a training fellowship to master the art of CT-assisted virtual autopsy - a procedure the White House has mandated that she introduce in the private sector.

As the chief of the new Cambridge Forensic Center in Massachusetts, a joint venture of the state and federal governments and MIT, Scarpetta is confronted with a case that could shut down her new facility and ruin her personally and professionally. A young man drops dead, apparently from a cardiac arrhythmia, eerily close to Scarpetta's new Cambridge home. But when his body is examined the next morning, there are stunning indications that he may have been alive when he was zipped inside a pouch and locked insider the Center's cooler. Various 3-D radiology scans reveal more shocking details about internal injuries unlike any Scarpetta has ever seen. These suggest the possibility of a conspiracy to cause mass casualties. She realizes that she is fighting a cunning and cruel enemy that is invisible as she races against time to discover who and why before more people die.

In Port Mortuary, Patricia Cornwell brings Scarpetta together with Marino, Benton, and Lucy in an intimate way that is reminiscent of the early novels, and we welcome a voice we haven't heard in years. The point of view is Scarpetta's - this is her story.

Flesh and bone: investigate more of Kay Scarpetta's forensic cases.
©2010 Patricia Cornwell (P)2010 Penguin

What members say

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  • Overall

once again angry

While the plot is good, Kay Scapetta's constant anger, resentmet, and certainty that she is at the center of everything that happens, turns a "must read" into a "have to finish". I am not sure what happened, but the Patricia Cornwall I used to love to read, seems to have vanished and left someone full of rag in her place. Really sorry to see her go.

41 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • k.
  • eugene, OR, United States
  • 12-10-10


how sad after so many years to develop scarpetta, her history and her stories, for cornwall to to turn her into a furious toxic, angry character and this book was like being jackhammered for hours upon end. i realized the story and the character were making me feel fact, every major character we have come to know over the decades has become toxic...quite a feat. no more cornwall for me.

40 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Not her best work followed by a very poor narrator

I've read all her novels and I feel the quality of her work declines with each novel and this book was made even worse by the narrator. I'm fairly tolerant of the readers but this was the worst and I struggled to hear the book through to the end. It is all about how wonderful Scarpetta is, how well accomplished a woman she is, etc. etc. Not only did the plot drag on but the narrator made it even worse with her emotional emphasis in all the wrong places. I just started to tune out the story line. My advice, don't spend the money on this one.

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

This series just keeps getting worse...

I haven't enjoyed this series through the last few books, but hoped this would be as good as the initial few books, but this was not even close. Another disappointment. I will not be fooled again.

33 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Barbara
  • Jackson, TN, United States
  • 12-09-10

Not what I expected.

Very negative. Scarpetta seems depressed and paranoid. Don't understand how she gets to be this way in such a short time.

26 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Arthur
  • Bonita Springs, FL, United States
  • 12-11-10

It could have been so good... but

Kate Burton is an excellent reader and the story could have been great if Cornwell hadn't put Scarpetta on such a sad, depressed, paranoid trip.

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I had no idea what was going on thru this eniter book. All of the sudden Kay is in the milatary. Two women killed in South Africa had nothing what so ever to do with the story. I think she wrote this train wreck of a book just so Kay could get a dog. Lucy and Marrino are barley in the story and when they are all she dose is think how much she dosent like Marrino. Kill him off if thats all your going to do with him. I haven't enjoyed any of these books since she bought Benton back from the dead. Should have left him there. Oh and here we are working in another city AGAIN.. I'm not buying anymore of these Scarpetta books

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Poor plot, redundant dialog, no compeling characte

Rambling dialog left me wondering why I bothered listening till the end. The villain is so poorly developed that the plot does not hold together. Waste of time.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


While the story line is a continuation of the previous plots, it really added nothing to character development. The reader was also inconsistent; overly dramatic at times and too bland at others.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Angry Narrator

I've read the Scarpetta novels (early ones especially) and there was so much more depth in those characters -- what happened here? For anyone who has not read Scarpetta, how on earth could they find a character to like? No one to root for. The Scarpetta character reading was angry, angry, all the time. This storyline left me wondering what the heck I just read. Did I miss a chapter somewhere?

I'm very dissapointed with her last two books. Very unfortunate.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful