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Cornwell, Patricia

scarpetta post lucy niece

(US, 1957– )

Patricia Cornwell worked as a crime reporter and morgue computer analyst before introducing Dr Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner, in Post-Mortem (1990). The series of psychological thrillers has been extremely successful, not least because of Scarpetta's well-drawn character; she is ambitious, dedicated, intelligent, but vulnerable as well. A cast of supporting characters includes her young and gifted niece Lucy and grouchy cop Pete Marino. Cornwell gives us all the gruesome details of post-mortems and the painstaking work of the subsequent forensic investigations. The stories are well plotted and compelling, each building to a tremendous climax. It is Christmas time in Cruel and Unusual (1993) but no holiday for Scarpetta; she has to do a post-mortem on an executed convict then a young boy is found mutilated. On top of all this someone is sabotaging her work and her precocious niece Lucy has landed for the Christmas break.

Jonathan Kellerman, Lynda La Plante. See CRIME, THRILLERS  CS

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