Review: Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell

Title: Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell
Kay Scarpetta Series Book 25
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 408 pages
Book Rating:

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


In this relaunch of the electrifying, landmark #1 bestselling thriller series, chief medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta hunts those responsible for two wildly divergent and chilling murders. 

Forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta has come almost full circle, returning to Virginia as the chief medical examiner, the state where she launched her storied career. Finding herself the new girl in town once again after being away for many years, she’s inherited not only an overbearing secretary, but also a legacy of neglect and potential corruption.

She and her husband Benton Wesley, now a forensic psychologist with the U.S. Secret Service, have relocated to Old Town Alexandria where she’s headquartered five miles from the Pentagon in a post-pandemic world that’s been torn by civil and political unrest. Just weeks on the job, she’s called to a scene by railroad tracks where a woman’s body has been shockingly displayed, her throat cut down to the spine, and as Scarpetta begins to follow the trail, it leads unnervingly close to her own historic neighborhood.

At the same time, a catastrophe occurs in a top-secret laboratory in outer space, endangering at least two scientists aboard. Appointed to the highly classified Doomsday Commission that specializes in sensitive national security cases, Scarpetta is summoned to the White House and tasked with finding out exactly what happened. But even as she works the first potential crime scene in space remotely, an apparent serial killer strikes again very close to home.


Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell is a thrilling mystery starring medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta.

Kay and her husband Benson Wesley have returned to Virginia and they have barely unpacked before she is hard at work. Now the chief medical examiner for the state, Kay is also doing clean up from her predecessor’s tendency to sweep cases under the rug for political reasons. While she has competent staff, her secretary, Maggie, is a holdover from the last CME and she is used to running the office her way. Kay is trying to be patient, but she fears she cannot trust Maggie. Kay brushes aside her misgivings as she works on her newest victim who turns out to be a neighbor of her sister Dorothy and her husband, former police officer turned private detective Pete Marino.

Just as Kay’s victim has been identified and the forensic team are searching for evidence, she and Benson are called to the White House for a top-secret meeting. A strange turn of events at secret laboratory in space calls for Kay’s expertise. This investigation also turns up an unexpected link that leaves more questions than answers.

Autopsy is an intriguing mystery with fascinating yet seemingly disparate story arcs. Kay and Pete team up just like old times as they easily slip into their former rhythm working together. Benson’s job as a forensic psychologist for the Secret Service gives him a mysterious air. Kay is concerned about her niece Lucy whose life has been touched by the Covid pandemic. Kay faces a political quagmire at the M.E. office as a situation with someone from her past is a source of increasing tension.  The storyline is fast-paced as Kay and Pete try to find evidence a serial killer might responsible for Gwen’s murder. Although Patricia Cornwell brings the mystery to shockingly fast denouement, the epilogue is sure to satisfy readers. Although this latest release is the twenty-fifth installment in the Kay Scarpetta series, it can easily be read as a standalone. However, I highly recommend the entire series.

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