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First Large Print edition.
New York : Random House Large Print, 1999.
Physical Description:
527 pages (large print) ; 24 cm
Series title(s):
Number in series:
The death of a stowaway on a Belgian cargo ship leads Dr. Kay Scarpetta to Interpol headquarters, a Paris Morgue and finally home to Virginia.


Call Number
Cornwell, P.

On Order



Newly repackaged in a tall Premium Edition, this #1 "New York Times" bestseller finds Dr. Kay Scarpetta on an international mission that will pull her in two opposite directions. Includes a new Introduction by Cornwell. Reissue.

Author Notes

Patricia Cornwell was born in Miami, Florida on June 9, 1956. When she was nine years old, her mother tried to give her and her two brothers to evangelist Billy Graham and his wife to care for. For a while the children lived with missionaries since their mother was unable to care for them.

After graduating from Davidson College in 1979, she worked for The Charlotte Observer eventually covering the police beat and winning an investigative reporting award from the North Carolina Press Association for a series of articles on prostitution and crime in downtown Charlotte. Her award-winning biography of Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of Billy Graham, A Time for Remembering, was published in 1983. From 1984 to 1990, she worked as a technical writer and a computer analyst at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia. While working for the medical examiner, she began to write novels. Although the award-winning novel Postmortem was initially rejected by seven different publishers, once it was published in 1990 it became the only novel ever to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity awards as well as the French Prix du Roman d'Adventure, in one year.

She is the author of the Kay Scarpetta series, the Andy Brazil series, and the Winston Garano series. She has also written two cookbooks entitled Scarpetta's Winter Table and Food to Die For; a children's book entitled Life's Little Fable; and non-fiction works like Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

It's like a splash of cold water on a hot day to be plunged, after the irritating third-person satire of Cornwell's last novel, Southern Cross (1998), back into the bracing narration of medical examiner Kay Scarpetta. As in the nine Scarpettas past (Point of Origin, etc.), here it's not the novel's events, startling as they are, that propel the story so much as the deep-hearted responses of Kay, as real a hero as any in thriller fiction, to the "evil"Äher wordÄthat threatens. Evil wears several faces here, from petty to monstrous. Most insidious is the office sabotageÄinsubordination, thefts, fraudulent e-mailsÄthat's making the grieving Kay look as if she's lost her grip since her lover's murder in Point of Origin. More destructive are the overt attempts by calculating Richmond, Va., deputy police chief Diane Bray to ruin Kay's career as well as that of Kay's old friend, Capt. Pete Marino. Then there's the wild rage at life that's consuming Kay's niece, a DEA agent. FinallyÄthe plot wire that binds the sometimes scattered plotÄthere are the mutilation killings by the French serial killer self-styled "Loup-Garou"Äwerewolf. The forensic sequences boom with authority; the brief action sequences explode on the pageÄin the finale, overbearingly so; the interplay between Kay and Marino is boisterous as always, and there's an atmospheric sidetrip to Paris and an affecting romantic misadventure for lonely Kay. A thunderhead of disquietude hangs over this compulsively readable novel, sometimes loosing storms of suspense; but to Cornwell's considerable credit, the unease arises ultimately not from the steady potential for violence, but from a more profound horror: the vulnerability of a good woman like Kay to a world beset by the corrupt, the cruel, the demonic. One million first printing; $750,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild main selections; unabridged and abridged audio versions; foreign rights sold in eight countries. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta has never liked Christmas, and this year, when she's still mourning the death of her FBI lover Benton Wesley (Point of Origin, 1998), looks like her worst holiday season ever. While she can't identify or name the exact cause of death, the corpse found in a sealed shipping container aboard a cargo ship from Belgium is the least of her problems'even though Cornwell leads from strength by presenting one of her most extended (and unnerving) postmortems. Just as Scarpetta and her longtime police ally Capt. Pete Marino are running into industrial-strength flak from Richmond's new Deputy Chief, ambitious, manipulative Diane Bray, someone in Scarpetta's office is sabotaging her more underhandedly: a series of petty thefts is only the nuisance that finally awakens her to a fraud countermanding her orders and masquerading as her over the Internet. And her niece Lucy Farinelli, an agent working out of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms' Miami office, is undercover with a bunch of seriously bad people. The web of evil that binds all these plots together (think drug smuggling; think Interpol; think werewolves) isn't believable for a minute, but expertly mired in Scarpetta's fathomless professional battles, you won't have a minute to think about it till you've turned the last page. It's fascinating to watch Scarpetta and her supporting cast, instead of growing, like V.I. Warshawski, become more and more themselves, like Sherlock Holmes'especially in such a brilliantly paced adventure as this one. (1,000,000 first printing; Literary Guild/Mystery Guild main selection; $750,000 ad/promo)

Library Journal Review

Kay Scarpetta's on the case when the body of a stowaway is found in a sealed container on a ship arriving in Richmond from Belgium. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.