All That Remains (Kay Scarpetta Series #3)

All That Remains (Kay Scarpetta Series #3)

4.1 150
by Patricia Cornwell

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A serial killer is stalking Virginia's young lovers, taking their lives and taunting police with a single clue: a jack of hearts. For two years, the meaning of this card has eluded FBI investigators. But as Scarpetta begins searching the victims' remains for microscopic clues, she begins to suspect that someone in the FBI knows more about the murderer. See more details below


A serial killer is stalking Virginia's young lovers, taking their lives and taunting police with a single clue: a jack of hearts. For two years, the meaning of this card has eluded FBI investigators. But as Scarpetta begins searching the victims' remains for microscopic clues, she begins to suspect that someone in the FBI knows more about the murderer.

Editorial Reviews

Larry King
A heckuva good thriller. —USA Today
Colorful...sensational...dead on.
Scarpetta uses a microscope in her forensic lab the way Sherlock Holmes wielded a magnifying glass.
Denver Post
Captivating...what a ride!...You'll probably stay up all night turning the pages.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta plays a tense cat-and-mouse game with a serial killer, an old enemy, in her sixth outing (following The Body Farm), and he has her badly rattled. The story begins as a rotten Christmas for Scarpetta: Temple Gault has struck again, leaving a naked, apparently homeless girl shot in Central Park on Christmas Eve; Scarpetta, as the FBI's consulting pathologist, is called in. Later, a transit cop is found shot in a subway tunnel, and, back home in Richmond, Va., the body of a crooked local sheriff is delivered to Scarpetta's own morgue by the elusive, brilliant Gault. The normally unflappable Scarpetta finds herself hyperventilating and nearly shooting her own niece. In the end, some ingenious forensic detective work and a visit to the killer's agonized family set up a high-tech climax back in the New York subway, which Gault treats as the Phantom of the Opera did the sewers of Paris. There's something faintly unconvincing about Gault (in a competitive field, it's tough to create a really horrific serial killer), and Scarpetta, stuck with her own family troubles and involved in a rather glum affair with a colleague, seems to be running low on energy. Still, this is a compelling, fast-moving tale, written in a highly compressed style, and only readers who know that Cornwell can do better are likely to complain. Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild selections. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Cornwell's Dr. Kay Scarpetta is fast becoming everyone's favorite forensic specialist; her latest outing, The Body Farm (LJ 9/1/94), was #2 on the New York Times Best Sellers list. This time, Scarpetta must contend with a serial killer who has breached the FBI's top secret artificial intelligence system.
School Library Journal
YA-- The decomposed bodies of Fred Cheyney and Deborah Harvey don't show up for months, well into Dr. Kay Scarpetta's account of her investigation into their disappearance. The two lovers are the fifth pair in a string of mysterious ``couple murders,'' all bearing the same characteristics: two young people completely vanish, leaving behind an abandoned car and no clues about their fate. Months later the skeletal remains are found by hunters in remote wooded locales, and no evidence about the causes of death can be discovered. At the same time, the FBI appears to be foiling attempts to discover the identity of the murderer by withholding crime-scene information, and Kay's old friend Abby, a newspaper reporter, complicates matters by conducting her own search for the truth. This rich brew makes for a compelling story to which Cornwell has added such stand-bys from her two previous Scarpetta novels as Pete Marino, a middle-aged police detective, and Benton Wesley, an FBI investigator who knows how to keep a secret. Mystery-loving YAs and fans of Cornwell's previous novels will enjoy her latest.-- Carolyn E. Gecan, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA
Emily Melton
eading Cornwell's latest is like riding one of those amusement-park roller coasters. The rider gets on, and the car starts slowly up the first big hill, momentarily hesitating at the top before plunging down, down, and around, leaving the rider gasping and breathless, with trembling limbs and a palpitating heart, exhilarated but shaken, even after the ride is over. Cornwell lulls the reader with a slow start, then builds relentlessly to a heart-stopping climax 400 hundred pages later. Virginia medical examiner Kay Scarpetta once again faces her psychopathic nemesis, Temple Gault, the horrifying, seemingly invincible serial killer. Gault has struck again, this time brutally murdering a young homeless woman in New York's Central Park on Christmas Eve. Gault's also broken into CAIN, the know-all, see-all FBI computer system that Scarpetta's niece, Lucy, has created. And in his uncanny way, Gault has entered Scarpetta's mind, anticipating her every thought and move as he goes about his own drug-induced, psychotic killing games. It takes all Scarpetta's steely courage and mental superiority to stay a step ahead of Gault, to try to stop him before he kills again. From Richmond to New York, Scarpetta, her friend Captain Pete Marino, and her niece Lucy stay hot on Gault's trail, and finally, in a terrifying, knuckle-whitening, breathtaking climax, they trap him deep in the bowels of New York's subway system. Once again, Cornwell proves herself one of today's most talented crime fiction writers, an author who keeps her readers on the edges of their seats with magnificent plotting, masterful writing, and marvelous suspense. This is certain to be one of the most popular thrillers of the year.
Kirkus Reviews
Fresh from her triumphs in Postmortem (1990) and Body of Evidence (1991), Richmond chief medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta tries for the hat trick against a killer who attacks couples in cars—five couples so far, including Fred Cheney and Deborah Harvey, daughter of national drug-czar Pat Harvey. A handful of physical clues—a jack of hearts left at each crime scene, the removal of all the victims' shoes and socks, the similarity of the crimes to an isolated murder eight years ago—are all Kay has to work with as she goes up against not only the killer but also scruffy Det. Pete Marino, falling apart now that his wife's left him; her obsessive friend, reporter Abby Turnbull, who's signed a contract to write a book about the murders; the FBI, who are out to protect a killer they suspect is one of their own officers-in-training; and Mrs. Harvey, determined to punish her daughter's murderer herself. The medical detail—encompassing riddles of when and how as well as who—is as sharp and wide-ranging as ever; and although Cornwell takes a chance on a denouement that lacks the slam-bang impact of her earlier endings, she continues to show one of the most astonishing growth curves in the genre. Thanks to Cornwell's forensic expertise, her corpses continue to speak more eloquently than many crime writers' living characters.

From the Publisher
"Strong action....A gripping forensic mystery....I just love it!" — The New York Times Book Review

"Captivating....what a ride!...You'll probably stay up all night turning the pages." — The Denver Post

"Riveting....compelling....Scarpetta uses a microscope in her lab the way Sherlock Holmes wielded a magnifying glass." — Cosmopolitan

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Kay Scarpetta Series, #3
Product dimensions:
4.22(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.10(d)
870L (what's this?)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Saturday, the last day of August, I started work before dawn. I did not witness mist burning off the grass or the sky turning brilliant blue. Steel tables were occupied by bodies all morning, and there are no windows in the morgue. Labor Day weekend had begun with a bang of car crashes and gunfire in the city of Richmond.

It was two o'clock in the afternoon when I finally returned to my West End home and heard Bertha mopping in the kitchen. She cleaned for me every Saturday and knew from past instruction not to bother with the phone, which had just begun to ring.

"I'm not here," I said loudly as I opened the refrigerator.

Bertha stopped mopping. "It was ringing a minute ago," she said. "Rang a few minutes before that, too. Same man."

"No one's home," I repeated.

"Whatever you say, Dr. Kay." The mop moved across the floor again.

I tried to ignore the disembodied answering machine message intruding upon the sun-washed kitchen. The Hanover tomatoes I took for granted during the summer I began to hoard with the approach of fall. There were only three left. Where was the chicken salad?

A beep was followed by the familiar male voice. "Doc? It's Marino..."

Oh, Lord, I thought, shoving the refrigerator door shut with a hip. Richmond homicide detective Pete Marino had been on the street since midnight, and I had just seen him in the morgue as I was picking bullets out of one of his cases. He was supposed to be on his way to Lake Gaston for what was left of a weekend of fishing. I was looking forward to working in my yard.

"I've been trying to get you, am heading out. You'll have to try mypager..."

Marino's voice sounded urgent as I snatched up the receiver.

"I'm here."

"That you or your goddam machine?"

"Take a guess," I snapped.

"Bad news. They found another abandoned car. New Kent, the Sixty-four rest stop, westbound. Benton just got hold of me ' "

"Another couple?" I interrupted, my plans for the day forgotten.

"Fred Cheney, white male, nineteen. Deborah Harvey, white female, nineteen. Last seen around eight last night when they drove off from the Harveys' Richmond house, on their way to Spindrift."

"And the car's in the westbound lane?" I inquired, for Spindrift, North Carolina, is three and a half hours east of Richmond.

"Yo. Appears they was heading in the opposite direction, back into the city. A trooper found the car, a Jeep Cherokee, about an hour ago, No sign of the kids."

"I'm leaving now," I told him.

Bertha had not stopped mopping, but I knew she had picked up every word.

"Be on my way soon as I finish up in here," she assured me. "I'll lock up and set the alarm. Don't you worry, Dr. Kay."

Fear was running along my nerves as I grabbed my purse and hurried out to my car.

There were four couples so far. Each had disappeared, eventually to be found murdered within a fifty-mile radius of Williamsburg.

The cases, dubbed by the press as The Couple Killings, were inexplicable, and no one seemed to have a clue or credible theory, not even the FBI and its Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, or VICAP, which featured a national data base run on an artificial intelligence computer capable of connecting missing persons with unidentified bodies and linking serial crimes. After the first couple's bodies were found more than two years ago, a VICAP regional team, comprising FBI Special Agent Benton Wesley and veteran Richmond homicide detective Pete Marino, was invited by local police to assist. Another couple would disappear, then two more. In each instance, by the time VICAP could be notified, by the time the National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, could even wire descriptions to police departments across America, the missing teenagers were already dead and decomposing in woods somewhere.

Turning off the radio, I passed through a tollbooth and picked up speed on I-64 East. Images, voices suddenly came back to me. Bones and rotted clothing scattered with leaves. Attractive, smiling faces of missing teenagers printed in the newspapers, and bewildered, distraught families interviewed on television and calling me on the phone.

"I'm so sorry about your daughter."

"Please tell me how my baby died. Oh, God, did she suffer?"

"Her cause of death is undetermined, Mrs. Bennett. There's nothing else I can tell you at this time."

"What do you mean you don't know?"

"All that remains is his bones, Mr. Martin. When soft tissue is gone, gone with it is any possible injury..."

"I don't want to hear your medical bullshit! I want to know what killed my boy! The cops are asking about drugs! My boy's never been drunk in his life, much less taken drugs! You hear me, lady? He's dead, and they're making him out to be some sort of punk..."

"CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER BAFFLED: Dr. Kay Scarpetta Unable to Tell Cause of Death."


Over and over again. Eight young people.

It was awful. It was, in fact, unprecedented for me.

Every forensic pathologist has undetermined cases, but I had never had so many that appeared to be related.

I opened the sunroof and my spirits were lifted somewhat by the weather. The temperature was in the low eighties, leaves would be turning soon. It was only in the fall and spring that I did not miss Miami. Richmond summers were just as hot, without benefit of ocean breezes to sweep the air clean. The humidity was horrible, and in winter I fared no better, for I do not like the cold. But spring and fall were intoxicating. I drank in the change, and it went straight to my head.

The 1-64 rest stop in New Kent County was exactly thirty-one miles from my house.

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