From the Publisher
"Among the grittiest of this season's crime novels...convincing...chilling."— Time
"All the pacing and suspense Cornwell fans have come to expect."— People
"Reminiscent of The Silence of the Lambs. Her writing is masterful."— Booklist
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Cornwell ( Body of Evidence ; All That Remains ) casts a wider, surer narrative net in the latest case set for her increasingly complex heroine, Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia. As an FBI consultant, Scarpetta investigates the North Carolina murder of 11-year-old Emily Steiner, whose mutilation suggests the M.O. of an escaped killer met previously in Cruel and Unusual. Forensic clues from the body's second autopsy prompt Scarpetta to request that certain experiments be made at the University of Tennessee's Decay Research Facility, known as the Body Farm. Meanwhile, she, Pete Marino of the Richmond, Va., police, and her new love interest, FBI Unit Chief Benton Wesley investigate the apparent suicide (from autoerotic asphyxiation) of the local FBI agent in charge of the case. Then, Scarpetta's computer-whiz niece Lucy, working at FBI headquarters at Quantico, is charged with violating security. During her travels between North Carolina and Virginia, Scarpetta worries about both the less-than-forthcoming Lucy and Marino, who becomes emotionally entangled with Emily's beautiful stricken mother. Results at the Body Farm lead her to a convincing, if abrupt, resolution. Deeper characterization and a more intricate plot mark this fifth in a consistently compelling series. 500,000 first printing; paperback rights to Berkley; audio rights to Simon & Schus ter; Literary Guild selection. (Oct.)
Following the disappointing Cruel and Unusual (Scribner, 1993), one wondered whether Cornwell was getting bored with her popular Kay Scarpetta series. After all, that novel featured a tired, confused plot and cardboard characters. But, happily, Cornwell is back at the top of her form here. Sure, there are still the red herrings and the plot contrivances, but what makes The Body Farm stand out is the deeper characterizations, especially in the depiction of Scarpetta's relationship with her troubled niece, Lucy. "It seems this is all about people loving people who don't love them back," says Scarpetta, referring to the murder of an 11-year-old girl, which she is investigating as an FBI consultant. But this is also the novel's haunting theme: homicide detective Pete Morino, jealous of Scarpetta's affair with FBI Unit Chief Benton Wesley, becomes involved with the dead girl's mother; Lucy, in love with a calculating fellow FBI student, is accused of violating agency security. Emotionally satisfying reading. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/94.]-Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"
Cornwell's name on the cover of a book virtually guarantees both instant best-seller status and enthusiastic raves from reviewers and readers alike. Her latest story is no exception, as popular heroine Dr. Kay Scarpetta is called in to help investigate the brutal slaying of an 11-year-old girl. Scarpetta believes the child may have been the victim of Temple Gault, a macabre, demented serial killer who remains at large despite Scarpetta's determined efforts to track him down. It turns out that Scarpetta is at least partly right about Gault, but the child's death is more complicated and horrifying than even the I can't be surprised anymore Scarpetta can imagine. Cornwell's plot is visceral, graphic, and frightening in a way that's vaguely reminiscent of "Silence of the Lambs". Her writing is masterful, and she provides evocative backgrounds, provocative characters, and enough ghoulish specifics about autopsies and dead bodies to induce weeks of nightmares. Scarpetta, as usual, is a tenacious, principled investigator who's the one voice of reason in a story fraught with bizarre unreason. This deserves a place in every mystery collection.