Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Book Review of Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell

Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell book cover

I have been a fan of author Patricia Cornwell for many years. I am particularly fond of her Kay Scarpetta series. The main character, Kay, is a medical examiner/forensic pathologist primarily based in Virginia where the majority of these crime novels take place. 

I am a mystery/crime novel fan. I became interested in Cornwell's Scarpetta Novels when the series began in 1990 because at the time I was working for a Medical Examiner. I have followed character Kay Scarpetta, medical examiner, through all 25 books in the series. Book #25 grabbed my attention immediately. Not only was it the latest in the Scarpetta Novel Series, but the title AUTOPSY really appealed to me. You see, I used to type my medical examiner boss's Autopsy Reports! This may not appeal to everyone, but I loved my job and was fascinated with both the pathology and the back-story to each case my boss, County Medical Examiner Dr. D., was involved in. Even the scene investigations were interesting. 

*Writer's Note: My M.E. boss even met Author Patricia Cornwell at a medical examiner's convention around the early days of her writing career. 

Synopsis of Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell 

Autopsy book cover
Two widely different and chilling murders occupy forensic pathologist Dr. Kay Scarpetta as she returns to Virginia to become the Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Kay and her husband, Benton Wesley, former FBI Profiler and now a forensic psychologist with the U.S. Secret Service, have relocated to Old Town, Alexandria which puts them close to both to the headquarters of the Chief Medical Examiner's Office and to the Pentagon in Washington DC. where Benton works. It is a different post-pandemic world filled with much unrest.

Crime scene tape - do not cross
Image Source: Pixabay

The first case involves a woman's body found shockingly displayed near railroad tracks in a U.S. Park. Eventual identification of the victim brings the trail unnervingly close to Kay's own historic neighborhood. Helping her with the investigation are Pete Marino, former homicide detective who has assisted her on cases for many years, and Lucy, her niece, who is FBI-trained and a whiz on computers.

As the investigation continues, they discover that another young woman was killed in a near-duplicate fashion and found in a similar location. Kay determines that the cases most-likely are connected, even though the first case was signed out as an accidental drowning. 

spaceship in space
Image Source: Pixabay

At the same time, a catastrophe occurs in a top secret laboratory in space, endangering at least two scientists aboard. Kay and her husband Benton are called to the White House for a meeting of the classified Doomsday Commission they work with which specializes in sensitive national security cases. As they work remotely with the first potential crime scene in space, an apparent serial killer strikes again very close to home. 


Autopsy will keep you on the edge of your seat with the shocking twists and deep tension as these cases reach a conclusion. The forensic details are fascinating to those of us readers who enjoy this type of crime story. 

Of Additional Interest... Comet Pictures & Blumhouse have secured the rights to The Scarpetta Series. The books will be adapted to an hour-long TV drama series. The main character, Kay Scarpetta, will be played by Jamie Lee Curtis. Being so familiar with all the Kay Scarpetta stories, I cannot think of a better actress to play the part of the main character. It's perfect, and I look forward to the TV series as much as I look forward to each book in the Scarpetta Novel series. 

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*Review of the book Autopsy written by Wednesday Elf 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. Okay, I'm sold on this book. My other half was a tech in the Pathology labs at a major hospital and this would be right up our alley (so to speak). Going to put it on my Must Read Soon List. Thanks Pat!

    1. I loved working in Pathology and for a Medical Examiner, Olivia. Probably why I like reading murder mysteries so much. Hope you enjoy this book.

  2. This definitely sounds like a gripping book series. How cool that it will soon become a tv series. It will be quite interesting to see which you prefer, although I suspect I already know. I love comparing the books to movies to check accuracy. Too often, I am disappointed in a movie or tv adaption. I always tell myself it is probably because they don't have as long to develop the characters. There really is nothing compared to an excellent book!

    1. Mouse, you should look online for an image of Author Patricia Cornwell and Jamie Lee Curtis (they are good friends) and you will be amazed (as I was) how much they look alike. I always thought of Patricia Cornwell as not just the author, but as her character herself because Cornwell looks the way I picture Kay Scarpetta in my mind. So, to have lookalike Jamie Lee Curtis play the part of the main character in the upcoming TV series is perfect. Yes, it will be interesting to see how the series resembles the books. TV did a good job with 'Bones' (adaptation of Kathy Reichs' Tempe Brennan series).

  3. I have always enjoyed the Kay Scarpetta series of Patricia Cornwell. I will have to be sure to read this one.

    1. I think you'll like it, Mary Beth, if you've been following her all along. In this book, Kay returns to Virginia as the Chief Medical Examiner.

  4. This sounds like an absolutely riveting read for fans of this genre! Given your enthusiastic recommendation and experience typing up autopsy reports in an ME’s office, I’m sure this novel contains a lot of authentic details that make it chillingly believable. Thanks for a terrific review!

    1. Bought back some great memories of my days working in the Medical Examiner's office. :) Really loved that job -- and my boss was the best!

  5. You used to type Autopsy Reports! Omg, I can see why this type of book would appeal to you. As gruesome as it can be (I image), I'll be the informational side of it was interesting to learn about. The books sounds excellent, and honestly is an idea for a friend of mine (as a gift) - I think she'd find this interesting.

  6. I just finished reading this based on your review. Thanks for the recommendation. Wouldn't it be fascinating to have Scarpetta in your life? I would love to spend some time in real life with her (and her creator).


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