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The Body Farm
by Patricia Cornwell

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Whenever a child is murdered, it is a particularly horrible crime. The Body Farm by Patricia Cornwell begins with a brutal murder of a young girl, Emily Steiner, in North Carolina. The murder seems to be another in a series of kidnaps and murders that has stumped the FBI for years.

Kay Scarpetta, chief medical examiner for the commonwealth of Virginia, is also a consulting pathologist with the FBI's Behavioral Science department and she is asked to join the search for Emily's killer.

Complicating the case is the fact that Kay's own niece, Lucy, who has assisted Kay on cases back in Richmond, is now an intern with the FBI's computer engineering division. Lucy has been accused of a security violation that is causing more than ripples at the Bureau. Although the plot of this mystery novel is not quite up to the standards of other Cornwell efforts, the book does delve more into Kay Scarpetta's personal life. Her affection (and frustration) with her niece, Lucy; her complicated relationship with Capt. Pete Marino; a strained love affair with her FBI lover, Benton Wesley; and the developing personal relationship she has with the victim's mother.

Author Cornwell brings lots of grisly details of the blood and guts of forensic science into her novels. She gained first hand experience from her own work in a medical examiner's office and as a crime reporter in Richmond, Virginia before she embarked on her career as one of the most successful mystery writers in the last few decades. In this novel, Cornwell injects the realism that faces police and forensic investigators from the moment they discover a murder victim to the exhaustive tests undertaken at the University of Tennessee's Decay Research Facility, a.k.a. the Body Farm.

Read our biography of Patricia Cornwell.