Read our biography of Patricia Cornwell.


Cruel and Unusual
by Patricia Cornwell

Is it possible that a murderer on death row awaiting his final walk to the electric chair could have committed another murder at exactly the time he was sentenced to die? That is the puzzle that confronts Dr. Kay Scarpetta in Cruel & Unusual, the fourth novel in the series authored by Patricia Cornwell.

Scarpetta is the chief medical examiner for the commonwealth of Virginia and she's had to tackle some pretty difficult cases but his one really has her baffled. Ronnie Joe Waddell deserved to die in the electric chair for the cruel and unusually horrific crimes he'd committed. However, at the very moment he was being executed another kidnap murder takes place that mirrors Waddell's crime pattern. And there's more. One of Waddell's fingerprints is found at the home of a second murder victim who was killed after Waddell had already been executed.

Too many questions swirl around Richmond. Was Waddell really dead or did someone else die in his place in the electric chair? Could he have escaped unnoticed from prison by switching records? Whatever the answers, a killer is on the loose.

Scarpetta uses her knowledge of forensic science to analyze clues but soon she realizes that there has been some sort of sabotage at work. Her computer files have been tampered with and files are missing. It will take more than a microscope to solve this case.

Cruel & Unusual is one of Cornwell's better paced and filled with clues that take the reader all over the map. With its intricate plot, we think that murder mystery fans will find this book an unusually enjoyable edition.

Read our biography of Patricia Cornwell.