Read our biography of Patricia Cornwell.


by Patricia Cornwell

After 5 years, Dr. Kay Scarpetta continues to nurse seeds of personal bitterness. Fired from her prestigious and powerful position as Chief Medical Examiner of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Scarpetta tried to convince herself that she'd moved on. She reasoned that she had let go of the past and gone forward to create a rewarding and exciting new life as a forensic consultant in Florida.

Let the dead rest in peace. Forget the past. Move on. Of course, it's always easier said than done. Moving on for Kay Scarpetta, a women driven by pride and fierce independence, is not quite so easy, it seems.

While it's true that Scarpetta had been unfairly pressured by the then-Governor to leave her job as the Chief Medical Examiner in Virginia, there were personal demons and illusive ghosts calling her back to Richmond. Back in Virginia she would come face-to-face with murderous death once again. Personal ghosts, and the corpse of a 14-year old girl, Gilly Paulsson, summoned Scarpetta, against her better judgment, to return to her old department to solve a puzzling, and oddly personal, case that reeked of revenge.

Kay Scarpetta returns to Richmond just in time to see her old headquarters fall under a final assault from the wrecking ball. After a 5-year absence, her former lab seems disorganized at best. She has agreed to serve as a consultant to the very man who was chosen as her successor as Chief M.E., Dr. Joel Marcus. Not an easy thing for Scarpetta to accept and, apparently, not a situation that is simple for Dr. Marcus either.

The new (and very inept Chief M.E.), is clearly resentful of Scarpetta's renowned insights into forensic truths. However, it is more than jealousy that is behind Dr. Marcus' overt animosity toward Kay Scarpetta. Marcus is also searching for a convenient scapegoat to keep the Virginia police, F.B.I., and the Department of Homeland Security off his own back during a turbulent time within the Medical Examiner's department.

While Kay Scarpetta keeps asking herself just why on earth she ever agreed to take the case, her usual colleagues in crime (her niece Lucy and Kay's lover, Benton Wesley) seem too preoccupied to give Scarpetta any assistance on the Paulsson murder. Lucy and Benton, both of whom work for the F.B.I., are keenly focused on tracking down a maniacal stalker who brutally attacks without warning and seemingly leaves no trace of his crime nor trail of clues to follow.

Scarpetta must investigate the murder of Gilly Paulsson on her own. At first, Gilly's death was attributed to a case of pneumonia but, in fact, the girl was the victim of a serial killer. While Scarpetta tracks down forensic evidence to complete her puzzle, she's in conflict about her personal life or, truth be told, the lack of a personal life. In her dedication to be the advocate for the victims of crime, Scarpetta has shut her personal life down as coldly as a morgue.

Plots and subplots collide faster than bumper cars at an amusement park in this thrilling mystery novel. Scarpetta realizes that it's up to her to follow the myriad of clues, using all the forensic science that she is famous for, to bring justice to light for Gilly Paulsson.

Trace is another star in Patricia Cornwell's amazing string of award-winning mysteries. The fast-paced and layered story line will bring thrills to longtime Cornwell readers, as well as intrigue fans of today's hot C.S.I. television franchise.

Read our biography of Patricia Cornwell.