Excerpt: 'Scarpetta'

Best-selling crime author Patricia Cornwell's latest novel,"Scarpetta," follows Kay Scarpetta as she tries to figure out if a man in a psychiatric prison ward is telling the truth about a murder.

The book has varying twists and turns and all the forensic pathologist knows is one woman is dead and more murders are sure to come. Read an excerpt of "Scarpetta" below, then check out some other books in the "GMA" library.


Brain tissue clung like wet, gray lint to the sleeves of Dr. Kay Scarpetta's surgical gown, and the front of it was splashed with blood. Stryker saws whined, running water drummed, and bone dust sifted through the air like fl our. Three tables were full. More bodies were on the way. It was Tuesday, January 1, New Year's Day.

She didn't need to rush toxicology to know her patient had been drinking before he pulled the shotgun's trigger with his toe. The instant she'd opened him up, she detected the putrid, pungent smell of booze as it breaks down in the body. When she was a forensic pathology resident long years ago, she used to wonder if giving substance abusers a tour of the morgue might shock them into sobriety. If she showed them a head opened up like an egg cup, let them catch the stench of postmortem champagne, maybe they'd switch to Perrier. If only it worked that way.

She watched her deputy chief, Jack Fielding, lift the shimmering block of organs from the chest cavity of a university student robbed and shot at an ATM, and waited for his outburst. During this morning's staff conference, he'd made the incensed comment that the victim was the same age as his daughter, both of them track stars and pre- med. Nothing good happened when Fielding personalized a case.

A picture of Patricia Cornwell.

"We not sharpening knives anymore?" he yelled.

The oscillating blade of a Stryker saw screamed, the morgue assistant opening a skull and yelling back, "Do I look busy?"

Fielding tossed the surgical knife back on his cart with a loud clatter. "How am I supposed to get anything f------ done around here?"

"Good God, somebody get him a Xanax or something." The morgue assistant pried off the skull cap with a chisel.

Scarpetta placed a lung on a scale, using a smartpen to jot down the weight on a smart notepad. There wasn't a ballpoint pen, clipboard, or paper form in sight. When she got upstairs, all she'd have to do is download what she wrote or sketched into her computer, but technology had no remedy for her fluent thoughts, and she still dictated them after she was done and her gloves were off. Hers was a modern medical examiner's office, upgraded with what she considered essential in a world she no longer recognized, where the public believed everything "forensic" it saw on TV, and violence wasn't a societal problem but a war.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...