$25.95, 352 pp.
Review by Harriet Klausner
When a dismembered body minus its extremities and a head is found at a garbage dump, Virginia's chief medical examiner, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, thinks it is the work of a serial killer, who has mutilated nine other victims. Upon completing a comprehensive autopsy, Kay concludes that this is not the work of the serial killer, but a brilliant individual trying to disguise the murder as if it was. Kay is drawn deeper into the case when the perpetrator, calling himself Deaddoc, contacts her via AOL to showcase actual scenes of the dismemberment. It is obvious that the culprit has fixated on Kay, knowing information about her personal and professional lives that no stranger would normally know.
As Kay struggles to learn who she is dealing with and why, the killer reveals the logic behind his deadly game. On a small island off the Virginia coast, a woman is discovered dead, the victim of a smallpox-like virus. Evidence links Deaddoc's victim to that of the deceased female. It becomes clear that the law enforcement officials are dealing with a diabolical fiend who has the means to unleash a new plague upon mankind. Kay and company desperately try to catch a maniac before he can unleash his deadly plan. She comes to grip with her own mortality, an epiphany that will change her life if she is fortunate to live long enough to do something about it.
This is simply a brilliant work by a writer who is at the acme of her talent. Patricia Cornwell delivers a heart-thumping medical thriller that has a thrill a minute. She also provides new insight into characters that readers thought they knew and understood completely. Unnatural Exposure allows readers to enter the heart and mind of Scarpetta in a way rarely seen in fiction. This provides a new comprehension as to what motivates her to be so driven without seeming to enjoy life. This novel is another winner from the premier writer of the genre today.
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