Mystery Series Reviews | Postmortem

Patricia Daniels Cornwell, Kay Scarpetta #1

Postmortem by Patricia D Cornwell cover

This series takes us back to the United States, specifically, Richmond, Virginia. Dr. Kay Scarpetta had just been appointed as the Chief Medical Examiner (CME) for the State of Virginia just two years earlier. The call that came in at 2:33 on an early Saturday morning was letting her know that there was a fourth murder that, as chief and due to the nature of the first three incidents, she needed to be involved. Sergeant Pete Marino was on the other end of the line. He was condescending and perhaps a little begrudgingly helpful.

Ms. Cornwell begins this series on a fast paced note, giving the reader a quick rundown of the main players: Dr. Scarpetta, Sergeant Marino, and Dr. Scarpetta’s ten-year-old niece, Lucy, visiting from Florida. The stage is set for both accomplishments and regrets to build up in Dr. Scarpetta’s life – accomplishments in that horrific crimes are solved and regrets for how her position as CME impacts her relationship with Lucy.

This fourth incident was stacking up to being very similar to the first three. Of course, murder is never pleasant, and this one is no exception. The victims were women, married, professionals. This most recent victim’s husband had been out of town. The perpetrator found a way through the bathroom window. In a terrifyingly short time, multiple lives were drastically and forever changed.

This series is fast-paced and can be considered as “thriller” material. It includes medical information and descriptions, along with forensic details, and the partnering with law enforcement. As with the other series that I have reviewed, you, the reader, have the opportunity to follow the lives of the main characters, their passions, joys, foibles, and vulnerabilities.

Up next:  The Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr

Harriet Engle, a Staff Assistant at the Manheim Community Library, is an avid reader of several authors who write murder mystery series. Look for her weekly reviews highlighting each of these series.

Note: If you decide to start one of the series being reviewed and wish to read the next in the series, go to, type in the author, and scroll down to see which book was written next under that series. The Manheim Community Library may not have the book you want, but staff will be happy to order it for you from another library.

You can also find and request the next book in the series right from the LSLC catalog. Search the book you have just read from the search bar at the top right of Click on the title to open up the book information and then scroll down to the section marked “Series”. At a glance, you can see the series and where the book you searched is in the series. For series of more than 14 titles, click on the button below that says “See Full Series”. To request another title from this section, just click on the cover and it will take you to the screen to request a copy from the Library System of Lancaster County to be delivered to Manheim Community Library (or another library in the LSLC.)

 (If you do not see the full description that includes the “Series” section, you can also click on the book cover. This will bring you to a screen with a blue header and the book cover. Click on the link for Series and it will bring you to a list of all the books in that series. You will need to go back to the catalog to search and request it this way, though.)