Body of Evidence
- Author: Patricia Cornwell
- Genre: Mystery
- Publication Date: February 5, 1991
- Publisher: Scribner Book Company
- Series: Kay Scarpetta #2
CONTENT WARNING: murder, blood, gore, mention of rape, stalking, homophobic slurs, suicide, mention of molestation, violence
Reclusive author Beryl Madison finds no safe haven from months of menacing phone calls — or the tormented feeling that her every move is being watched. When the writer is found slain in her own home, medical examiner Kay Scarpetta pieces together the intricate forensic evidence — while unwittingly edging closer to a killer waiting in the shadows.
I was excited to read this book after finishing the first book in the series. Excited enough to take out the only copy that my library had, which was in large print, rather than wait for another library to send a regular print copy over. And while I discovered that I do not, in fact, enjoy reading large print books at this time, it didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying this book.
We’re thrown right back into the busy, chaotic, and occasionally dangerous world of Dr. Kay Scarpetta. While I never really thought about what a medical examiner does other than autopsies, this book really clarifies how much leeway that she has to actually investigate cases. Her job takes place in the morgue and the offices, but a lot of her work also gets done out of the office setting. This series is so interesting because she interacts with people, and conducts her own investigation alongside law enforcement. It was fascinating to see how her mind works as she uncovers information and makes connections:
“‘Kay, the Code reads that the medical examiner shall make an investigation into the cause and manner of death and reduce his findings to writing. This is very broad. It gives you full investigative powers. The only thing you can’t do is actually arrest somebody.’”
Obviously we get to know Kay pretty well over the course of the last book and this one. Probably why I feel so comfortable referring to her as ‘Kay,” but that’s besides the point. She’s a complicated person, but I could also identify with what she was thinking as she found herself more deeply entangled in this case. And she continues to work closely with Detective Marino, but their dynamic has been dramatically changed since we first met him in the first book.
“The longer I knew Marino, the more he had begun subjecting me to show-and-tell. In part I attributed this phenomenon to his saving my life, a horrific event that had served to bond us into an unlikely pair.”
Throughout the course of the book, Marino makes a number of unflattering comments using homophobic slurs. I’m aware that this book was printed in 1991, when this was a much more common sentiment, and some of the story is set in a location where the AIDS epidemic is raging. The views expressed by Marino are shared by more than a few people in law enforcement, and while I personally raged against these views, I appreciated that Kay also pushed back against these views. She explicitly stated her own views on the gay community, and I thought that this was probably the most beautiful way to say it:
“The older I got, the more I was of the opinion that love can be experienced in many different ways. There is no right or wrong way to love, only in how it is expressed.”
This story is fascinating, as always. The pace is fast, and there’s action without it being overwhelming. I got wrapped up in the story and finished it incredibly quickly, racing through the pages to find out what was going to happen next. Naturally, I have already requested the next book in the series, since I’m hooked.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 15
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