Best-selling American author Patricia Cornwell doesn’t really need an introduction. Her series about the investigations of medical examiner Kay Scarpetta turned this former reporter into one of the biggest names on the literary scene, and one of the most influential.
Dr. Kay Scarpetta is a forensic pathologist who uses her expertise to solve crimes – that’s why Patricia Cornwell tirelessly researches cutting-edge forensic technologies to include in her work. The series has been highly successful and has won numerous awards, including the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity awards. In addition to the Scarpetta series, Cornwell has also written several standalone novels and crime series, a children’s book, and some works of non-fiction, the most famous one being an exploration into Jack the Ripper’s murders.
How to read Patricia Cornwell’s Books in Order?
The Kay Scarpetta Reading Order
Kay Scarpetta was the Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia and works in Richmond. She eventually resigned before relocating to Florida … before another career change. For more information, go to the article dedicated to the Kay Scarpetta series.
- Postmortem (1990)
- Body of Evidence (1991)
- All That Remains (1992)
- Cruel and Unusual (1993)
- The Body Farm (1994) – Inspired by the real Body Farm.
- From Potter’s Field (1995)
- Cause of Death (1996)
- Unnatural Exposure (1997)
- Point of Origin (1998)
- Scarpetta’s Winter Table (1998)
- Black Notice (1999)
- The Last Precinct (2000)
- Blow Fly (2003)
- Trace (2004)
- Predator (2005)
- Book of the Dead (2007)
- Scarpetta (2008)
- The Scarpetta Factor (2009)
- Port Mortuary (2010)
- Red Mist (2011)
- The Bone Bed (2012)
- Dust (2013)
- Flesh and Blood (2014)
- Depraved Heart (2015)
- Chaos (2016)
- Livid (2022)
- Unnatural Death (2023)
The Andy Brazil / Judy Hammer series in order
A series about a dynamic trio of crime solvers in Charlotte, North Carolina: Andy Brazil, an eager young reporter; Judy Hammer, the city’s police chief; and Virginia West, Hammer’s deputy.
- Hornet’s Nest (1996) – Deputy Chief Virginia West likes and respects her boss, Hammer, but with an increasing number of visiting businessmen being murdered in her city by a maniac with a penchant for painting his victims bright orange, she finds it hard to accept Hammer’s edict that a rookie reporter should ride on patrol with her to better relations with their citizens. Her worst fears are confirmed when the reporter, Brazil, presses the button to activate the boot-release rather than the siren on their first outing. He’s not the only blight on her life right now: her cat’s angsty, her hormones are misbehaving. her opposite member in the uniformed division is behaving like a jackass, the radio despatched is determined to trip her up, the D.A. is in the middle of a hot battle with Hammer and the visiting judge’s bladder problems are causing havoc with the trial schedule. And orange-colored corpses keep turning up on her patch.
- Southern Cross (1998) – Charlotte Police Chief Judy Hammer has been brought by an NIJ grant to clean up the police force. Reeling from the recent death of her husband, and resented by the police force, city manager, and mayor of Richmond, Hammer is joined by her deputy chief Virginia West and rookie Andy Brazil on the most difficult assignment of her career. In the face of overwhelming public scrutiny, the trio must bring truth, order, and sanity to a city in trouble.
- Isle of Dogs (2001) – Chaos breaks loose when the governor of Virginia orders that speed traps be painted on all streets and highways, and warns that speeders will be caught by monitoring aircraft flying overhead. But the eccentric island of Tangier, fourteen miles off the coast of Virginia in Chesapeake Bay, responds by declaring war on its own state. Judy Hammer, newly installed as the superintendent of the Virginia State Police, and Andy Brazil, a state trooper and Hammer’s right hand and confidant, find themselves at their wits’ end as they try to protect the public from the politicians-and vice versa-in this pitch-perfect, darkly comic romp.
The Win Garano series in order
A series about Massachusetts state investigator Win Garano from Knoxville, Tennessee.
- At Risk (2006) – Massachusetts state investigator Win Garano is called home from Knoxville, Tennessee, where he is completing a course at the National Forensic Academy. His boss, the district attorney, attractive but hard-charging, is planning to run for governor, and as a showcase she’s planning to use a new crime initiative called At Risk-its motto: “Any crime, any time.” In particular, she’s been looking for a way to employ cutting-edge DNA technology, and she thinks she’s found the perfect subject in an unsolved twenty-year-old murder in Tennessee. If her office solves the case, it ought to make them all look pretty good, right?
- The Front (2008) – DA Monique Lamont has a special job for Massachusetts state investigator Win Garano. As part of a new public relations campaign about the dangers of declining neighborhoods, Lamont is sending Win to Watertown to come up with a “drama,” and she thinks she knows just the case that will serve. Garano is skeptical because he knows that Watertown is also the home base for a loose association of municipal police departments called the FRONT, set up so they aren’t dependent on the state-much to Lamont’s anger. Win senses a much deeper agenda-but has no idea just how deep it goes. In the days that follow, he’ll find Lamont’s task. and the places it leads him, will resemble a house of mirrors.
The Captain Chase series in order
A series about Captain Calli Chase, a NASA pilot, quantum physicist, and cybercrime investigator…
- Quantum (2019) – On the eve of a top-secret space mission, Captain Calli Chase detects a tripped alarm in the tunnels deep below a NASA research center. A NASA pilot, quantum physicist, and cybercrime investigator, Calli knows that a looming blizzard and government shutdown could provide the perfect cover for sabotage, with deadly consequences. As it turns out, the danger is worse than she thought. A spatter of dried blood, a missing security badge, a suspicious suicide-a series of disturbing clues point to Calli’s twin sister, Carme, who’s been MIA for days.
- Spin (2020) – In the aftermath of a NASA rocket launch gone terribly wrong, Captain Calli Chase comes face-to-face with her missing twin sister-as well as the startling truth of who they really are. Now, a top-secret program put in motion years ago has spun out of control, and only Calli can redirect its course. Aided by cutting-edge technologies, the NASA investigator and scientist turned Space Force pilot sets out on a frantic search for the missing link between the sabotaged rocket launch and her predetermined destiny…a search that someone else seems very interested in stopping.
Children’s book by Patricia Cornwell
- Life’s Little Fable (1999) – Jarrod has a carefree, innocent existence in a far-off land, but faces temptation when he is offered anything he wants in return for venturing into a forbidden pond, in this Eden-like fable.
Non-fiction by Patricia Cornwell
- Ruth, A Portrait: The Story of Ruth Bell Graham (1983) – Told in flowing and succinct prose, this portrait of Ruth Bell Graham, the world-famous evangelist Billy Graham’s wife gives the reader a first-hand glimpse into some of the great events of the second half of this century. It follows Ruth Bell Graham first as a missionary child from war-ravaged pre-Revolution China and Korea, to peaceful Wheaton, Illinois, and then as a famous evangelist’s wife, to the Deep South, Post-War Europe, and the events in America since the 1950s.
- Food to Die For: Secrets from Kay Scarpetta’s Kitchen (2002) – The millions of fans who read Patricia Cornwell’s bestsellers know that her popular character, Kay Scarpetta, loves to unwind in the kitchen. Book after book finds her tapping into her Italian heritage to create delicious meals for herself and her friends. Brimming with full-color photographs and inspired by dozens of food scenes in Kay’s kitchen and favorite restaurants, Food to Die For is a cookbook tailor-made for Scarpetta fans.
- Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper-Case Closed (2002) – The best-selling novelist turns her attention to the real-life, century-old series of crimes that terrorized London in the 1880s, drawing on meticulous research, state-of-the art forensic science, and insights into the criminal mind to reveal the true identity of the infamous Jack the Ripper.
- Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert (2017) – Incorporating material from Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper-Case Closed, this new edition has been revised and expanded to include eight new chapters, detailed maps and hundreds of images that bring the sinister case to life.
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