“Unnatural Exposure” opens with Kay Scarpetta investigating the possible link between murders in Dublin, Ireland and Richmond, Virginia. She is increasingly suspicious that Ireland’s serial dismemberments from ten years ago are the work of the same individual they’re dealing with at home.

When the butchered corpse of an elderly woman is found in a landfill, law enforcement intuits the killer has struck again. But further examination suggests not; and when Scarpetta uncovers a pattern of pustules on the body’s torso, followed by a visit to a death scene on Tangier Island, where a woman has died of smallpox, it becomes clear she is up against an even deadlier threat — one that has Scarpetta firmly in their sights, as they leave sinister computer messages under the name ‘deaddoc.’

Reading “Unnatural Exposure” in lockdown, in a world re-shaped by the COVID pandemic, was… interesting. Although Scarpetta has a stint in quarantine, it was slightly discomforting to read about her interactions with her regular supporting cast, and innocent bystanders, while knowingly infected. Never mind her reassurances that she’s not contagious…

The plot is nicely constructed, with Marino, Wesley and Lucy flitting in and out of the action as required. There are leftover threads that I presume Cornwell will pick up next time, and that’s what I’m enjoying most about this journey through her catalogue: the layering of continuity, the development of these characters, whose changes might be infinitesimal from book to book, but stretched over the canvas of the entire series, is quite remarkable.

ISBN: 9780751544732
Format: Paperback
Number Of Pages: 384
Published: 1st November 2010
Publisher: Little Brown

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