17 Best Patricia Cornwell Books Of All Time

Patricia Cornwell is a prolific author with multiple bestsellers to her name. We’ll guide you through the best Patricia Cornwell Books to add to your list.

Patricia Cornwell‘s books regularly top the world’s top crime books lists, and these books have been translated into 36 languages in more than 120 countries.

As you consider reading Cornwell for the first time, you may be wondering where to start. With over 100 million copies in print, including 29 New York Times bestsellers, you have many to choose from.

Popular Patricia Cornwell Books

Best Patricia Cornwell Books

Here is a list of the best Cornwell books that you can scour Amazon for as you seek to learn more about this author.

1. Postmortem

Postmortem is the first book in the Kay Scarpetta series, a series that follows the work of chief medical examiner Kay Scarpetta. In this story, Scarpetta discovers the work of a serial killer in Richmond, Virginia. She shows herself as a brilliant detective while fighting for her life as the killer wants her to join the body count.

“The dead have never bothered me. It’s the living that I fear.”

Patricia Cornwell
Postmortem (Kay Scarpetta, 1)
  • Cornwell, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages - 03/30/2021 (Publication Date) - Pocket Books (Publisher)

2. All That Remains

All That Remains is the third book featuring Dr. Scarpetta. This book tells the tale of young lovers dying in Richmond, Virginia. As Scarpetta tracks down a serial killer, she discovers that the killer may be just as good at hiding clues as she is at finding them.

“Any place where they got to vote on whether English is the official language don’t belong in the United States.”

Patricia Cornwell
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All That Remains: Scarpetta 3 (Kay Scarpetta)
  • Cornwell, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 480 Pages - 06/30/2009 (Publication Date) - Pocket Books (Publisher)

3. The Body Farm

The fifth book in the Scarpetta series, The Body Farm, takes a new take on the serial killer story arc so familiar for Dr. Scarpetta. Scarpetta discovers a grisly research facility in Tennessee that could be the focal point of a series of crimes in this story. This book also brings in some of Scarpetta’s family, helping build her personal life while showcasing her crime-solving skills.

“I wouldn’t want to assume that all men are like you. If I did, I know I would give them up entirely”

Patricia Cornwell
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The Body Farm
  • Hardcover Book
  • Cornwell, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 09/12/1994 (Publication Date) - Charles Scribner's Sons (Publisher)

4. Unnatural Exposure

In Unnatural Exposure, book 8 of the Scarpetta series, Dr. Scarpetta is exposed to a deadly virus while tracking down a killer. Not only does Scarpetta have to outwit a killer, but she also has to come against the clock as she fights against the virus raging in her body.

“Can’t I just drift now and then?” I didn’t want to be present.”

Patricia Cornwell
Unnatural Exposure: Scarpetta (Book 8)
  • Cornwell, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 01/02/2008 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

5. Flesh and Blood

Book 22 of the Scarpetta series, Flesh, and Blood, starts with Dr. Scarpetta’s birthday when she discovers a strange symbol glued on the wall behind her house. This leads her on a sleuthing adventure as she must find a sniper who leaves behind only pennies and copper as evidence. The challenge remains because the killer shoots from far away because there is no actual crime scene to analyze.

“The truth is none of us always does what’s right or fair.”

Patricia Cornwell
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Flesh and Blood (Scarpetta)
  • Cornwell, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages - 03/09/2021 (Publication Date) - William Morrow (Publisher)

6. Dust

The 21st Kay Scarpetta book has a simple title but a complex storyline. When a body draped in a cloth shows up inside MIT, Scarpetta must get to work to save the crime. Dust takes on designer drugs and drone technology as part of the larger criminal picture.

“She can love one minute and feel nothing the next, not even anger or pain, because after a while those, too, will pass.”

Patricia Cornwell
Dust (Scarpetta)
  • Cornwell, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 544 Pages - 09/02/2014 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

8. Cause of Death

In Cause of Death, the seventh Scarpetta book, Dr. Scarpetta, looks into a ship graveyard to recover human remains. Another body shows up as she investigates the murder, and a military conspiracy begins to unfurl. This book takes the detective underwater, adding a new element to her stories.

“Point is, he wants to hurt you, doc, and he’s already trying hard. One way or another, he’s going to screw you, if he can.”

“He can wait in line with all the other people who want to.”

Patricia Cornwell
Cause of Death (Kay Scarpetta)
  • Cornwell, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 01/02/2007 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

9. The Last Precinct

Book number 11, The Last Precinct, takes the chief medical examiner to the witness stand as she goes under a grand jury investigation or murder. Though she claims she’s been framed, she is no longer sure who is trustworthy. This book puts her head-to-head with Chandonne, a killer she has come to know well, as Scarpetta must fight to prove her innocence.

“We create our own worlds. We destroy our own worlds. It is that simple.”

Patricia Cornwell
The Last Precinct: Scarpetta (Book 11)
  • Cornwell, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 468 Pages - 07/01/2001 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

10. Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed

In Portrait of a Killer, Cornwell takes a break from the world of Scarpetta and instead turns her attention to her research of the infamous Jack the Ripper, a real-life serial killer of 1800s London. The author makes a case for Walter Sickert being the true identity of Jack the Ripper, and she has never-before-seen material in the book that seems to make her point clear. She also uses cutting-edge forensics to try to solve the old case.

“And suddenly the world was filled with wooden faces and flat voices – and, you were alone.”

Patricia Cornwell
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Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper--Case Closed
  • Patricia Cornwell
  • Mystery
  • thriller
  • Hardcover Book
  • Cornwell, Patricia (Author)

11. Depraved Heart

Book number 23 of Scarpetta’s world takes the detective to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she hears the word of a danger potentially hovering near her niece, Lucy. She is unsure if she can trust anyone, including her FBI agent husband Benton Wesley and her investigative partner Pete Marino as she tries to figure out what is going on. 

“Maybe nothing phased her until she was beaten to death on her marble floor, and I envision a blitz attack.”

Patricia Cornwell
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Depraved Heart: A Scarpetta Novel (Kay Scarpetta)
  • Cornwell, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 560 Pages - 06/28/2016 (Publication Date) - William Morrow (Publisher)

12. Body of Evidence

In the second installment of the Scarpetta series, Body of Evidence, Scarpetta must help reclusive author Beryl Madison who is facing a series of threatening phone calls and the looming feeling that someone is coming for her. Sadly, this is true, and the writer is slain in her home. Scarpetta must track down the killer and bring them to justice.

“Has all the trappings of a mystery novel, doesn’t it?”

Patricia Cornwell
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Body of Evidence (Kay Scarpetta)
  • Cornwell, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages - 12/01/2020 (Publication Date) - Pocket Books (Publisher)

13. Quantum

Quantum is the first in a new series involving Captain Calli Chase as the heroin who uses cybertech to solve crimes. Captain Chase finds a crime involving NASA and potentially her twin sister Carme. If she fails on her mission, the entire nation’s security is at stake.

“Your subjectivity, your bias has rendered you blind, deaf and dumb. You see what you want to see instead of what’s there.”

Patricia Cornwell
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Quantum: A Thriller (Captain Chase, 1)
  • Cornwell, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 353 Pages - 04/14/2020 (Publication Date) - Thomas & Mercer (Publisher)

14. Point of Origin

Point of Origin is the ninth Scarpetta novel, and it follows the story of an arsonist who is also a murderer. It brings a familiar nemesis back to the storyline, Carrie Grethen, and requires Scarpetta to put her personal feelings aside to find the killer before her own family is put at risk. This book made it to the top of The New York Times bestseller list.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not,”

Patricia Cornwell
Point of Origin: Scarpetta (Book 9)
  • Cornwell, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 06/24/2008 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

15. Book of the Dead

Book of the Dead, the 15th Scarpetta book, follows the medical examiner to Charleston, South Carolina. When a series of brutal murders occur around the globe, Scarpetta and her team discover a connection between them. It is also Scarpetta that must find the source of the crime spree.

Book of the Dead (Kay Scarpetta, No 15)
  • Book of the Dead
  • Patricia Cornwell
  • Kay Scarpetta
  • Kay Scarpetta is starting over with a unique private forensic pathology practice in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • death of a sixteen-year-old tennis star

16. Black Notice

Black Notice is number 10 in the Scarpetta series, and it starts with a decomposed body in the hold of a cargo ship from Belgium. It takes Scarpetta on a journey to Interpol, France, and much of Europe. This book introduces one of the most savage of the killers she faces.

“I’ve known cops, agents like that,” he said. “They always have justifiable reasons for judicial homicide, but if you look hard at it, you begin to get the drift that they subconsciously set things up to go bad. They thrive on it.”

Patricia Cornwell
Black Notice: Scarpetta (Book 10)
  • #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • Cornwell, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 544 Pages - 12/30/2008 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

17. Hornet’s Nest

Hornet’s Nest looks at three main characters as they follow police procedures to look at a story with three main characters. In this book, Deputy Chief Virginia West, reporter Andy Brazil, and Police Chief Judy Hammer team up to solve a string of murders in Charlotte, North Carolina. It also shows a fascinating insight into police procedures rather than forensics.

“…you know what quotes like that are called in the real world? . . . . They’re called perjury, hearsay, impeaching a witness, slander, disrespect.”

Patricia Cornwell
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Hornet's Nest
  • Hardcover Book
  • Cornwell, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 377 Pages - 01/13/1997 (Publication Date) - G. P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

A Final Word On The Best Patricia Cornwell Books

Cornwell’s books offer intrigue and suspense as any good detective story will. They have likable characters and story arcs that extend throughout the series, which helps readers get engaged in the works. From her expose on Jack the Ripper to her new Andy Brazil series, there are many works to discover from this author.

FAQs About The Best Patricia Cornwell Books

What Is The Next Patricia Cornwell Book?

The 26th book in the Kay Scarpetta series, Livid, is slated for release in October 2022. 

What Other Books Would Patricia Cornwell Fans Enjoy?

According to Goodreads, fans of Patricia Cornwell’s books might also enjoy:

The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver 
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Along Came a Spider by James Patterson 
A is For Alibi by Sue Grafton 
Ashes for Ashes by Tami Hoag 

Further Reading

If you enjoyed this list of the best Patricia Cornwell books, you might enjoy our round-up of the best suspense authors

You might also be interested in our guide on the best horror authors

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