Patricia D. Cornwell

Biografie şi Bibliografie

Patricia Cornwell (born Patricia Carroll Daniels; June 9, 1956) is a contemporary American crime writer. She is widely known for writing a popular series of novels featuring the heroine Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a medical examiner.

Early life

A descendant of abolitionist and writer Harriet Beecher Stowe, Cornwell was born in Miami, Florida to Marilyn and Sam Daniels. Her father was one of the leading appellate lawyers in the United States and served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. Cornwell later traced her own motivations in life to the emotional abuse she says she suffered from her father, who walked out on the family on Christmas Day 1961.
“     He was on his deathbed. We knew it was the last time we’d see each other; he grabbed my brother's hand and mouthed 'I love you,' but he never touched me. All he did was write on a legal pad 'How's work?' ”

In 1961, Cornwell's family moved to Montreat, North Carolina, where her mother was hospitalized for depression. Cornwell and her brothers, Jim and John, were placed in the foster care system. Cornwell attended King College in Bristol, Tennessee, before transferring to Davidson College, where she graduated with a B.A. in English.


In 1979, Cornwell started working as a reporter for The Charlotte Observer and soon began covering crime. Her biography of family friend Ruth Bell Graham, A Time for Remembering (renamed Ruth, A Portrait: The Story of Ruth Bell Graham in subsequent editions), was published in 1983. In 1984, she took a job at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia. She worked there for six years, first as a technical writer and then as a computer analyst. She also volunteered to work with the Richmond Police Department. Cornwell wrote three novels that she says were rejected before the publication, in 1990, of the first installment of her Scarpetta series, Postmortem.

Scarpetta series

The Scarpetta novels include a great deal of detail on forensic science. The initial resolution to the mystery is found in the forensic investigation of the murder victim's corpse, although Scarpetta does considerably more field investigation and confrontation with suspects than real-life medical examiners. The novels generally climax with action scenes in which Scarpetta and her associates confront, or are confronted by, the killer or killers, usually concluding with the death of the killer. The novels are considered to have influenced the development of popular TV series on forensics, both fictional, such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and documentaries, such as Cold Case Files.

Other significant themes in the Scarpetta novels include health, individual safety and security, food, family, and the emerging sexual self-discovery of Scarpetta's niece. Often, conflicts and secret manipulations by Scarpetta's colleagues and staff are involved in the storyline and make the murder cases more complex. Although scenes from the novels take place in a variety of locations around the U.S. and (less commonly) internationally, they center around the city of Richmond, Virginia.

There are two remarkable style shifts in the Scarpetta novels. Starting from The Last Precinct (2000), the style changes from past tense to present tense. Starting from Blow Fly (2003), the style changes from a first person to a third person, omniscient, narrator. Events are even narrated from the viewpoint of the murderers. Before Blow Fly the events are seen through Scarpetta's eyes only, and other points of view only appear in letters that Scarpetta reads.


Fiction series

"Kay Scarpetta" series:
    In chronological order.

    Postmortem (1990) ISBN 0-684-19141-5
    Body of Evidence (1991) ISBN 0-684-19240-3
    All That Remains (1992) ISBN 0-684-19395-7
    Cruel and Unusual (1993) ISBN 0-684-19530-5
    The Body Farm (1994) ISBN 0-684-19597-6
    From Potter's Field (1995) ISBN 0-684-19598-4
    Cause of Death (1996) ISBN 0-399-14146-4
    Unnatural Exposure (1997) ISBN 0-399-14285-1
    Point of Origin (1998) ISBN 0-399-14394-7
    Black Notice (1999) ISBN 0-399-14508-7
    The Last Precinct (2000) ISBN 0-399-14625-3
    Blow Fly (2003) ISBN 0-399-15089-7
    Trace (2004) ISBN 0-399-15219-9
    Predator (2005) ISBN 0-399-15283-0
    Book of the Dead (2007) ISBN 0-399-15393-4
    Scarpetta (2008) ISBN 0-316-73314-8
    The Scarpetta Factor (2009) ISBN 0-399-15639-9
    Port Mortuary (2010) ISBN 0-399-15721-2
    Red Mist (2011)

Andy Brazil/Judy Hammer series:

    Hornet's Nest (1997) ISBN 0-399-14228-2
    Southern Cross (1999) ISBN 0-399-14465-X
    Isle of Dogs (2001) ISBN 0-399-14739-X

At Risk / Win Garano series:

    At Risk (2006) ISBN 0-399-15362-4 (originally a serialization for The New York Times)
    The Front (2008) ISBN 0-399-15418-3


    Life's Little Fable (1999; children's book) ISBN 0-399-23316-4


    A Time for Remembering (1983; biography of Ruth Bell Graham; later reissued as Ruth: A Portrait) ISBN 0-06-061685-7
    Ruth, A Portrait: The Story of Ruth Bell Graham, Doubleday, 1997. ISBN 978-0385-48900-3
    Scarpetta's Winter Table (1998) ISBN 0941711420
    Food to Die For: Secrets from Kay Scarpetta's Kitchen (2002) ISBN 0-399-14799-3
    Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed (2002) ISBN 0-399-14932-5


    The First Scarpetta Collection. Postmortem and Body of Evidence (1995) ISBN 0-316-91125-9
    A Scarpetta Omnibus: Postmortem, Body of Evidence, All that Remains (2000)
    A Second Scarpetta Omnibus: Cruel and Unusual, The Body Farm, From Potter's Field (2000)
    A Third Scarpetta Omnibus: Cause of Death, Unnatural Exposure & Point of Origin (2002) ISBN 0-316-72472-6
    The Scarpetta Collection Volume 1: Postmortem and Body of Evidence (2003) ISBN 0-7432-5580-1
    The Scarpetta Collection Volume 2: All that Remains and Cruel and Unusual (2003)

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