Patricia Cornwell Books

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Patricia Cornwell is an American author known for writing novel in contemporary American crime fiction genre. She started out in 1979 as a reporter for the Charlotte Observer reporting on crime stories.

She is best known for her series of popular novels referred to as the Scarpetta series – featuring Kay Scarpetta a forensic science medical examiner as the heroine. Her first installment of the Scarpetta series was published in 1990 and received critical acclaim and commercial success. She is also the author of three pseudo-police fictions known as the Andy Brazil/Judy Hammer series.

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Order of Kay Scarpetta Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 Postmortem 1990 Description / Buy
2 Body of Evidence 1991 Description / Buy
3 All That Remains 1992 Description / Buy
4 Cruel and Unusual 1993 Description / Buy
5 The Body Farm 1994 Description / Buy
6 From Potter's Field 1995 Description / Buy
7 Cause of Death 1996 Description / Buy
8 Unnatural Exposure 1997 Description / Buy
9 Point of Origin 1998 Description / Buy
10 Black Notice 1999 Description / Buy
11 The Last Precinct 2000 Description / Buy
12 Blow Fly 2003 Description / Buy
13 Trace 2004 Description / Buy
14 Predator 2005 Description / Buy
15 Book of the Dead 2007 Description / Buy
16 Scarpetta 2008 Description / Buy
17 The Scarpetta Factor 2009 Description / Buy
18 Port Mortuary 2010 Description / Buy
19 Red Mist 2011 Description / Buy
20 The Bone Bed 2012 Description / Buy
21 Dust 2013 Description / Buy
22 Flesh and Blood 2014 Description / Buy
23 Depraved Heart 2015 Description / Buy
24 Chaos 2016 Description / Buy
25 Autopsy 2021 Description / Buy
26 Livid 2022 Description / Buy
27 Unnatural Death 2023 Description / Buy
28 Identity Unknown 2024 Description / Buy

Order of Andy Brazil/Judy Hammer Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 Hornet's Nest 1996 Description / Buy
2 Southern Cross 1998 Description / Buy
3 Isle of Dogs 2001 Description / Buy

Order of Captain Chase Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 Quantum 2019 Description / Buy
2 Spin 2020 Description / Buy

Order of Winston Garano Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 At Risk 2006 Description / Buy
2 The Front 2008 Description / Buy

Order of Patricia Cornwell Picture Books

# Read Title Published Details
1 Life's Little Fable 1999 Description / Buy

Order of Patricia Cornwell Non-Fiction Books

# Read Title Published Details
1 Ruth, A Portrait: The Story of Ruth Bell Graham 1983 Description / Buy
2 Scarpetta's Winter Table (Short Story) 1998 Description / Buy
3 Food to Die For: Secrets From Kay Scarpetta's Kitchen 2001 Description / Buy
4 Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed 2002 Description / Buy
5 Chasing the Ripper 2014 Description / Buy
6 Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert 2017 Description / Buy

Patricia Cornwell Anthologies

# Read Title Published Details
1 The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction 2002 Description / Buy
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Patricia Cornwell was born on June 9th 1956 in the US city of Miami, Florida. Her father was a lawyer, but he left the family when Patricia was five years old. After her father left, and with three children to look after, Patricia’s mother relocated the family to Montreat in the state of North Carolina. Her family was taken in by Ruth Bell Graham, who arranged for Patricia and her two brothers to be cared for by another couple, while her mother was placed into care due to severe depression. It was while living in Montreat that Patricia Cornwell’s talent for writing was spotted after Bell Graham read her early pieces of writing, and encouraged her to continue with it. After doing well in her studies, Cornwell went to King College, in the city of Bristol, Tennessee, before moving to Davidson College, in her new home state of North Carolina. Patricia finished her studies in 1979, gaining a BA in English.

After graduation, things started to really get moving for Cornwell, as she moved into journalism at The Charlotte Observer. Then, in 1980, she married David Cornwell, and also received an award for her series of reports on prostitution. Patricia then moved to Richmond, Virginia. And then, with her passion for writing stoked, she wrote the biography of Ruth Bell Graham, the woman who helped her family out in their time of need. The book was initially published in 1983, and won Cornwell the Gold Medallion Book Award from the Evangelic Christian Publishers Association two years later. Unfortunately, the book also put an end to Cornwell’s friendship with Bell Graham for almost a decade due to its content.

Continuing her passion for writing, Cornwell moved into fiction writing, specifically the realm of crime fiction. Her initial book would never take off, but while working for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and also the Richmond Police Department, as well as a chance meeting with Dr Marcella Farinelli Fierro, she would eventually get to writing the first book in the Dr Kay Scarpetta series of books, Portmortem, which was eventually published in 1990, after a string of rejections for three other novels she had written. Cornwell based the story on a real-life case which had occurred in Richmond three years prior to the publication of Postmortem. It won Cornwell a slew of awards, including an Edgar Award, a Macavity Award and an Anthony Award.

Between the years of 1990 and 2000, Cornwell wrote one book in the Dr Kay Scarpetta series a year, with The Last Precinct the 12th book in the series published in 2000. It was also during that time that Cornwell wrote the three books in the Andy Brazil series, Hornet’s Nest, which was published in 1996, Southern Cross, published in 1999, and Isle of Dogs, which was published in 2001. She then picked up the Kay Scarpetta series again in 2003, with the publication of Blow Fly, and then again wrote one book per year in the series, except for 2006, which was the year At Risk was published, the first book in her Win Garano series.

As well as her awards for Postmortem, Patricia Cornwell has won several awards throughout her career, including a Gold Dagger for her book Cruel and Unusual, which was published in 1993, and she became the first American author to win the British Book Awards’ Crime Thriller of the Year for Book of the Dead, which was published in 2007.

Chronological Order of Patricia Cornwell Books:

The chronological order of the Cornwell books currently match up with the publication order.

Patricia Cornwell Awards

Patricia Cornwell has earned several awards for her work over the years. The most notable ones include the ECPA Gold Medallion Book Award for the 1985 published book A Time For Remembering. Her first novel in the Scarpetta series won the Anthony Award, the Edgar Award, the John Creasey Memorial Award, and the Macavity Award. Post Mortem received the Prix du Roman d’Adventures in 1992. These were to be followed by the Gold Dagger or Cruel and Unusual in 1993, the Sherlock Award for Best Detective for her depiction of the medical science forensic expert Kay Scarpetta in 1999. The Book of the Dead got the gong for Crime Thriller of the Year by the British Book Awards (first American ever to get the award) while Red Mist received the RBA International Thriller Prize worth 125,000 Euros in 2011.

Patricia Cornwell Books Made Into Movies/TV

Despite the success of her books, none have yet to be made into movies. However, her Scarpetta series is set to be commissioned into movies as reported in 2015. Fox has hired Melissa Rosenberg a writer and producer on Twilight Saga and House M.D to produce the films. If the movies retain any of the thrill that was brilliantly presented in the books, then we can be sure that we would have something really special on-screen.

Best Patricia Cornwell Books:

Three of the most loved Patricia Cornwell books in the Scarpetta series include:

PostMortem: This is the novel that introduced Patricia Cornwell to the world, and it did so well that the author has never looked back ever since. With a serial killer on the loose in Richmond Virginia, Kay Scarpetta a chief medical officer is tasked with finding the forensic evidence to track down the killer that seems to strike at random. With the killer ultimately targeting Scarpetta, this was one of Cornwell’s best works ever. It rightly won the American Edgar Award, the French Prix du Roman d’Adventure, the American Edgar Award, and the British John Creasy Award. The book set down a marker on how to incorporate forensic science into a pseudo-fiction police novel.

Body of Evidence: This was Cornwell’s second book in the Scarpetta series, and she did not disappoint. Investigating a bizarre set of circumstances that follows Beryl a reclusive writer who is the victim of a stalking, Dr. Kay Scarpetta investigates the complex crime. What makes the crime even more puzzling is that the victim opened her door to the criminal that brutally attacked and nearly killed her. As she becomes entangled in the forensic investigation, she has to deal with ghosts from Beryl’s past. With this book, the price of Cornwell’s book deals rose from the $7500 for Postmortem to $385,000 when she sold the rights to Body of Evidence.

Cruel and Unusual: The fourth Book in the Scarpetta series received critical acclaim as one of the best crime novels of the 90s. With convicted murderer Ronnie Waddell, having been executed by Electric Chair, the plot thickens when his fingerprints are found on a murder scene. She gets a strange feeling about Waddell’s death – she feels a sense of Deja Vu. Finding a grotesque body of a young man on a rubbish skip, she recalls that the person Waddell had killed was propped in a strikingly similar pose. One of the most intriguing thrillers of 1993 the novel went on to win the CWA Gold Dagger for Fiction 1993 Prize.

Patricia Cornwell FAQs

Q: What nationality is Patricia Cornwell?

A: Patricia Cornwell is an American author. She was born in Miami, Florida.

Q: What is the title of Patricia Cornwell’s first book?

A: Patricia Cornwell’s first published book was Ruth, A Portrait: The Story of Ruth Bell Graham, a biography of Ruth Bell Graham, which was initially published in 1983 and reprinted several times under different names. Her first piece of fiction was Postmortem, the first book in the Dr Kay Scarpetta series, which was published in 1990.

When Does The Next Patricia Cornwell book come out?

The next book by Patricia Cornwell is Identity Unknown and will be released on October, 8th 2024. It is the newest book in the Kay Scarpetta Series.

2 thoughts on “Patricia Cornwell”

  1. I too am an enormous fan of Patricia Cornwall. Her writing is so intoxicating and I get so wrapped up in them that I find it hard to put her books down, and I love, love, love all of the main characters in the “Kay Scarpetta “ Series.
    Patricia really knows how to keep a captive audience.

  2. I’m probably biased because I think Patricia Cornwell is a genius, but I am yet to see a bad book by her. Some don’t like the Andy Brazil series, but that’s because it is such a drastic change from the Kay Scarpetta series. The Scarpetta series is riveting, a page turner that keeps you up way lighter than you want to be. While the Andy Brazil books are character studies in the truest sense of the phrase. Heck, I even like the Win Garano books. Although I admit that they don’t hold a candle to Scarpetta.

    It doesn’t matter, I’ll read them all. Cornwell is one of few authors that I’ll buy their new book without reading a single review. She has earned that trust with me.

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