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.
Order of Andy Brazil Series
Order of Kay Scarpetta Series
|2||Body of Evidence||1991|
|3||All That Remains||1992|
|4||Cruel & Unusual||1993|
|5||The Body Farm||1994|
|6||From Potter's Field||1995|
|7||Cause of Death||1996|
|9||Point of Origin||1998|
|11||The Last Precinct||2000|
|15||Book of the Dead||2007|
|17||The Scarpetta Factor||2009|
|20||The Bone Bed||2012|
|22||Flesh and Blood||2014|
Order of Patricia Cornwell Non-Fiction Novels
|1||Ruth, A Portrait: The story of Ruth Bell Graham||1983|
|2||Scarpetta's Winter Table (Short Story)||1998|
|3||Food To Die For: Secrets From Kay Scarpetta's Kitchen||2001|
|4||Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper Case Closed||2002|
Order of Patricia Cornwell Standalone Novels
|1||Life's Little Fable (Picture Books)||1999|
Order of Winston Garano Series
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.