The Body Farm by Patricia Cornwell

‘The Body Farm’ is the 5th novel by Patricia Cornwell featuring Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta.

In addition to being Virginia’s Chief Medical Examiner and being in charge of a busy morgue, Dr Kay Scarpetta is also consulting with the FBI on special cases. This brings her ever closer to FBI profiler Benton Wesley. Kay’s niece Lucy is now working for the FBI in their top secret Engineering Research Facility. Kay’s friend and colleague Peter Marino is living in a way that Kay is sure will lead to a heart attack.

The latest case to bring the team together is the murder of 11 year old Emily Stein in the small town of Black Mountain. There are aspects of Emily’s murder that bear a strong resemblance to that of Eddie Heath a few years earlier. His murderer, Temple Gault, has not been apprehended. When the FBI Agent in charge of Emily’s case dies suddenly and Black Mountain’s lead policeman suffers a heart attack, Kay, Wesley and Marino are forced to spend more time on the investigation. And as Kay and Wesley begin an affair, Marino demonstrates his jealousy by some pretty nasty behaviour. Pretty soon Marino is having an affair with Emily’s mother Denisa and talking about staying in Black Mountain.

Lucy is also causing problems. Her close friendship with the wrong person leads to her being accused of a crime and dismissed from the FBI. She is also drinking too much and nearly gets herself killed.

In the end, the solution to Emily’s murder is not what any of the team expected!


This was an excellent thriller with an incredibly devious perpetrator. But once again, there was as much going on in the relationships between the characters as there was in the crime. For this reason, I would recommend reading the novels in order and getting to know the characters and their lives.

The next novel in the series is – ‘From Potter’s Field’.


Book Published 1994


See a full list of books by Patricia Cornwell


Filed under Book Reviews, Cornwell, Patricia, Crime, Detective, Forensic, Series Fiction

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