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Collecting Patricia Cornwell, Master of Mystery and Suspense

By Anne Cullison. Mar 2, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Mystery, Suspense & Crime

Patricia Cornwell is a contemporary American suspense author who has made her mark writing medical thrillers primarily featuring medical examiner, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Scarpetta, her niece Lucy, and her friend, investigator Pete Marino, have become such an international phenomenon that Cornwell has earned numerous accolades including the Sherlock Award, the Gold Dagger Award, and the RBA Internation Prize for Crime Writing, among others. What should collectors know if they're hoping to build a Patricia Cornwell collection?

body_of_evidence_signed_cornwell.jpgConsidering her immense literary success, it may be surprising to note that Cornwell got her start while working as a computer analyst at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia. Then again, maybe it is not surprising at all given the medical story lines Cornwell includes in her texts.

Before she found success, Cornwell had several books rejected, and at her first signing for Post Mortem–done over a lunch break from the Morgue—no books were sold. Because of this inauspicious start, coupled with the now tremendous following she has obtained over the years and her impressive book sales, some of her early first editions and signed copies have become quite the boon to book collectors. Signed and first editions of the following titles would make excellent additions to a mystery, crime, and suspense book collection.


Post-Mortem (1990)

"It was raining in Richmond on Friday, June 6. The relentless downpour, which began at dawn, beat the lilies to naked stalks, and blacktop and sidewalks were littered with leaves."

These words kicked off Patricia Cornwell's debut novel, Post-mortem. In this book, readers are introduced to medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta and invited to follow her as she attempts to solve a series of unsolved murder mysteries in Virginia. Learn more >>


Body of Evidence (1991)

Body of Evidence is Patricia Cornwell's second Kay Scarpetta mystery. Scarpetta investigates the slashing death of Beryl Madison, a reclusive author. Scarpetta finds herself tangled up in a life-or-death case with a missing manuscript and troublesome relationships adding to the intrigue. Learn more >>


The Last Precinct (2000)

Thwarting an attack by a suspected serial killer puts Virginia’s Chief Medial Examiner Kay Scarpetta in the spotlight. As her personal and professional lives come under suspicion, she discovers that the so-called Werewolf murders may have extended to New York City and into the darkest corners of her past. A formidable prosecutor is brought into the case, and Scarpetta must struggle to make what she knows to be the truth prevail against mounting and unnerving evidence to the contrary. Learn more >>


The Body Farm (1994)

In Body Farm, Cornwell's fifth Kay Scarpetta novel, we follow the medical examiner on yet another harrowing murder mystery case.

At the request of North Carolina authorities, Dr. Kay Scarpetta and her colleages Benton Wesley and Pete Marino are chasing the elusive serial killer Temple Gault. Learn more >>

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Anne Cullison
Lover of all things books. Spends her time chasing three rambunctious children and enjoys picking up books to read as soon as they fall asleep.


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