Cornwell reacquaints readers with forensic pathologist Dr. Kay Scarpetta, former Richmond, Virginia, chief medical examiner. After a near-deadly encounter with imprisoned serial killer Jean-Baptiste Chandonne, Kay rents a house in Florida. Still devastated by the death of her former lover, Kay remains close to her niece Lucy, owner of P.I. firm the Last Precinct.

While it seems Jean-Baptiste is writing to Kay from his death row cell in Texas, a serial killer is on the loose near Baton Rouge. Officer Nic Robillard, a Scarpetta student, goes undercover to patrol the areas where women have disappeared. Meanwhile, Lucy and partner Rudy are in Poland tracking Jean-Baptiste's crooked attorney.

From a gruesome depiction of the flesh-devouring blow fly to a graphic view of the serial killer, Cornwell's latest will give readers chills. While familiarity with the characters is not necessary, it will help. Events in previous novels have impacted many relationships. The climactic finale should leave readers eagerly anticipating Cornwell's next. (Oct., 480 pp., $26.95)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick