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Publisher's Summary

On a quiet day, away from the hustle of Richmond, in a small cottage on the Virginia coast, Dr. Kay Scarpetta receives a disturbing phone call from the Chesapeake police. Thirty feet deep in the murky waters of Virginia's Elizabeth River, a scuba diver's body is discovered near the Inactive Naval Shipyard.

As the police begin searching for clues, the wallet of investigative reporter Ted Eddings is found. Unnerved by the possible identity of the victim, Scarpetta orders the crime scene roped off and left alone until she arrives. What was he doing there, searching for Civil War relics as the officer suggested, or was there a bigger story? As she rifles through the multitude of clues, a second murder hits much closer to home. This new development puts Scarpetta and her colleagues hot on the trail of a military conspiracy.

Filled with lurid details that Cornwell's legions of fans have come to expect, Cause of Death is a breathtaking mystery further enhanced by C. J. Critt's gripping narration.

Cause of Death is the 7th book in the Kay Scarpetta series.

Don't miss the other titles in Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series.
©1996 Patricia Daniels Cornwell (P)2002 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"Cornwell remains a master of the genre, instilling in readers an appetite that only she can satisfy." (Publishers Weekly)
"The fascination with monstrous evil that's run through Cornwell's recent work blossoms with a vengeance....Full marks, as always, for the gripping forensic detail and beleaguered Scarpetta's legendary toughness." (Kirkus)

What listeners say about Cause of Death

Average Customer Ratings
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Marcum Welby you are Fired!

Kay is the new and inproved Dr. of the dead. She is way more hands on and fun with all the characters she happens to come in contact with. I liked her spirit and her family and her friends. If I sound as if she is real that is because the story and the reader make it seem so real that you buy into the life the Dr. The story is fresh and not the kind that you guess the plot before you get out the first chapter. I want more books from this author!

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Not her best

This story kept my attention through most of the book, but seemed to lack something. When I got to the ending my mind said...."Huh? It's over?" So who killed the victim? Maybe I was asleep during that part. Definitely not her best.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Unrealistic Ending.................again

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

What ending? Oh wait, did I miss the ending? Oh, now I remember, the abrupt unrealistic ending.

Do you think Cause of Death needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Please, NO!!!

Any additional comments?

Wish Patricia Cornwell would not leave several story lines that went on in excruciatingly painful detail just hanging without a resolution. Whats up with that?

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Good Scarpetta, Narrator Needs a Respirator

The early Scarpetta books are great, and this book is no exception. The problem is the narrator. She doesn't get the Kay Scarpetta or Pete Marino characters at all. Not only that, the narrator seems to be struggling for oxygen and sucks in air between sentences. It is so annoying that I couldn't finish the book. I recommend getting the hardcopy of this book or going for Kate Reading's narration of the Cornwell books instead.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

tough listen

I really enjoyed the IDEA of the book, that's about it.
The narrator was terrible. She inserts pauses so long between the dialog and the "I said, she said".....etc, that I wondered if my player shut off. She seemed winded after long sentences. Also, there are characters that are in the begining of the book that seem to have an important role, but just fade away with minimal reference to them. The end of the book was the best thing about this book.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Good Story, Bad Narration

I think this is one of those cases where the narrator ruined the audio book which is a shame since it seemed like a great book. However since an audio book is only the sum of it's parts it doesn't matter if the text is a masterpiece if the narrator is grating and un-listenable.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

ALWAYS A PLEASURE

I know that sounds like an odd title for any Cornwell book. This one is so intriguing on so many levels. Whose cause of death is Scarpetta going to discover next? The story moves from one tragic and ugly scene to another keeping the reader guessing and then getting things all figured out only to come to the next twist in the road. That's why reading PC"s novels is always a pleasure.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Bad choice of narrator!

I am a big fan of the Scarpetta series and am working my way through the books in order. I loved the story here, but the narrator's voice was not well suited to the character and was annoying at times. I really hope that there is a different narrator for future books in this series!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

great book, but...

Patricia Cornwell is a master at complex contemporary plot architecture. I have come to feel as if I know Kate, Moreno, and Benton personally. The interaction of these core characters is superbly portrayed. "Cause of Death" ranks right at the top beside Ms. Cornwell's other works. The character Lucy is an itch in my enjoyment. She does not ring true and seems to have a place awkwardly forced into the book as a matrix for an evangelic homophyllic undercurrent. I am a reader of mystery and suspense for entertainment, not whining about percieved social injustice. I look forward to Ms. Cornwell's next book none-the-less.

Michael M. Duffy MD

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Almost Excellent!

Would you consider the audio edition of Cause of Death to be better than the print version?

The Audio edition is done very well so I can't imagine my reading it would have made it any better. Therefore, yes.

What other book might you compare Cause of Death to and why?

I'm not really sure. I am a great English mystery enthusiast and maybe it's my imagination but there seem to be a lot of women main characters now-a-days. I like them and I like their male counterparts, also. So in particular Cause of Death in of itself may not remind me of another book but the main character as, well, Miss Marple. Call me old fashioned.

Which character – as performed by C.J. Critt – was your favorite?

Well, Dr. Scarpetta of course but I thought Captain Moreno was very funny. C.J. Critt does a marvelous job of reading the characters. She did sound a little like "the other character" than the one she was speaking at times but that didn't really bother me too much. It must be like playing all the parts in a play. It can't be easy.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me laugh out loud at times. But, it is scary because this could happen and you have to wonder.

Any additional comments?

Yes, at first I couldn't understand why P. Cornwell delved so deeply into the when/how radioactive material is harmful. It got a little boring. And I stayed the course as the last few "pages" or chapter revealed at least some of the reason.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lucy Moss
  • 07-16-22

Nasal Narrator

CJ Critt tries her hardest but is beset by a nasty sinus issue

The story is great but Ms Critt doesn't really put much variety into her voices and places emphasis in really odd places. It's also really... really... slow. I listened at 1.10 speed.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Yazzie
  • 02-18-18

rollicking good read.

As usual with Cornwell a real page turning read.
Can't wait for the next one!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Lara
  • 04-30-17

another good book

thses series are fabulous
griping and intresting thrilling and enjoyable a book to curl up and get lost in the story of the main cractors

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-20-18

good slow with errors

slowly read and voice drawls on. issue with continuous play and skips a bit, sad and disappointed with this version of a very good book.

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs. D. J. Cotterell
  • 08-28-19

Disappointing

I started the Scarpetta series back at book
1 which was narrated by Lorelei King, which I really enjoyed. When I reached Cause of Death, the narrator changed to C J Critt. This was the first disappointment as her portrayal of the characters was terrible! My second disappointment was realising that books 5 & 6 were missing and unavailable on Audible so I was missing some history from the characters. The final disappointment was the actual story itself. Completely disjointed and unbelievable. I shall be giving Scarpetta a rest for a while!

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