Unnatural Exposure

For part of my independent study I read the book Unnatural Exposure, by Patricia Cornwell. The book is a murder mystery with a large focus on the forensic aspects of the investigation. The main character in the book is Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a medical examiner form Virginia. She is recently divorced and live in an apartment by herself. She could be described as a workaholic since she spends all of her time thinking and working on her cases. She is always the first person to arrive at the morgue and the last to leave.
As the book begins, Dr. Scarpetta is called to a crime scene at a garbage dump in Virginia. When she gets there she soon realizes that it must be a horrific scene because everyone there was almost in shock. She walked up to the taped off area and started understanding why everyone was in so much shock. The body at the crime scene was nothing but a decomposing torso. The person’s legs, arms, and head had been cut off. They had found the body when a tractor was spreading the trash around. After examining the entire crime scene, Dr. Scarpetta bought the body back to the morgue to look at it closer. She preformed an autopsy and found out that the body was a woman, older, and had a petite frame. The search for the murderer began.
The investigation started with interviews of the people at the dump but that turned up nothing. It almost seemed like this was a dead end case, until DEADDOC e-mailed Dr. Scarpetta. DEADDOC was an internet screen name used by the killer. The person e-mailed Kay with creepy letters that disclosed information that only the killer would know. As the communication went on DEADDOC mailed her actual pictures of the arms and legs lying in pools of blood. The FBI tried very hard to find out were DEADDOC was plugged in to a phone jack but he was never on line long enough to track him down. This became very frustrating for Kay and she tried to move on to other cases.

The next scene Dr. Kay Scarpetta was called to was on a remote island right off the shores of Virginia. When she arrived at the scene she was told that it was a woman and she was found dead in her bead. The local cops also warned the doctor that the dead woman had bumps and welts all over her body. Thinking nothing of this information Kay walked up the stairs into the bedroom and began to investigate the scene. When she pulled back the sheets she was shocked. Dr. Scarpetta was looking at the woman and started feeling extremely uneasy. She had seen these types of bumps and wounds before. They looked like some sort of smallpox disease. As soon as she made the connection to this highly infectious disease Kay ran out of the room. The whole Island had to be quarantined and Dr. Scarpetta was put into solitary confinement until they were sure she was not infected.

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After she got out of confinement she realized that she had seen some similar bumps on the torso she had been examining earlier. The two crimes were now connected to each other. The FBI then realized that someone was trying to start an outbreak of some sort of pox virus. They were putting the virus into facial sprays, and when people used it they became infected with the disease. Dr. Scarpetta had an old friend that used to work in a laboratory that once carried samples of the small pox disease so she wanted to visit with her to try and understand the disease a little better.
When Dr. Scarpetta arrived at her friend’s home she realized that something was very wrong. Her friend seemed very angry toward her and she soon realized that she was face to face with DEADDOC. Her friend went on to explain that she had been very angry and jealous of Dr. Scarpetta’s high status in her career. Her friend, DEADDOC, went on to explain that she had used her old mother to test the disease and when it worked she chopped her up. Then she started to distribute the facial sprays all around and even dropped off a package of them to the morgue. Dr. Scarpetta’s friend was arrested and the story came to an end.

In my opinion this book is not worth the time to read it. It was very good at first and I was very interested by it. Then the book became pretty boring. It felt almost as if the author was trying too hard to make the story over the top. It started to seem as if it was an unrealistic problem and would never actually happen in the real world. I also hated the way she ended the book. Throughout the book she keeps you wondering “who is the killer.” She has many suspects you think it could be, but in the end she introduces a brand new character who is the killer. To me it seemed as if the author didn’t know how to end her book, so she just made something up as quickly as she could. I think the ending was what ruined the entire book for me.