Review: The Body Farm by Patricia Cornwell
Author: Patricia Cornwell
Book: The Body Farm
Release: August, 1994
Series: Kay Scarpetta 5
Source: Personal Library
Purchase: – Book Depository
Little Emily Steiner left a church meeting late one afternoon and strolled toward home along a lakeside path; a week later, her nude body was discovered, bound in blaze-orange duct tape. Called by the North Carolina authorities, forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta recognizes similarities to the gruesome work of a serial killer who has long eluded the FBI But as she tries to make sense of the evidence, she is left with questions that lead her to the Body Farm, a little known research facility in Tennessee where, with the help of some grisly experiments, she might discover the answer.
It is Scarpetta alone who can interpret the forensic hieroglyphics that eventually reveal a solution to the case as staggering as it is horrifying. But she must also endeavor to help her niece, Lucy, who is embroiled in controversy at Quantico. And Scarpetta, too, is vulnerable, as she opens herself to the first physical and emotional bond she has felt in far too long a time. Tenacious and brilliant, tender and gentle, this is Scarpetta even more realized and poignant than we’ve seen her before–in a stunning achievement from a best-selling author at the peak of her powers.
I know that I read this book several years ago, most likely around the time of it’s original release in 1994, but for whatever reason didn’t follow up with the series in recent years. As luck would have it I found myself without a book on a recent trip to visit my parents and found an old copy of this book. As I flipped the book over and skimmed the pages I was instantly captured by the overwhelming feeling of familiarity and nostalgia. Sure, I remembered the general gist of things but had forgotten so much…mostly I had forgotten how much I love Patricia Cornwell and her incredible Kay Scarpetta series.
In The Body Farm readers gain more insight into the characters, what drives them and their weaknesses. Cornwell has created such fabulous a fabulous “cast” that at a glance could they seem somewhat stereotypical, but peel back the layers and you see that there is a real truth behind the fiction and it makes the thrilling storyline more believable. For instance the main character of Kay Scarpetta, in The Body Farm we see a more vulnerable side to the tough and intelligent Medical Examiner in her relationship with colleague Benton Wesley. As they grow closer and their affair continues, Kay struggles with her feelings for him. On one hand she knows she shouldn’t get involved with him and destroy his marriage, but on the other she cannot deny her deep feelings for him. That pairing in particular have significant foundation that is laid in this book.
Another really awesome character is Scarpetta’s niece, Lucy. Through out the pages of this book Lucy is faced with several challenges that will impact her character for the rest of the series in one way or another. Her growth and development is heart wrenching at times. Readers will be able to identify with the confusion the young adult faces as she goes down the road of self discovery and battles with her feelings of insecurity. Lucy proves to be a compelling character that adds so much to the series.
Aside from the characters there is always the added bonus of the forensic details that Cornwell has become famous for writing. Whether it is the various instruments used during an autopsy, the techniques used during investigations or the various scenes in the book (In this case The Body Farm in Tennessee), it is obvious the author does her research and goes above and beyond to make the fantastical stories come to life in her work.
The Body Farm is the fifth book in the series, but don’t let that hold you back from diving into it’s pages. Cornwell’s real gift to readers is that she has written each book in a way that they can be enjoyed as stand alones. But be warned. . . not only are they suspenseful and at times chilling to read, they are absolutely addictive!