Patricia Cornwell Books In Order – Complete List of Novels

Last Updated on October 5, 2023 Reading the Patricia Cornwell books in order really depends on which series you’re looking at – or whether it’s a series you want to read or her standalone novels, in the first place. Especially the Kay Scarpetta books can be considered a lengthy series, so what is the order of New York Times Bestselling author Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta books?

Here is the author book list in proper reading order with the series sorted in order of publication. The chronological order is the same.

Latest Patricia Cornwell Book

Unnatural Death
Unnatural Death, (Kay Scarpetta #276, 2023

Kay Scarpetta Books in Order of Publication

  1. Postmortem, 1990 (#1)
  2. Body of Evidence, 1991 ( #2)
  3. All That Remains, 1992 ( #3)
  4. Cruel and Unusual, 1993 (#4)
  5. The Body Farm, 1994 (#5)
  6. From Potter’s Field, 1995 (#6)
  7. Cause of Death, 1996 (#7)
  8. Unnatural Exposure, 1997 (#8)
  9. Point of Origin, 1998 (#9)
  10. Black Notice, 1999 (#10)
  11. The Last Precinct, 2000 (#11)
  12. Blow Fly, 2003 (#12)
  13. Trace, 2004 (#13)
  14. Predator, 2005 (#14)
  15. Book of the Dead, 2007 (#15)
  16. Scarpetta, 2008 (#16)
  17. The Scarpetta Factor, 2009 (#17)
  18. Port Mortuary, 2010 (#18)
  19. Red Mist, 2011 (#19)
  20. The Bone Bed, 2012 (#20)
  21. Dust, 2013 (#21)
  22. Flesh and Blood, 2014 (#22)
  23. Depraved Heart, 2015 (#23)
  24. Chaos, 2016 (#24)
  25. Autopsy, 2021 (#25)
  26. Livid, 2022 (#26)
  27. Unnatural Death, 2023 (#27)

Andy Brazil Books in Publication Order / Judy Hammer Books in Order of Publication

  1. Hornet’s Nest, 1996 (#1)
  2. Southern Cross, 1998 (#2)
  3. Isle of Dogs, 2001 (#3)

Win Garano Books in Order of Publication

  1. At Risk, 2006 (#1)
  2. The Front, 2008 (#2)

Captain Chase Books in Order of Publication

Captain Calli Chase, a NASA pilot, quantum physicist, and cybercrime investigator

  1. Quantum, 2019  (#1)
  2. Spin, 2021 (#2)

Picture Book

Non-Fiction Books in Order of Publication

Who is Kay Scarpetta?

Virginia’s Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta is of Italian descent both from her father’s and mother’s sides. Over the years, aka over several books, she moved quite a lot to various cities. In the first few novels, she was working in Richmond as the Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Later, after what happened in The Last Precinct, she moved to Florida to become a private forensic consultant. In Trace, she moved back to Virginia. In The Book of the Dead she moved again to Charleston in South Carolina as a freelance forensic examiner/expert.

In Predator, Scarpetta becomes the head of the National Forensic Academy in Hollywood, Florida, which is a private institution founded by her wealthy niece, Lucy. Then she moved to New York, working full time.

Virginia’s Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta is quite a perfectionist and a true workaholic. Being of Italian descent, she does love Italian food, not only to eat it but also to make it. In terms of relationships, she married Tony Benedetti while at law school, but after several years they divorced, following which she had a relationship with Mark James, who eventually died in a London Tube station bombing. Her latest relationship was with Benton Wesley whom she eventually married.

Should We Read The Patricia Cornwell Books In Order?

The question is relevant to her 3 mystery series, but most importantly to her Kay Scarpetta books in order. Having read the books, I’d suggest reading them in publication order – incidentally, in the case of all three series, the right chronological order is also the order in which the books were published.

You will see not only dr. Kay Scarpetta developing her personality through the books, but you will also get to learn her relationship with her niece, Lucy Farinelli, which is worth learning about for the intensity of it. Overall sure, you can read them in any order you choose as the action evolved one story per book, but the characters develop, mature, and progress from novel to novel. Worth not missing out on it.

As a side note, what I’m really waiting for (aside from the latest dr. Kay Scarpetta book, of course) is the new movie to be played by Angelina Jolie. We don’t know when the movie will air yet (it was initially rumored to air in 2015, but that deadline passed a long time ago).

Patricia Cornwell Biography – About the Author

New York Times bestselling author, one of the biggest names in crime fiction, Patricia Cornwell was born in 1956 in Miami and grew up in Montreat, North Carolina.

Patricia Cornwell

During her childhood, Patricia suffered extensive emotional abuse. In an interview where she was asked why she is focusing on psychopaths in her books, the author mentioned it’s because she “grew up with terrible fear.” After her father left the family on a Christmas day when Patricia was only 5 years old, she was also molested by a convicted pedophile.

Thankfully nothing really bad happened, but it was enough to shake her to the core. When her brother appeared on his bicycle, the guy was trying to take Patricia to his car, which would have most likely ended up in her death.

Thus, in 1961, her mother took her and her two brothers and moved to Montreat, since she feared for the well-being of her kids. During school, Patricia was quite the bright A student, she was a good athlete and quite the talented cartoonist.

She attended Davidson College where she earned her English degree in 1979. She got her first job the same year, working for the Charlotte Observer where she did various jobs, starting from listing TV programs to covering the police beat.

In 1981, she began working on the biography of Ruth Bell Graham, wife of the famous evangelist Billy Graham, who took Patricia in when her mother became sick.

After leaving her job as a journalist behind, in 1985 she started working with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia, where she stayed for six years. This is the very place that her fictional character, dr. Kay Scarpetta, would work in as well.

Her first novel, Postmortem, was written during this time, and while initially it was not successfully received, it was eventually published, and it became the first book in her popular crime series. This basically launched her writing career. The author is living in Boston where she is working on her next book.

Postmortem, published in 1990, is, I think, also her most popular book as well. It is really the book that started a new trend with CSI-style novels – forensic anthropology mystery books involved in solving brutal murders, and serial killer cases, all that would take the fiction genre by storm.

Not many people know, but the author of the popular dr. Kay Scarpetta novels has also written a couple of non-fiction books, among them also being two foodie books as well – and they’re great too!

She also created two additional crime series focusing on Andy Brazil, a young journalist turned cop in Virginia, as well as another series with center stage taken by Win Garano in Boston. The author’s latest series, Captain Chase, features the main character as a NASA pilot, quantum physicist, and cybercrime investigator.

Over the years, the author sold over 100 million books all over the world and her novels were translated into close to 40 languages. An interesting side note is that the author appeared as herself on TV in one of the Criminal Minds episodes, “True Genius.”

Just like Dan Brown, she also had legal issues. The author of the Virginia Ghost Murders, Leslie Sachs, accused Patricia of plagiarism for her The Last Precinct novel, saying that the two books have too many similarities to be a mere coincidence.

During the trial, Patricia got awarded $37,780 in damages that she had to pay to defend herself from the other author’s attacks. Sachs also was permanently banned from defaming her in any shape or form in the future.

After the ending of her first marriage, in 2005 Cornwell married Stacy Ann Gruber, a psychiatry professor at Harvard, with whom she lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

In her book Depraved Heart, she made sure to point out just how useless the FBI is at times since they want to get people even when they are completely innocent. This was something like a literary revenge for what she had to endure at the hands of the FBI during that fateful year.

Patricia Cornwell Awards and Nominations

Some of the articles she wrote on prostitution and crime in the downtown Charlotte area brought her a lot of attention, praise, and respect, and this is when she received her first award, the North Carolina Press Association’s Investigative Reporting Award.

She also got several other awards, including the French Prix du Roman d’Aventure, the British John Creasey Award, and the American Edgar Award.

  • Postmortem – winner of the Anthony Awards Best First Novel in 1991
  • Book of the Dead – winner of the BCA Crime Thriller of the Year Best Novel in 2008

What is Patricia Cornwell’s Latest Book?

The author’s latest book is part of the Kay Scarpetta book series, #27, called Unnatural Death.


  1. I started reading your books not long after you started writing them. Had a great number of them when I was working in a volunteer library and I donated them. Now I think I’m going to start collecting them again. You are one heck of a writer.

  2. I’ve read almost all the books I love Scarpetta even tho I class my self as a male chauvinist but I believe if a person can do a job they should be aloud to do it weather there female or male and love reading about female who show they are capable to do the job better then a male
    That’s why I’d like to know what happened to Virginia West
    In the hornets nest series I thought her, Hammer and Andy made a great team but in Isle of dogs isn’t there and there is no mention of what happened to her???

  3. Kay, you are flawed, thus real and relatable thank God! This is why women of all ages ( 69 and master’s plus 60 hours retired teacher, now defense attorney3 years of law school and backgrounds identify with you and believe in you. Your vulnerability comes through in your manuscripts and endears you to the audience….the bond of trust and respect is established leaving us wanting more! I started your Kay Scarpetta books after I retired teaching, after I took my last treatment fighting leukemia, after my father died, after my mother entered dementia, after my family exploded and I was literally on the run from my my my family who were in pursuit of my money….money won in a large lawsuit from an awful accident I was in that permanently disabled me right before my father’s death!

    I was in a program called, Safe Quarters, being protected from my youngest sister and brother and I bought the audio version of Last Precinct.” I had a brand new car and I sat outside the facility in the heat of summer, runnng my car air conditioning, and read your box on my car radio. Guys, most homeless would come by the car to visit me, some getting in and listening for awhile, all wondering what I was doing in a place like that! In the four and one half months I was there I read six of your books on audio and spent a whole lot of money on gas! But I developed a love for you YOU and Kay!

    That was the summer of 1998 and this is 2021 and I have read all of your books and still adore you and your writing! I, too was abused physically by a psychopathic brother… the brother mentioned above that caught up with me. He beat the crap out of me, stole the money I had on me ( about $3o,000 … not all of it) and left me on the side of the road on the L.I.E. in NY. Today, I am permanently disabled suffering balance and hearing loss from that beating on top of my other medical problems. My brother and youngest sister concocted a wild story about me and spread it all over the place after I left. They continue to live their lies…. FYI

    Keep writing, Queen of Writing!

    1. I love your KayScarpetta series. I haven’t read them in order. I don’t think you have to. They are each stand on their own but I was looking at the list of your books in order to see if I missed any. I did and was happy to know there were more books for me to read. I didn’t know you wrote other series I can’t wait to read those too to see if I like them. My friend and I are not totally convinced about your identity of Jack the Ripper but it was gutsy of you & maybe you are right.

  4. I think you’re the most gifted writer. Just bought your new Kay Scarpetta series. Autopsy. Can’t wait to start reading. Please don’t ever stop writing.

  5. The best and only books I read are kay scarpetta novels!!!!! Please don’t ever stop writing them Patricia! You are truly the most gifted writer ever!

  6. I have all the books in the Scarpetta books and shelve them in date order. Over time I have re-read the entire series three times. I guess it should be clear I really enjoy them. Thank you Patricia Cornwell!

  7. Jac wrote:
    August 31, 2016 at
    I listen to these books and I can’t get Stephanie plum out of my head listening to flesh and blood this has to be changed sorry!

    I know what you mean Jac! Ha! The narrator Lorelei King is why. I love her voice for Stephanie Plum but I didn’t like it for Kay Scarpetta

  8. I forgot how great the Scarpetta series are. Had to list them again just so I can see where I left off. On that note, I can re-read these and still thoroughly enjoy them again. I love Scarpetta’s stregnth and smarts yet see he tender side as well. Well written in subject matter and characted(s)…. With the exception of wanting to slap Marino! Bull headed, complex but smart! Don’t get me started on
    Lucy! She is amazing. Always liked her and her character immensely. I hope this series continues!

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