The Body Farm isn’t your typical FBI serial killer chase novel. It follows a murdered child case during October, ending on Halloween. Kay Scarpetta is our lead, she’s a forensic psychologist for the FBI’s BAU. She’s tough as nails, incredibly intelligent, and struggling with raising her niece and falling in love with a married man.
Patricia Cornwell loves Kay, you can tell that in the way she writes her. The woman has her flaws, but you love her because of them. Kay is raising her 21-year-old niece, Lucy, because her sister is too focused on finding her next love. Lucy has also joined the FBI and has a promising career in the computer engineering department. She’s working in top secret on an incredible piece of software that will make it easier to track repeat offenders.
Kay is asked to join a team and investigate the murder of 11-year-old Emily. She was found in the woods with a gun shot to the back of the head, and bite wounds on her thighs. The killing is reminiscent of the serial killer Gault who Kay almost captured once but still runs free.
The team is made up of Kay and Marino who has been involved in VICAP and has a strong relationship with Kay. And thirdly, Wesley who is the Unit Chief. Wesley and Kay have a history. Kay was with his best friend before he perished in the London bombings. Now Wesley and Kay find themselves getting closer and closer, despite Wesley being married.
The other main character is Mrs. Steiner, Emily’s mother, who has an awful run of bad luck. She lost a baby, a husband, and now her daughter.
This is one of those great mysteries for people who love Criminal Minds and Silence of the Lambs. It’s got great female protagonists, lots of geeky FBI trivia, and it doesn’t shy away from the gory details.
While The Body Farm is quite outdated at this point, it was written in 1994, it still holds up in every other way. It’s exciting and complex, and there’s not a tone of characters that distract you. It follows Kay as she tries to solve this murder, and Lucy as she finds herself a victim of possible fraud. Lucy’s job with the FBI is on the line and Kay’s life might be on the line.
My only qualm with this book is its title. Why is it called The Body Farm? They go to a body farm once near the end the book. And that’s it? There’s not even like a OMG NO WAY moment at the body farm that turns the story on its head. They just visit the body farm to see some experiments that were done for the case. And don’t really learn much. Seems like a strange choice.
Regardless, I will absolutely be reading more of Patricia Cornwell’s books and especially ones that involve Kay.
It’s a great story for fans of Criminal Minds, for female led stories, and for those that are getting a little tired of the modern mystery thriller genre.