Post Mortem Patricia Cornwell

Essay by leigh7827 April 2004

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The novel Post Mortem was written by Patricia Cornwell. This novel deals with a madical examiner whose job is to help the police find clues to serious crimes. Cornwell's use of setting, characterization, and conflict help to make this an exciting and suspensful story.

The story takes place in the Richmond/Virginia area. The city setting is important to the story because it provides many hiding places for the serial murder the police are seeking. Richmond is a sprawling city, which covers a vast area of land and is on the Atlantic coast. Because of this, the city offers many places for criminal activity which adds to the story's suspense as the police attempt to find and stop the murderer.

The protagonist in the story is Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Dr. Scarpettais a female physician in her early forties. She has never been married and has no children. Sge has chosen her medical career over intimate personal relationships, and her life seems to revolve around finding the medical evidence necessary to solve crimes.

Besides the daily challenges required of a skilled medical examine, Dr. Scarpetta must deal with the prejudices that many women who are intelligent, educated, and motivated face on a daily basis in a world that is run by men. Her cohort is Sergeant Marino, a middle-aged, balding, hardened cop who is shrewd and ruthless in his pursuit of criminals. In Post Mortem, the serial murderer is the antagonist. He has raped and murdered five women.

The conflict of the story is both internal and external. The internal conflict occurs as the protagonist, Dr Scarpetta, tries to find clues on the victims' bodies that will lead to the murderer. Her attempts are thwarted by men around her who are caught up in polictical and personal issues. At...