Florida is full of human predators, and they all give Dr Kay Scarpetta the opportunity and the means to do what she does best - persuading the dead to speak to her. And in Boston, Benton Wesley is working on a secret case involving convicted killers. It is a project which gives Scarpetta deep disquiet, as does the behaviour of her niece, Lucy, who is spending too much time in cheap bars looking for casual pick-ups. The Academy is called when a woman's body is found in Boston. She has been tortured, sexually abused, her body tattooed with handprints. The same sort of handprints Lucy had seen on the flesh of her latest pick-up.
Meanwhile, Scarpetta and Marino are investigating the disappearance of a family in Florida, called in by a concerned neighbour, but as they search and find the tell-tale signs of abduction rather than disappearance, they also discover that someone had assumed the identity of the caller, and she is now dead. They've been set up, and it becomes clear that someone is tracking their every move.
Patricia Cornwell's first crime novel, Postmortem, was published in 1990 and became the first novel to win all the major crime awards in a single year. In 2008 Cornwell won the Galaxy British Book Awards' Books Direct Crime Thriller of the Year - the first American ever to win this award. In 2011 she was awarded the Medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. Often interviewed on US national television as a forensic consultant, Cornwell is a founder of the Virginia Institute of Forensic Science and Medicine; a founding member of the National Forensic Academy; a member of the Advisory Board for the Forensic Sciences Training Program at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, NYC and a member of the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital's National Council, where she is an advocate for psychiatric research. Fox have acquired the film rights to the Scarpetta novels, featuring Angelina Jolie as Dr Kay Scarpetta. Cornwell's books are translated into thirty-six languages across more than fifty countries, and she is regarded as one of the major international bestselling authors.