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Cause of Death (novel)

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Country  United States
Publisher  G.P. Putnam's Sons
Pages  340
Author  Patricia Cornwell
Followed by  Unnatural Exposure
Genre  Crime Fiction
3.9/5 Goodreads

Language  English
Publication date  1996
Originally published  1996
Preceded by  From Potter's Field
Page count  340
Cause of Death (novel) t3gstaticcomimagesqtbnANd9GcR64dNeEf8ADP9uA
Media type  Print (hardcover, paperback)
Similar  Patricia Cornwell books, Kay Scarpetta Series books, Crime Fiction books

Cause of Death is a crime fiction novel by Patricia Cornwell. It is the seventh book in the Dr. Kay Scarpetta series.


Plot summary

New Year's Eve and the final murder scene of Virginia's bloodiest year takes Scarpetta thirty feet below the Elizabeth River's icy surface. Dr. Scarpetta receives a phone call reporting the death of investigative reporter Ted Eddings, who was found dead in diving gear amongst the Navy's reserve fleet. Was Eddings probing the frigid depths of the inactive shipyard for a story, or simply diving for sunken trinkets—and why did Scarpetta receive the phone call reporting the death before the police were notified? The case leads Scarpetta, her niece Lucy, and police captain Pete Marino into a terrorist plot that threatens thousands of lives.


  • Kay Scarpetta - Chief Medical Examiner
  • Lucy Farinelli - Kay's niece
  • Pete Marino - Police Captain in the Richmond Police Department.
  • Benton Wesley - Kay's love interest, despite being married. FBI profiler. He was the unit chief of the Bureau's Criminal Investigative Analysis Program (CIAP).
  • Dr. Phillip Mant' - Forensic pathologist and Kay's deputy chief for the Tidewater District.
  • Captain Green - Naval Investigative Service. Described by Kay as "typical of weak people with power or rank. He had done his best to scare me off, and when that had accomplished nothing he had decided we would be friends.
  • Victims

  • Ted Eddings - Thirty-two years old, brown hair, blue eyes. An award-winning investigative reporter for the Associated Press. Kay referred to him as "never been shy or passive during professional encounters" and finds him quite confident and charming. His body was found in the Elizabeth River, tethered to a compressor which pumps surface breathing air down to him. He was killed by breathing in cyanide gas through the compressor.
  • Danny Webster - Dr. Mant's morgue assistant. He "was in his early twenties and still lived with his family. "Lithe and graceful, he looked like a young Cherokee with a brilliant grin. He was found on Libby Hill Park, Richmond, Virginia, in a secluded area called Sugar Bottom, half on his back, half on his side in an awkward tangle of arms and legs. A large puddle of blood was beneath his head. He was killed by a single gunshot to the head, using a special type of ammunition called a Black Talon.
  • Other Deaths

  • Joel Hand - Leader of the New Zionists. He fell into the water used to cool the nuclear assemblies in the power station. Unable to swim, he swallowed a huge amount of radioactive water, which led to multiple organ failure.
  • Themes

  • The hunt for a killer
  • References

    Cause of Death (novel) Wikipedia

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