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Patricia Cornwell Books In Order

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Last Updated on December 25, 2022 by Mary Elle

If you like crime fiction, you can’t go really can’t go wrong with the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. But there are many books in the series! Here’s a complete list of all the Patricia Cornwell books in order including the entire Kay Scarpetta series, so you won’t miss any.

In case you’re not already familiar with Patricia Cornwell, with the exception of a few non-fiction books, she writes primarily crime fiction mysteries.

The series she is the most well-known for is the Kay Scarpetta series, but she has written a few other shorter series as well.

stack of clipart books on red background with patricia cornwall books in order in white box

Who Is Patricia Cornwell?

Patricia Cornwell is an American author and #1 bestselling crime fiction writer who was born in Miami, grew up in North Carolina, and now lives in Boston. Thanks to her wildly successful Kay Scarpetta series, she has sold over 100 million books in 36 languages across 120 countries.

Her first novel, Postmortem (published in 1990), was written while she was working as a computer analyst at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia. Postmortem was technically the first forensic thriller of its kind and sort of paved the way for forensic stories across a variety of entertainment outlets including books, television, and film.

As is the case with many authors, she did not experience overnight success. My favorite story about Patricia Cornwell is that she held her first book signing (for her book Postmortem) while she was on break from her job at the morgue. What else would you expect from a crime writer, right? As the story goes, she didn’t sell a single copy of Postmortem at that book signing, and the only person that even asked a question was an elderly lady looking for the cookbook aisle.

That first book, Postmortem, would go on to win a whole slew of awards, so in the end, I think Patricia did just fine with that one.

Patricia Cornwell earned a degree in English, then became a journalist in Charlotte, North Caroline where she eventually started covering the police beat. It was from there that she made a career move right into the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia.

It’s possible you’ve seen Patricia on CNN, where she occasionally appears as a forensic consultant.

Patricia Cornwell Books In Order

Patricia Cornwell has written a few different series of books and I’ve separated them out here by series. The one she is definitely most well-known for is the Kay Scarpetta series.

Patricia Cornwell Books In Order – Kay Scarpetta Series

This is the book series that Patricia Cornwell is the most well-known for.

The Kay Scarpetta series features Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta. Patricia Cornwell obviously uses her own background as the backdrop for at least some of her books, because in the first few books in the series, Kay Scarpetta is working in Richmond, Virginia as the Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia. And, we know that Patricia Cornwell herself worked in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, albeit as a computer analyst.

Patricia Cornwell Books In Order – Andy Brazil Series

These books feature Judy Hammer, the newly installed superintendent of the Virginia State Police, and Andy Brazil, a state trooper and Judy Hammer’s right hand man.

Patricia Cornwell Books In Order – Win Garano Series

These books feature Massachusetts state investigator Win Garano.

Patricia Cornwell Books In Order – Captain Chase Series

This is a sci-fi series featuring federal special agent Captain Calli Chase.

Patricia Cornwell Books In Order – Non-Fiction Books

I find the list of Patricia Cornwell’s non-fiction books interesting, to say the least.

The last three on this list, those that are about Jack the Ripper, are completely understandable considering that Patricia Cornwell writes crime fiction. So, despite the fact that these books are non-fiction, they certainly fit in the same genre as what Patricia Cornwell is known for – crime fiction.

The food books are not that surprising. I guess just something fun she decided to write.

The one non-fiction book that surprised me the most, however, is The Story of Ruth Bell Graham. When I first saw that book on Patricia Cornwell’s list of book credits, I was wondering what on earth would lead a crime writer to write a story like this. It just seemed a bit odd, and not at all what you might expect from this author.

However, once I did some research, I discovered what might be the little-known fact that Ruth Bell Graham was the wife of the famous evangelist Billy Graham, who took Patricia Cornwell in when her mother became sick. So, this is why she wrote about Ruth.

In What Order Should You Read Patricia Cornwell Books?

Patricia Cornwell’s books should be read in the order of publication, as shown above. The characters in these books develop over time, along with the story, and you’ll get the most enjoyment out of each series if you read them in the order shown.

Is the Scarpetta Series Over?

It did seem as if the Kay Scarpetta series was over after Chaos which was published in 2016. But 5 years later, in 2021, Kay Scarpetta returned in 2021 in Autopsy and continued in 2022 with Livid.

Only time (and Patricia Cornwell) will tell if or where Kay Scarpetta goes next.

What Should I Read After Patricia Cornwell?

If you already love Patricia Cornwell’s books and are looking for another author that writes similar books, you might consider trying one of these authors:

Patricia Cornwell Books In Order – Conclusion

Patricia Cornwall writes cutting-edge crime fiction and police procedural types of series, and if you like that genre, don’t miss any of her books.

Her very first novel, Postmortem, was really the forerunner to not only crime fiction writing but also to CSI-type crime fiction television series.


Just in case you prefer to “listen” to this list of Patricia Cornwell books in order rather than read them, here’s a nice opportunity to try Audible free for 30 Days.

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