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Under cover of night in Richmond, Virginia, a human monster strikes, leaving a gruesome trail of stranglings that has paralyzed the city. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta suspects the worst: a deliberate campaign by a brilliant serial killer whose signature offers precious few clues. With an unerring eye, she calls on the latest advances in forensic research to unmask the madman. But this investigation will test Kay like no other, because it’s being sabotaged from within and someone wants her dead.
When convicted killer RonnieJoe Waddell is executed in Virginia’s electric chair, he becomes what shouldbe a routine postmortem case for Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta.But after Waddell’s execution, the murders continue, as everyone connectedto him begins to die—including a member of Scarpetta’s staff.
Then, when crucial records disappear from her files, Scarpetta comes underfire for incompetence. Caught in a web of political intrigue, betrayed bythose she trusted, Scarpetta must fight to free herself from murderous insinuations—and threats to her own life.
To save her career, Scarpetta soon finds herself retracing Waddell’s bloodyfootprints, following a trail that might lead to long-hidden secrets deepwithin the state government. Either the truth will set her free—or unleashupon her a punishment both cruel and unusual.