I have read the 136th book for the book challenge. It was Post-Mortem (Kay Scarpetta Mysteries) by Patricia Cornwall.
Someone is raping and murdering women in their homes in Richmond and Kay Scarpetta means to discover who he is. The fourth woman discovered brutalized is a ER doctor, Lori Peterson. She is found bound and strangled in her bedroom, with all her fingers broken. She had been raped, as were the other three.
But her husband noticed a strange smell when he entered the room, like the smell of maple syrup. Also this murderer leaves a residue that shows up under laser light as tiny pin pricks of light. Kay and her team are trying to determine what this substance is.
Marino thinks Lori Peterson’s husband may be the murderer and goes after him. He wonders if greasepaint is the substance, but Kay checks and it’s not. Kay doesn’t think the husband is the murderer.
Kay’s niece Lucy is staying with her for two weeks. Lucy spends her days playing on Kay’s computer when Kay is not entertaining her. Kay is afraid that Lucy may have broken into the OCME computer when a breach is discovered. Someone has hacked into the computer and changed data and tried to access data. Kay is freaked out about this. She puts steps in place to catch the hacker. Then vials turn up with an extra label from Lori Peterson’s kit that she doesn’t remember using. She thinks someone is trying to mess up the chain of evidence.
She goes out with Bill Bolz. He comes over to her house but comes on a little too strong and Kay is scared off by his strength. They agree not to see each other anymore.
Then Abby Turnbull’s sister becomes the fifth victim. The rape and torture are more brutal. Abby is convinced that the murderer was after her. Abby is a reporter. Kay starts investigating more. She finds that all the victims made calls to 911 just prior to their deaths. She also finds that the substance is borax found in a soap that is used in the washroom of municipal buildings. The maple syrup smell is from a disorder that causes the sweat to smell like maple syrup. The person would probably have to wash frequently. They publish a newspaper article stating that the person has a disorder but not stating what exactly it is.
Marino is looking into the 911 dispatchers. Without her knowledge, Marino is also watching Kay’s house because he feels she is a target. One Friday night, Kay is in bed with her gun under her pillow when she smells the maple syrup smell. The murderer puts his hand over her mouth and tells her not to scream. he has a knife. He is masked. He is wearing a blue running suit. He goes to the window to cut the blind cords. Kay goes for her gun but there are no bullets in the gun. Suddenly Marino is in the doorway and shoots the murderer dead. Marino had been watching the house and knew she was in danger.
Kay finds it was Amburgery who was breaking into her computer and who left the vials with the Lori Peterson label. Her own boss was trying to bring her down. She confronts him and he admits nothing but leaves her alone. She puts safeguards in place to keep her data secure.
Kay flys to Florida to take Lucy home. They spend time on the beach, just the two of them. No computers, no murderers.
This was a thrilling novel. Kay Scarpetta is the medical examiner but she is really a detective the way she gets involved with the cases, trying to solve them. She and Marino make a good team as they go through the clues to solve the case. I loved this book.