In North Carolina, the murder of an eleven-year-old girl in a small, usually uneventful town attracts the attention of experts. Gruesome details remind them of the modus operandi of Temple Gault, a  dangerous serial killer on the loose. Kay Scarpetta, who worked on a case whose perpetrator was Gault, has several problems with the present investigation: some laboratory reports, plus the state of the body, are not what she would expect to find…

Soon, another body turns up: Detective Ferguson, in charge of the investigation, is found dead in his apartment. He apparently hanged himself accidentally, while engaged in some perverse sexual play. Are the two deaths connected? And if so, is Temple Gault still part of the picture? Or must Kay look amongst other potential suspects?

Investigation aside, the private lives of the main characters take new turns, as Benton Wesley and Kay Scarpetta are increasingly attracted to each other, and Marino has to deal with anger and jealousy. Lucy, Kay’s niece, has troubles of her own, as her private life (which will not remain so for long), gets mixed with her internship in Quantico with disastrous results, that could cost her her future with the FBI…

The Body farm is rather suspenseful and original, although the actual body farm from the title is only the subject of one chapter of the book. I remember watching one episode from CSI taking place in a body farm, and found the subject quite fascinating and morbid. I think Cornwell could have exploited it further. Also, as I have mentioned in previous reviews, I have a problem with the fact that in each book of the series, Kay’s life is threatened by the killer: how believable is that? I guess not many people would chose medical examiner as a career, if it was as dangerous as she makes it sound! Another comment I have to make is that I wish Cornwell would work more on character development: I would have liked more details on the pathology of the killer, for instance. Last but not least, Kay’s personality is starting to annoy me: I found her analysis of herself as a powerful woman, such as expressed when describing her love life, to be laughable, and also, I wish she would give Marino a break about his eating and smoking habits! This is a detective story, not a brochure for healthy living!

Despite its many flaws, a very enjoyable novel, if you like forensic mysteries …

Rating: 3,5/5