Picks and Pans Review: Cause of Death

updated 07/01/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/01/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Patricia Cornwell

The diver's body is discovered in the murky depths of the Elizabeth River, but from the first whiff of bitter almonds—the telltale sign of cyanide—medical examiner Kay Scarpetta knows this is no accident. What the good doctor doesn't know,-at least not until the bangup climax, is the extent of the evil she's up against.

Key clues come from victim Ted Eddings, a reporter and a Scarpetta acquaintance. As the M.E. and Corn-well's usual team (six previous outings) of professionals probe Eddings's background and computer files, they learn he was either investigating a scary neofascist cult—or had joined it.

After feckless forays into romance and The Silence of the Lambs territory, the author and Scarpetta are doing what they do best—using forensic science's ever-expanding wizardry to help the dead tell their tales. (Putnam, $25.95)

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