The Book of the Dead is a morgue log, the ledger in which all cases are entered by hand. For Kay Scarpetta, however, it is about to acquire a new meaning. Stating over with a unique private forensic pathology practice in the historic city of Charlseston, South Carolina, seems like the ideal situation for Scarpetta and her colleagues, Pete Marino and niece, Lucy. But then come the deaths... Asicteen-year -old tennis star, fresh from a tournament win in Charleston, is found nude and mutilated near Piazza Navona in Rome. The body of an abused young boy is dumped in a desolate marsh. A woman is ritualistically murdered in her multimillion-dollar beach home. Meanwhile, in New England, problems with a prominent patient at a Harvard-affiliated psychiatric hospital begin to hint at interconnections among the deaths that are as hard to imagine as they are horrible. Scarpetta has dealt with many brutul and unusual crimes before, but never a string of them as baffling, or as terrifying, as the ones facing her now. Before she is through, that book of the dead will contain many names-and the pen may be poised to write her own.