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Q: Looking for a fiction book from several years ago ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Looking for a fiction book from several years ago
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: rab5649-ga
List Price: $4.50
Posted: 14 Jun 2002 07:33 PDT
Expires: 14 Jul 2002 07:33 PDT
Question ID: 25764
Somewhere between 5 and 8 years ago I saw a segment on Good Morning
America about great summer books.  One book they discussed was about a
serial killer, something about a database of suspects or known serial
killers and a cop or person who gained access to this database and was
killing the serial killers....or something like that.  Don't know the
title or author.  HELP!
Subject: Re: Looking for a fiction book from several years ago
Answered By: mother-ga on 14 Jun 2002 08:59 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello and what a great question! 

When I glanced at your description, I said to myself, wow, that sure
does sound like a Kay Scarpetta novel. I believe the book you are
remembering is "From Potter's Field," by Patricia Cornwell (1995).
This is Cornwell's 6th book in the "Kay Scarpetta" series. I read this
book when it came out, so my memories of it are a little dimmed, but I
do remember the basic plot.

In this series of novels, Kay Scarpetta is a medical examiner and
forensics expert whose life is confounded by endless murder cases that
sometimes hit close to home. Her niece, Lucy, is a brilliant
programmer who has been hired by the FBI.

In "Potter's Field," Lucy has created a new database for tracking
similarities in murder cases, in hopes that patterns will emerge that
can be traced to specific suspects. This database's security is
compromised from the outside, and murder and mayhem ensues.

Editorial review by Ingram
"Forensic pathologist Dr. Kay Scarpetta matches wits with a sadistic
killer who infiltrates the FBI's top-secret artificial intelligence
system and begins to close in on Scarpetta herself."

I don't want to spoil the plot any further, but I am confident that
this is the book you are after. Your year range (5-8 years ago)
matches the publication date (1995), 7 years ago. At the time, her
novels were hugely popular and I've no doubt that it would have been
featured on a morning news program.

Additional resources:

"Kay Scarpetta novels" (

"Patricia Cornwell" (Penguin Putnam Inc)

Search strategy:

cornwell database "serial killer"
"kay scarpetta" "potter's field"

Please let me know if this is what you were looking for.

rab5649-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
All three answers were great and could potentially be the right book. 
I'll have to give them all a look.  Hmmmm...three books with the same
general plot all written around the same time.  So much for

Subject: Re: Looking for a fiction book from several years ago
From: simchacohn-ga on 14 Jun 2002 09:04 PDT
I'm not so sure that this answers the question adequately, to be

The premise was that the person referencing the database was killing
the killers, not the serial killers accessing the data.

This may be a reference to the answer, as well as a sequel - and it
came out at approximately the correct time.


Watch Me, by A. J. Holt
Paperback, St, Martin's, $6.99, 370 pages

FBI agent Jay Fletcher develops a computer program that combs
databases matching criminal profiles against bank records and airline
reservations. She is banished to the boonies when her unauthorized
trolling violates a serial killer's civil rights and he is set free.
She continues to track down killers and administer vigilante justice.
Meanwhile, a retired agent uses traditional investigative methods to
track down "The Iceman," a killer he has been dogging for 30 years.
The Iceman hacks into databases to monitor the agent's progress runs
an Internet-based fantasy game called "Special K" that attracts other
serial killers. When paths converge, all hell breaks loose.
Watch Me raises urgent issues about privacy. How far should the
government be allowed to go in gathering data on private individuals
to prevent and solve crime? Who is the greater threat: government or
criminals? This is a very scary book with graphic depictions of rape,
murder and mutilation. The web of computer information is terrifying,
and the technical details are right on target. Other reviewers have
likened it to Silence of the Lambs with a high tech twist. Highly

Catch Me, by AJ Holt 
Hardback, St. Martin's Press, 1999, $23.95, 327 pages

When we left FBI agent and computer guru Jay Fletcher at the end of
Watch Me, she was disgraced and fired for turning vigilante and
blowing away most of the members of Special K, a computer bulletin
board for serial killers. Only one survived - Billy Bones - and he has
escaped from his mental institution, embarked on another killing spree
and is taunting Fletcher to "catch me." Teamed with a skeptical
federal marshal, she embarks on a cross-country scavenger hunt,
following his trail of grisly clues.
Although computers play a less prominent role in this novel than they
did in Watch Me, they are a running thread throughout the plot. Billy
Bones is great at cracking through network security and Jay keeps
turning to the Internet to research the clever and convoluted clues.
Maybe I'm being picky, but some of the details lacked authenticity.
She dropped down to DOS to check Billy's cookie file, when everyone
knows that they are contained in a file called cookies.txt, and she
used Yahoo to search for a long line of poetry when HotBot or
Altavista would have been more efficient. Some expert. Good book,
though. If you liked Watch Me, as I did, this is a necessary
follow-up. Killer of an ending, especially for Sherlock Holmes fans
and students of chaos theory.


fiction "serial killer" database suspects police investigator access
"kill the serial killers"

hope that helps
Subject: "A Philosophical Investigation" by Philip Kerr
From: billathere-ga on 14 Jun 2002 09:18 PDT
Take a look "A Philosophical Investigation" by Philip Kerr.

In a realistic sounding future, the ability exists to check DNA for
potential mass murderers. Then one of the tagged guys breaks into the
database, erases his identity, and begins killing the other maybe
killers. And for reasons I don't recall, women are determined to be
the best investigators of mass murderers. Not a bad book and the only
one by Kerr I'd recommend.

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