Cruel and Unusual is the fourth book in the Kay Scarpetta series. Kay is the Chief Medical Examiner in Virginia and assists the police and FBI with solving murders that make their way through her office. In this case, the killer sets Kay up to take the fall. She needs to work to clear her professional reputation as well as prove her innocence in all of the crimes.
The story begins with the execution of a death row inmate named Ronnie Waddell. Kay completes the autopsy while her assistant Susan has to excuse herself for some strange reason. Susan's behavior becomes increasingly erratic, which she blames on her pregnancy.
When Waddell's fingerprints turn up at a number of crime scenes after his murder Kay is at a complete loss. She tries to find Waddell's fingerprints within her files, but discovers they are nowhere to be found. Someone hacked into her computer system and even her administrative and HR files have been tampered with.
Kay calls in her niece Lucy, who is a 17-year-old college student with a genius level IQ in computer science. She sets out to find out who logged into Kay's computer and what was altered. I obviously have no idea what will happen later in this series, but I have a feeling Lucy will eventually work for the FBI and help Kay solve future cases.
Overall this was an excellent murder mystery. I started this series at least 15 years ago and really enjoyed the first couple of books. I think I lost some of my motivation because there are so many books in the series. As of this post there are 24 novels, so I still have 20 to read if I'm going to catch up.