Dr. Kay Scarpetta was born in Miami, Florida. She is of Italian descent on both sides of her family, with the Scarpettas emigrating from Verona, Italy. She is blonde, and a sharp dresser, although always professional. As a young girl, she watched her father die slowly from leukemia, and the experience remained with her ever since, translating into her everyday work life, where she is surrounded by death. She is a perfectionist, an incredibly hard worker, completely immersed in her work. Scarpetta loves to cook, particularly Italian food. She makes everything from scratch, including pasta and bread, and has a beautiful, custom-built restaurant kitchen in her home. She was married once, to Tony Benedetti; they divorced about 6 years before the beginning of the first novel Postmortem. Since then she had a serious relationship with Mark James, who dies in a bombing on the London tube station (in the novel Cruel and Unusual) and later Benton Wesley, who is apparently killed in Point of Origin but later reappears. In 2007's The Book of the Dead, Scarpetta and Wesley become engaged.
In addition to a large custom-built house that includes a restaurant kitchen, a great room, and a mud room, Scarpetta also drives a new Mercedes, which she replaces often: in one case, after Lucy wrecks it; in another, because a morgue assistant Scarpetta had worked with had been shot dead near it—not in it—while on a mission for Scarpetta. She can't bear to drive it after his death.
In the early novels Scarpetta is the Chief Medical Examiner for the state of Virginia, and works in Richmond. She resigns after the events of The Last Precinct and relocates to Florida to become a private forensic consultant. Scarpetta returns to Virginia in Trace at the request of her replacement, Dr. Joel Marcus. In Predator, Scarpetta becomes the head of the National Forensic Academy in Hollywood, Florida, a private institution founded by her wealthy niece Lucy. In the most recent novel, The Book of the Dead, Scarpetta has relocated as a freelance forensic examiner/expert to Charleston, South Carolina.
Early in her FBI career, Lucy is seduced by Carrie Grethen, who is also brilliant but is totally sociopathic and is in cahoots with Temple Gault, another sociopath who had crossed Kay's path a few years before. Lucy makes her first several million by the time she is 25, building and selling search engines (This was before Google, or it might have been her first billion). She spends her money starting her own training center—the National Forensic Academy, in Hollywood, Florida, which employs her Aunt Kay and Pete Marino—and buying expensive machines, like helicopters, Ferraris, and motorcycles. She also buys a business jet for her private purposes, for which she earns a Private Pilot License. Most of the time, though, she doesn't fly herself but has a cadre of professional pilots doing this, who like Lucy, are physically fit and trained in martial arts.
According to the timeline presented below, her chronological age doesn't correspond with the time between the publication of each book.
|Postmortem||1989||10 years old|
|All That Remains||1992||16|
|Cruel & Unusual||1993||17|
|The Body Farm||1994||21|
|Cause of Death||1996||23|
|The Last Precinct||2000||28|
In the last few books, Lucy has been diagnosed with a brain tumour, although she appears to have responded well to treatment. In 2007's The Book of the Dead she almost kills Pete Marino when she discovers he has attacked and almost raped her Aunt Kay.
In Book of the Dead, Marino's not so secret crush on Scarpetta comes to a head. He reacts badly to news of Scarpetta's engagement to Benton Wesley, and after getting drunk and under the influence of a testosterone drug, he attacks Kay and almost rapes her. His actions lead to a confrontation with Lucy and her almost shooting him, after which Marino disappears. It is unknown if he has killed himself or just runs away as the book ends.