Depraved Heart – Patricia Cornwell

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BLURB: Dr. Kay Scarpetta is working a suspicious death scene in Cambridge, Massachusetts when an emergency alert sounds on her phone. A video link lands in her text messages and seems to be from her computer genius niece Lucy. But how can it be? It’s clearly a surveillance film of Lucy taken almost twenty years ago.

As Scarpetta watches she begins to learn frightening secrets about her niece, whom she has loved and raised like a daughter. That film clip and then others sent soon after raise dangerous legal implications that increasingly isolate Scarpetta and leave her confused, worried, and not knowing where to turn. She doesn’t know whom she can tell – not her FBI husband Benton Wesley or her investigative partner Pete Marino. Not even Lucy.

In this new novel, Cornwell launches these unforgettable characters on an intensely psychological odyssey that includes the mysterious death of a Hollywood mogul’s daughter, aircraft wreckage on the bottom of the sea in the Bermuda Triangle, a grisly gift left in the back of a crime scene truck, and videos from the past that threaten to destroy Scarpetta’s entire world and everyone she loves. The diabolical presence behind what unfolds seems obvious – but strangely, not to the FBI. Certainly that’s the message they send when they raid Lucy’s estate and begin building a case that could send her to prison for the rest of her life.

In the latest novel in her bestselling series featuring chief medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta, Cornwell will captivate readers with the shocking twists, high-wire tension, and cutting-edge forensic detail that she is famous for, proving yet again why she’s the world’s #1 bestselling crime writer.

I have to admit it’s been a few years since I’ve read a Patricia Cornwell book – perhaps Blow Fly?  I’ve kept buying them, though, until about four books ago. There’s a book addict for you! When her first book came out in 1990, she was the first book or TV series dealing with forensics, in which an interest had been sparked due to the discovery of DNA. Dr Kay Scarpetta, Pete Marino (I think he’s a Lieutenant at the moment, but couldn’t swear to it!), Special Agent Benton Wesley were instantly fascinating. Then it became obvious that Lucy, Scarpetta’s niece who’ve seen grow up through the books, was going to do something in law enforcement, and I think she’s now been through a fair few “agencies”, as well as making millions of dollars thanks to some mysterious computer system she created. At this point in time, Lucy is living happily on her 50 acre luxury property, with her partner Janet an FBI agent, and Janet’s nephew Desi, who they hope to adopt. Lucy really irritates me. She has everything anyone could want, yet still is incapable of not causing huge problems whenever she can. She also has an ongoing feud with the FBI. Yeah, I know. Smart. Scarpetta, meanwhile, is recovering having been shot three months previously with a spear gun in the leg, whilst diving off Bermuda with Benton.

I found that once it got going, this book had you primed for a really exciting denouement. The middle portion of the book goes like a steam train! Apparently, the person who shot Dr Kay was Carrie Grethen – and if you’re an early fan, you will recall that name!  She was Lucy’s one-time lover, then nemesis, now presumed dead after a helicopter crash many years previously. However, re the spear shooting incident, no-one else saw the shooter. Now, “Carrie” is sending Dr Kay videos of her and Lucy when Lucy was only an intern in the FBI, under Carries’s tutelage. On the very same day as the videos are sent, the FBI are busting Lucy and Janet’s high-security estate, looking, apparently, for illicit firearms. And the raid is led by Special Agent Erin Loria, a one-time beauty queen who was at Quantico at the same time as Janet, and Lucy and Carrie, and came between them. And, weirdly, Benton is involved in this bust, but I’ve given up understanding what’s a conflict of interest, and what’s not, in these books between those him, Lucy and Kay!

Dr Scarpetta and Pete are also at a crime scene – that of the suspected accidental death of the daughter of harridan Hollywod producer, who’s on her way there. Except the crime scene is starting to look less and less accidental.

And how could there possibly be a link between these two deaths?

Unfortunately, we have no great action-packed ending. But we do have the feeling that Carrie could be out there – watching, waiting…Will readers be patient enough to wait too? I may well be persuaded back into the fold – and I’ll dig out the books I bought but never read!

Many thanks to Harper Collins for the preview copy in return for an unbiased review.