Bestseller Cornwell’s solid 26th Kay Scarpetta novel (after 2021’s Autopsy) opens with Kay, now Virginia’s chief medical examiner, testifying at a controversial murder trial, which has attracted media attention thanks to the angry and vocal friends, family, and supporters of the victim, former beauty queen April Tupelo. No sooner has Kay left the courtroom than she’s called to a crime scene. CIA employee Rachael Stanwyck, the sister of judge Annie Chilton, who’s presiding over the Tupelo case, is lying dead on the kitchen floor of Annie’s secluded country house. Kay is immediately struck by the eerie lack of bird, insect, and animal life surrounding the house, leading her colleague and brother-in-law, Pete Marino, to comment, “Is it just me? Or is something weird going on?” Another brutal death, a failed presidential assassination, a band of homegrown terrorists, and more all take their turn stirring the pot of weirdness. The story line at times gets lost amid extended descriptions of crime scene examinations and autopsy techniques, as well as interactions with difficult colleagues and Kay’s eternally petulant sister. This fact-filled entry isn’t Cornwell’s best, but fans will be satisfied. (Oct.)
"The most personal title in the series yet, a terrific crime-thriller that doubles as a deep dive into a hero that we're still learning about."—Providence Journal
"Goes well beyond our protagonist’s usual forensic science and shows just how versatile she can be."—BookReporter.com
"Once again, Patricia Cornwell offers a glimpse into a nightmarish future that is already here, reminding us that our deepest fears have likely become reality. Fortunately, the guardians of good—of which Kay Scarpetta is a longstanding example—remain steadfast in their opposition, seeking justice and truth to quell the uncertainties that haunt us."—CriminalElement.com
“Dr. Kay Scarpetta, who keeps us coming back to Patricia Cornwell’s sprawling crime novels, is one tough broad.”—New York Times Book Review, Praise for Depraved Heart
“Scarpetta is brilliant, compassionate and humble, excelling in her profession and in diplomacy."—Library Journal, Starred Review for Autopsy
Patricia Cornwell is a “masterful mysterian.”—Kirkus Reviews, Praise for Depraved Heart
“Everyone knows Scarpetta; she has the wit, intelligence, and strength that any forensic sleuth should own. This never-stop action plot is yet another gift to readers from Patricia Cornwell-a literary artist that is never going to stop writing some of the best and most memorable thrillers out there.”—Suspense Magazine, Praise for Flesh and Blood
"Cornwell’s demonic plot shifts and changes almost page by page, so the reader’s spun round not knowing what to believe.”—Providence Journal, Praise for Depraved Heart
"Solid . . . fans will be satisfied."—Publishers Weekly
"As usual, the dead are just more interesting than the living. Something to look forward to."—Kirkus
"A riveting, heart-pounding thriller."—The Real Book Spy
"Cornwell once again seems fully in sync with the character she created more than 30 years ago, and the story is guaranteed to keep the reader guessing."—Booklist
"Another great thriller featuring Kay Scarpetta . . . readers of the series will be happy with this one."—Red Carpet Crash
Forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta testifies in a case, fumbled by the initial pathologist, concerning a drowned beauty queen whose fiancé is charged with her death. Then the judge's sister is murdered. With a 400,000-copy first printing.
Another 15 rounds for Virginia chief medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta and her well-placed enemies past and present.
Why is her old law school roommate, Judge Annie Chilton, allowing Alexandria’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Bose Flagler to beat up Scarpetta on the witness stand? Normally the state’s CME would be on the prosecutor’s side, but this time Scarpetta is determined to testify that her predecessor, the late Dr. Bailey Carter, who had rapid-onset dementia, mistakenly called beauty queen April Tupelo’s drowning murder, leading to the arrest of her live-in Romeo, Gilbert Hooke. Even so, Chilton’s rulings seem consistently heedless of Scarpetta’s formidable reputation and personal feelings, as if the judge were distracted by something. Maybe she’s having previsions about her sister, CIA press secretary Rachael Stanwyck, who’s soon found dead in the kitchen of the judge’s family estate, rendering the introductory case moot to everyone but the protesters who attack Scarpetta, bellowing “JUSTICE FOR APRIL!” and providing the media with more anti-Scarpetta grist. Certainly Cornwell seems to forget about it in her eagerness to linger over the diabolical, state-of-the-art murder weapon by which the judge’s sister met her doom and to evoke the endless infighting among Scarpetta, her nemesis, Virginia health commissioner Dr. Elvin Reddy, and his minions. A second (or is it a third?) murder provides the basis for more of the post-mortem set pieces that make fans of this long-running series salivate, and it’s especially gratifying to see Scarpetta wring important evidence from a dust bunny. But the forensics mean more to Cornwell than the suspects, and the ideal reader of this installment won’t care any more than she does whodunit.
As usual, the dead are just more interesting than the living. Something to look forward to.
This never-stop action plot is yet another gift to readers from Patricia Cornwell-a literary artist that is never going to stop writing some of the best and most memorable thrillers out there.”