Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell (a book review)

This is another addition to the long-running Kay Scarpetta book series about a forensic medical examiner. The newest release starts out with a reminder of one of the memorable characters in the series–a diabolical character who makes you think she is always a step ahead of our heroine, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a woman of many talents and skills. Although not a practicing lawyer, Scarpetta has a law degree in addition to a medical degree. She’s a certified scuba diver, as well as a gourmet chef. She has her own forensic business now and lives in a posh neighborhood in Cambridge, Mass. with her handsome, highly intelligent FBI agent husband, Benton.

Most of Scarpetta’s books are in the first person perspective so there’s a certain amount of introspection from our heroine in the stories. However, this new book seems to have Scarpetta even more reflective of her life and feelings because of a near fatal event that happened to her in the previous book, Flesh and Blood.

Back to the diabolical character front and center in this book. Depraved Heart is a continuation of the ongoing question of the whereabouts of former FBI agent, Carrie Grethen, who has outstanding looks, brains, and general wherewithal. The only thing missing is her humanity, so she makes for a truly evil protagonist. The crime to solve in this story is to unravel who murdered a young woman with a questionable past who is now introduced as being linked to a key scene in the last book.

The author, Patricia Cornwell, does her usual way of weaving in twists and tying things up toward the end, which leaves open some problems yet to be solved.

Because I started with the first book in the series, I feel committed to seeing this through to the end, if it ever ends. As with long-running series, there are times when certain books are better than others. We see Dr. Scarpetta start off working for the government in the earlier books, but we see her progressing in her career. We also see how her relationship with Benton has grown, in addition to the development of her niece, Lucy, another bigger-than-life character; and how Lucy changes in some ways but at times appears to be stuck based on certain behavior patterns she continues to display.

What I’d really like to see is more development of Cornwell’s two other book series, with one featuring Andy Brazil, a state trooper, and the other about a Mass. state investigator named Win Garano.

Listed below are the books I’ve read by Patricia Cornwell in the order they were published from each series. I shall also continue to update the list below, as I finish reading her new publications.

Scarpetta series
Postmortem
Body of Evidence
All That Remains
Cruel and Unusual
The Body Farm
From Potter’s Field
Cause of Death
Unnatural Exposure
Point of Origin
Black Notice
The Last Precinct
Blow Fly
Trace
Predator
Book of the Dead
Scarpetta
The Scarpetta Factor
Port Mortuary
Red Mist
The Bone Bed
Dust
Flesh and Blood
Depraved Heart

Andy Brazil series
Hornet’s Nest
Southern Cross
Isle of Dogs

Win Garano series
At Risk
The Front

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