Cornwell's Scarpetta series continues with 'Depraved Heart'

Depraved Heart, the newest entry in author Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta series, picks up two months after the previous novel Flesh & Blood ended.  To say Cornwell is in her prime with this novel would be an understatement.  This is the best Scarpetta novel thus far. 

We delve deeper into the psyche of Dr. Kay Scarpetta as she tries to untangle the web of mystery surrounding the death of Chanel Gilbert.  Is the death just another day in the life of the doc or is Gilbert's death a clue to a much more diabolical plan?

With her trusted sidekick Peter Marino by her side, Scarpetta begins to see the true victim emerge and it is none other than Lucy.  Lucy is Scarpetta's niece with above average intelligence who finds herself suspect by the F.B.I., but can't quite figure out why. Scarpetta, who has been receiving video links of her niece from 17 years ago doesn't know the reason why Lucy is in trouble, but she knows who is behind it all. Cornwell fans will get a blast from the past when the villain Carrie Grethen comes back to haunt Scarpetta. Grethen knows Scarpetta's Achilles heel is her niece Lucy and Grethen will do everything in her power to take Lucy down.  Even if it means putting Lucy behind bars for a crime she didn't commit. 

We get a chance to see how Lucy and her partner Janet interact with each other on a whole new plane.  Instead of Lucy pushing Janet away as is her standard protocol, Janet is pulled closer to the point where she is a team mate rather than a rag doll that can be tossed aside at Lucy's will. 

Marino is at his best once he is clued in onto what is happening.  His loyalty to Scarpetta and Lucy is loyalty to a fault.  Mistakes are made by both Marino and Scarpetta at the crime scene of Chanel Gilbert which will cause problems later on in the plot. 

Scarpetta's F.B.I. husband Benton Wesley is noticeably absent until the end of the story, but I'm hoping this just means he will play a bigger part in the next edition of the Scarpetta series.  Especially when the mastermind Carrie Grethen needs to pay for the havoc she has wrecked upon the lives around her.

As a side note, you don't need to have read Flesh and Blood to keep up with the story line.  Cornwell does a great job of ensuring all her reader's are up to date on who the characters are and their back story.  Depraved Heart is written well enough to stand on its own and it certainly does just that. 

Cornwell does an amazing job to taking readers deeper into the mind of Scarpetta.  We get a chance to go delve into her mind and find how just how dark Scarpetta's world is. We know how Scarpetta is feeling as we read each word on the page.  Cornwell has an innate ability to push her readers to their breaking points before pulling them back in for some sort of resolution. 

While the plot itself doesn't get resolved as well as some readers may like, the ending certainly left this reader wanting more.  Some people say a good book is one where you finish reading it and you feel like you've lost a friend.  In this case, I feel like I've lost family. 

Cornwell's ability to make her reader's care about every character and their well-being is unmatched. Depraved Heart takes Cornwell to a level that leaves her rivals in the dust.  No one can catch Cornwell and Kay Scarpetta, not even Carrie Grethen...I hope.

















Top graphic via Parade

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