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Depraved Heart (Kay Scarpetta Series #23)

Depraved Heart (Kay Scarpetta Series #23)

3.0 92
by Patricia Cornwell

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Dr. Kay Scarpetta is working a suspicious death scene in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when she receives a text message with a video link that seems to be from her niece Lucy. But how can it be? It’s clearly a surveillance film of Lucy taken years ago.

As Scarpetta watches she comes to grips with frightening secrets. That first clip and others sent soon after


Dr. Kay Scarpetta is working a suspicious death scene in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when she receives a text message with a video link that seems to be from her niece Lucy. But how can it be? It’s clearly a surveillance film of Lucy taken years ago.

As Scarpetta watches she comes to grips with frightening secrets. That first clip and others sent soon after raise dangerous implications that isolate Scarpetta, leaving her confused and not knowing whom she can tell—not her FBI agent husband, Benton Wesley, or her investigative partner, Pete Marino. Not even Lucy.

Cornwell launches these characters on a psychological odyssey that includes the bizarre death of a Hollywood mogul’s daughter, wreckage on the bottom of the sea in the Bermuda Triangle, a grisly gift left in a crime scene truck, and videos from the past that threaten to destroy Scarpetta’s entire world. The diabolical presence and singularly “depraved heart” behind what unfolds seems obvious—but not to the FBI, who begin building a case against Lucy that could send her to prison for the rest of her life. . . .

Editorial Reviews

“Dark and cleverly plotted.”
New York Times Book Review
“Dr. Kay Scarpetta, who keeps us coming back to Patricia Cornwell’s sprawling crime novels, is one tough broad. . . . Once Scarpetta decides to ferret out Lucy’s secrets, the novel becomes more of a psychological thriller…”
Providence Journal
“Heart-stopping, paranoia-fueled, propulsively readable, viscerally suspenseful, disconcertingly shifty… Cornwell’s demonic plot shifts and changes almost page by page, so the reader’s spun round not knowing what to believe… This intense rush of a mystery will keep you guessing up until the very scary conclusion.”
Publishers Weekly
In bestseller Cornwell's stirring 23rd novel starring Dr. Kay Scarpetta (after 2014's Flesh and Bone), what at first appears to be an accident quickly turns to murder once Scarpetta determines that Chanel Gilbert, the grown daughter of Hollywood producer Amanda Gilbert, didn't simply fall while trying to change a light bulb in the historic house Amanda owned near the Harvard campus in Cambridge, Mass. Meanwhile, Scarpetta receives a mysterious text, seemingly from the cell of her technical entrepreneur niece, Lucy Farinelli, with a video link showing Lucy's FBI dorm room almost 20 years earlier. It's a surveillance camera clearly planted by Carrie Grethen, Scarpetta's archenemy, who was Lucy's one-time mentor and lover, and now sociopath Carrie is sending potentially incriminating video to Scarpetta at the same time Lucy's nearby house is being raided by the FBI. Scarpetta's current case, Lucy's troubles with the Feds, and Carrie's spooky blast from the past are all on an inevitable collision course, and Cornwell shows surprising restraint in reining in her plot and keeping it tightly focused on her well-developed core characters. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
Another gritty, world-weary tale of mayhem by masterful mysterian Cornwell (Flesh and Blood, 2014, etc.).Dr. Kay Scarpetta, fussy and exacting, doesn't mind gore. "A select few of us," she says, "come into this world not bothered by gruesomeness. In fact we're drawn to it, fascinated, intrigued, and it's a good thing." Say what you will about her, Dr. Kay, forensic pathologist extraordinaire, doesn't lead a dull life, even though much of her time is spent holding one-sided conversations with dead people. In the latest imposition on her good nature, a video lands on her phone while she's combing through an icky scene, a young woman whose "once slender body [is] in the early stages of putrefaction, bloated with areas of her skin slipping." That's grody to the max, to be sure, but, there being no accidents and no coincidences in this strange world of ours, it stands to reason that somehow Dr. Kay's latest examinee is bound up somehow with her niece, the subject of said video, a techie with a thick wallet and mad skills of a sort that Lisbeth Salander might envy. That road, with detours to the Bermuda Triangle ("you draw a line from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico to Bermuda"), is a bumpy one, and it passes right by the door of a mysterious, permanently peeved psycho. Or maybe not. Got all that? Well, let Dr. Kay summarize: "If Carrie knew Chanel and Chanel knew Lucy then that links the three of them. Chanel has been murdered. Carrie's existence can't be proven. That leaves Lucy hung out to dry by the FBI." Stir phony IRS agents and wisecracking Boston cops and a few red herrings into the mix, and you've got the makings of a real puzzler. Suffice it to say that there's enough familial psychodrama here to fuel a couple of dozen episodes of Dr. Phil and that the NRA won't like its product-placement moment.A trademark Cornwell mystery: terse and tangled, messy and body fluid-y, and altogether satisfying.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Kay Scarpetta Series , #23
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Cornwell is recognized as one of the world’s top bestselling crime authors with novels translated into thirty-six languages in more than 120 countries. Her novels have won numerous prestigious awards including the Edgar, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger, the Anthony, the Macavity and the Prix du Roman d’Aventures. Beyond the Scarpetta series, Patricia has written a definitive book about Jack the Ripper, a biography and two more fiction series among others. Cornwell, a licensed helicopter pilot and scuba diver, actively researches the cutting-edge forensic technologies that inform her work. She was born in Miami, grew up in Montreat, North Carolina, and now lives and works in Boston.

Brief Biography

Boston, MA and New York, NY
Date of Birth:
June 9, 1956
Place of Birth:
Miami, Florida
B.A. in English, Davidson College, 1979; King College

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Depraved Heart (Kay Scarpetta Series #23) 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 92 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is written well but the story isn't compelling. Cornwell was SO GOOD when she first started writing, that I keep buying her books hoping for that original magic... but it's not there. She has strayed so far from the science and waded too far into the dark side of the human condition. She was better at the science.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been a huge fan of Cornwell since the beginning and can't believe I'm writing a bad review. I thought the two books prior to this were more reminiscent of her early work, but this one sure wasn't. I miss the forensics and detective work. I'm tired of Lucy, her deranged exlovers, her omnipotent cyber abilities, helicopters and guns. The plot was incredibly convoluted and unrealistic. There was no ending or real conclusion. I believe the positive reviews are examples of data fiction. I wish Cornwell would return to stories centered around Kay's forensic sleuthing. Sadly this may be my last purchase/read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of Patricia Cornwell but this book was a big disappointment The author has all these plot lines happening and all this tension but wraps up the book in the last few pages without a satisfactory explanation as to what was going on and why
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like this book. I have read others of her books and always considered her one of my favorite authors who took you into the story and characters lives. The last few have been more like a technical journey. Very disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While reading this book, I felt as distracted as Kay Scarpetta was at the death scene while viewing the video that was sent to her. I never overcame that feeling of distraction as I read the entire book. I have always loved the Scarpetta series, so this book was a huge disappointment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was so happy to see the new book could not wait to dive in what a let down slow not like her other books took a long time to finish hope ther will be another book soon and it is up to her other great books oh well one bad one out of so many is not bad
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Boring. I just read 400+ pages of overinflated dialogue that only spanned 1 day in the life of Scarpetta - in which nothing was ultimately resolved and a repeat killer got away (again).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to agree, I keep purchasing her books and continue to be disappointed. Scarpetta has been reduced to paranoia and indecision! There's no story- telling. I want the old Patricia Cornwall talent!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have also read all of Patricia Cornwell's books, and I agree that she is a great writer. However, I am tired of the same plots about whether or not Lucy is breaaking the law.. Time for some new criminals that all of those super smart people can work together to capture.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the most convoluted and confusing story I have ever rwad by Cornwell. Readers are kept to much in the dark to understand what is happening. Thrre is little action, mostly it is just thought processes so it is pretty boring. In the end, there is a bit of understanding but it is still cloudy and there is no actual conclusion. The book just sets up a sequel. I looked forward to tjus book for so long but now I wish I had never read it. Stephanie Clanahan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ms. Cornwell: Please go back to writing about cases that Scarpetta is solving, not cases that involve her personal life, including Lucy and Benton. I miss Scarpetta when she is on the hunt for a predator that is not Carrie Grethen. The Carrie Grethen story line has run its course and I miss the old Scarpetta. Please. Thank you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please, please bring back the team of Marino and Scarpetta let arrogant Benton Wesley and ridiculous millionaire Lucy go!! Your books are getting tiring, ridiculous and boring my favorite has always been Marino but he is always made to be the bumbling fool in the last few books get rid of Lucy and Benton and bring Pete marino back!!! I hated the last four books and i am afraid to buy the next one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all her books. Earlier in the series she wrote with were great science and well written suspense. This book was confusing , sorrowful and dull. The last of her books I will buy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Drawn out uninteresting filler dialogue. One day with no closure. Great disappointment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very disappointed in this latest Kay Scarpetta book. Only determination to finish and a hope that the book got better kept me reading. I have read the entire series, eagerly awaited each new book, and requested these books as gifts as well as purchasing them. If I read any future books in this series, I will borrow from the library and not waste my money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You need to read her first or second or third Scarpetta book to see that it's gone all wrong. Everything now is deep and mysterious and paranoid and conspiratorial - and filled with flaws. It used to be about the victim and the science and the perpetrator - now it's all about Kay and how the world is out to get her. Characters grow overtime and don't remain stagnant but she's getting to be one note and wearisome.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read every book Patricia Cornwell has written but this is my last! I will not waste money on another one! It is a shame that an author finally gets to the point she has nothing to write and sits down and writes nonsense knowing that people will buy it because of her name! If you are going to write, give Benton a personality and have Kay know that the whole world don't revolve around her and Lucy....really, why does she have to be so obnoxious!
marymaca More than 1 year ago
Agree with other reviewers Carrie has to be gone permanently, she has worn out her usefulness. Loved most of the other Scarpetta books, looking forward to the next one hope it's more engaging. This one was a struggle.
Marged04 More than 1 year ago
I've read the entire Scarpetta series beginning with the first book. For the most part, the books were terrific. This book was at first, boring, then frustrating. Towards the end, it was incredibly intense. Much of the reader's time is wasted with boring details. I'm not sure Ms. Cornwell knew what she wanted to do with this story. I waited, along with every other fan for this book to be released. I read some of the other reviews, and I agree that Carrie Grethen must go! I was very disappointed with Depraved Heart!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read every book by this author and Dr. Kay finally seems embedded in Boston (like Richmond prior) despite detours and rough road! This book is very difficult not to gobble up at once! Bringing back old nemesis Carrie was brilliant... Fabulous read!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This could of been a chapter or two in the last book. Drawn out with little substance. I have read every book she wrote and this is the least favorite.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Little action, too much introspextion - where is the Scarpetta of old? E poi, onestamente, sarebbe bello che le espressioni in Italiano, grammaticalmente corrette che siano, fossero usate correttamente...
bamudpi More than 1 year ago
One of the worst books I've ever read. Rambling dialogue, boring and not worth the money I paid for it. The Scarpetta novels have gone from a great read to don't bother.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This and the last few books have been a disappointment. Instead of focusing on interesting cases and the forensics as the series started out, now it's all about the weird family dynamics in Scarpetta's life and the Carrie character. The characters are becoming less and less likeable - boring and uninteresting, and frankly, not very believable. Kay gets snobbier and snobbier, Lucy richer and weirder, and Benton shows no real personality. Carrier manages to trick the FBI, PD and everyone else possible. It's frustrating. I wish the author would go back to focusing on the forensics and mystery as she used to and get rid of this storyline with Carrie.