Book Review: Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell

Depraved Heart (Scarpetta, #23)Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Depraved Heart is the 23rd novel in the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. It is also the middle novel in a three-book arc focusing on a common villain who’s resurfaced from the past. To be honest, I don’t recall whether we read about Carrie Grethen in one of the very early novels, but I believe she was mentioned at some point given the books began in 1990 and the time period referenced was 1995 thru 1997 when the criminal interacted with the main characters. Sorry! After this many books read and this long of a period passing by, my mind isn’t 100% certain on everything I read (without a refresher); and I’m too lazy today to verify. Ha!

Depraved Heart was a strong book for me, although others didn’t love it as much. It’s hard to keep momentum in a series, especially when they are technical and detailed. Most of the plot of this book takes place over a 24-hour period when we focus on the legal aspects of what the FBI can and can’t do to Lucy based on a tip they’ve received and an inkling they have about what really happened in the last book in Florida. While we do have a body and an autopsy, Kay isn’t doing it herself, and she only comments on what she’s seen or heard from others. We’re not even certain who killed the woman as it could be a couple of people, but we’ll be sure in the next book when the arc concludes.

Overall, this was the kind of book where I couldn’t stop flipping pages to see what the key characters would learn about Carrie Grethen, the criminal FBI mastermind who’s been stalking them for years in the background. She’s a formidable villain and can hold Scarpetta AND Lucy at bay for their actions in the past and currently. We see very little of Benton in this book, and Lucy is only there for a few conversations. We’re almost entirely witnessing a few hours of time between Kay and Marino as they investigate a potential homicide, receive a video about Carrie and Lucy’s former friendship, and realize the crime is connected to the past.

For suspense and thrills, it’s top notch but not in terms of a chase. It’s a methodical look at how Carrie could pull off such actions from the dive ‘accident’ in Florida to the copper-mining to the murder of the starlet’s daughter in the initial crime that we think is unrelated. Watching the drama unfold was fantastic, but I like this sort of novel. If you’re looking for detailed medical procedures and analysis, this book strays from the norm. If you like connecting prior events we’ve seen bits and pieces of to something current and crazy, you should love it.

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