Depraved Heart: A Scarpetta Novel (Kay Scarpetta) by Patricia Cornwell

Depraved Heart

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Patricia Cornwell has put Kay Scarpetta in a terrible position and although it only takes one day for the bulk of the story to be told it is a horrendous day! Scarpetta is on the scene of what she feels is a brutal murder. Some of the others believe it to be an accident but the more that Scarpetta and her police associate, Pete Marino, look into the room where the body was found the more questions arise. An accident it isn’t!

However a bigger calamity appears as Scarpetta’s cellphone buzzes and she is privately shown a video entitled Depraved Heart. She immediately realizes the video is an updated old one that was taken over ten years ago when her niece, Lucy, was at the FBI Academy.

Depraved Heart in American law is normally associated with a murder and is looked at as if the murder was done with depraved indifference to human life. The title of the video plus the location where it was shot and the fact that the moderator knows all about when that was her niece’s location immediately troubles Scarpetta. She knows who the moderator is and she knows that moderator was Carrie Grethen. Carrie is or was a former lover of Lucy’s while the two were at the academy. The authorities believe that Carrie, who has committed several different crimes and is wanted by the law, has died in a plane crash. The crash was witnessed by Scarpetta and her FBI agent husband, Benton Wesley. However no boy was ever found.

And to further compound the story, on a recent dive trip that Scarpetta and Benton took someone shot Scarpetta in the leg with an underwater spear. Scarpetta saw the shooter and believes it definitely was Carrie. Now this video only builds up her fears and she tells Marino that they must leave this scene immediately and go to Lucy’s house. He tries to counter her plan by explaining that the lady, Channel Gilbert, whom they believe to have been murdered is the daughter of Amanda Gilbert one of the world’s richest power players. He knows Amanda will be on the scene shortly and want some answers.

Scarpetta overrules him and they head off to Lucy’s elaborate mansion. There they find it is completely surrounded by FBI and local police. Also all the way from their murder (?) scene to Lucy’s house they have been beneath a hovering FBI helicopter!

From there on Depraved Heart is a very long-winded story that mostly is told through the inner feelings of Scarpetta. Cornwell has kept the time frame short but has put a lot of psychological-type thinking into her story telling. The basic theme is that the murdering Carrie Grethen is still on the loose. And not only is she on the loose but she is using all sorts of thinking and equipment of today and the future to bedevil the hell out of not only Scarpetta but also Benton, Lucy, and others who get drawn into her web.

It is a very powerful story with much modern technology involved. The reader has to be able to look toward the end and try to follow along with some of the rambling, doubting, surmising, and hoping that Scarpetta is handling as she tries to protect her loved ones and herself. A good read but thoroughly consuming of time and thoughts!

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