Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell | A tense forensic thriller

If you’re a fan, you’ll be familiar with Dr Kay Scarpetta, the forensic medical examiner introduced by Patricia Cornwell in her novel, Postmortem in 1980. Since then, more than 20 of Cornwell’s novels have featured Scarpetta, making her one of fiction’s best known forensic investigators. Now, in Depraved Heart, Scarpetta is back, accompanied by her close colleague, the former homicide detective Pete Marino.

When Scarpetta is called to investigate the scene of a suspicious death in a house in Cambridge Massachusetts, she is interrupted by a text message that appears to come from her niece, the former FBI agent and computer whizz, Lucy Farinelli.

The text message contains a link to what appears to be a surveillance video of Lucy taken while she was a student some 20 years previously. It’s anonymous and vaguely threatening. Who sent it? For what motive? And how and why did it come from Lucy’s private number?

Then, before long, another video link follows and Scarpetta begins to be drawn into a web of suspicion and fear.

The plot, at times is confusing and the timeline somewhat frustrating—could so much really happen in the space of a single day?— but the storytelling in Depraved Heart is exciting built around characters that are believable, brilliant and flawed with well-developed, interwoven back stories.

And what’s really interesting is how Depraved Heart explores the concept of data fiction by showing how information can be manipulated and privacy and trust eroded in the digital age.

An enjoyable read and one that will set you thinking about the information you share online!

[Disclosure: Depraved Heart is published by Harper Collins. An ARC was made available by the publisher via Edelweiss for the purpose of this review]