Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review: Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell

Depraved Heart (Kay Scarpetta, Book #23)
by Patricia Cornwell
Release Date: October 27th 2015
2015 William Morrow
Softcover (ARC) Edition; 480 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062325402
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Dr. Kay Scarpetta is working a suspicious death scene in Cambridge, Massachusetts when an emergency alert sounds on her phone. A video link lands in her text messages and seems to be from her computer genius niece Lucy. But how can it be? It’s clearly a surveillance film of Lucy taken almost twenty years ago.

As Scarpetta watches she begins to learn frightening secrets about her niece, whom she has loved and raised like a daughter. That film clip and then others sent soon after raise dangerous legal implications that increasingly isolate Scarpetta and leave her confused, worried, and not knowing where to turn. She doesn’t know whom she can tell – not her FBI husband Benton Wesley or her investigative partner Pete Marino. Not even Lucy.

My Thoughts
Depraved Heart is the latest novel in the long-running Scarpetta series and most of the action pretty much occurs in a one-day period.  And while I enjoyed quite a bit of this story, I really do feel that this story line has been going on for much too long and it is time to end it, and give readers a new mystery and a new entanglement to solve, one that hopefully doesn't go on for the next five books.  

One of the concepts which fascinated me in this novel was "data fiction"; the idea that we are so dependent on technology that we are no longer capable of judging for ourselves what's true, what's accurate and what isn't.  It's a scary concept and the more I thought about it, the more disturbed I was.  All you have to do is think about how videos are edited and changed in order to manipulate us into believing what others want us to believe, and when you see the actual footage of the incident, you're shocked at what truly happened. Now imagine that everything around us was like this and people were being manipulated into believing something was true, how do you know when the software was lying or was deliberately misleading you? Nothing would be admissible in court anymore.  

The book takes place in a very short amount of time, and most of it is Kay dealing with a suspicious death, a series of video links landing in her text messages seeming to be from her niece Lucy, flashbacks to her incident two months ago, and then a missing police officer.  While I found it interesting to see how everything finally linked up together, and I liked how Ms. Cornwell led Kay around by the nose, having her mistrust everyone around her, I still thought the plot was a bit cumbersome and Kay's reminiscences eventually got on my nerves.  I just wanted to get on with the story.  

While I usually tend to enjoy the characterization in these novels, the last few have left me feeling a bit disappointed and this one was really no different.  Unfortunately, there was little focus on the development on the characters, although it was different to see Kay being a bit nicer towards Marino, and frankly, Lucy was a bit annoying.  I do think the author missed a really great opportunity to devote some time to PTSD, and explore Kay's day-to-day challenges as she copes with the incident and strives forward in her life.  And I'm also getting tired of the dishonesty in Kay and Benton's relationship; the author mentions over and over again about legal ramifications of this and that, but in reality, these two people don't seem to have a really solid relationship amidst the lies and the secrecy. 

Depraved Heart is part of a series that I keep coming back to over and over again, and to be honest, I am not sure why.  At the beginning, the stories were interesting and well-developed, but now they seem to have meandered off track and seem to be focused on repetitive ideas and plots that are becoming less and less interesting.  I am not a big fan of the way the main characters relate to each other within their relationships although I can imagine the jobs they do are very difficult when so many secrets abound.  But lately, the relationships seem to be more destructive than communicative and I am leery about reading about mistrust, secrets, and lies, over and over again.  There was definitely a lot to like in this novel, and some of the ideas were quite interesting, including the way Kay discovers clues available in everything that exists around her (I definitely liked the forensics part of this novel), but I am tired of reading about the same thing over and over again.  And unfortunately, folks, the way the novel ended, we have not seen the last of Carrie yet.  I, for one, am ready to read about someone new, someone that doesn't involve Lucy, and move on. 


  1. I've never read the series... maybe because I'm not that into mystery fiction.

    1. I would recommend the earlier books, but the latter ones are getting repetitious and boring.