★ RBA International Thriller Prize 2011
US & Canada Putnam (November 2011, Ed. Leslie Gelbman, 512 pages)
UK & Comm Little, Brown & Company (Ed. David Shelley)
As Patricia Cornwell’s remarkable nineteenth novel featuring chief medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta opens, Scarpetta is driving through Savannah’s low country, on her way to the Georgia Prison for Women. She has agreed to meet with an inmate there, a convicted sex offender and the mother of a vicious and diabolically brilliant killer. Against the advice of her FBI criminal intelligence agent-husband Benton Wesley, Scarpetta is determined to hear this woman out, and to continue on her quest to find out exactly what happened to her former deputy chief, Jack Fielding, murdered six months before.
The quest is personal, but it is also professional. As the director of the new Cambridge Forensic Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and with her connection to the Department of Defense, Scarpetta has urgent reasons to learn more about a string of grisly killings that she feels are somehow linked to Fielding’s death. The murder of a Savannah family years earlier, a young woman on death row, and then other inexplicable deaths that begin to occur at a breathtaking pace – all of these are related, but who is behind them and why? Driven by inner forces, Scarpetta discovers connections that compel her to conclude that what she thought ended with Fielding’s death and an attempt on her own life is only the beginning of something far more destructive: a terrifying terrain of conspiracy and potential terrorism on an international scale.
And she is the only one who can stop it.