The Crime Writer’s Muse

Dr. Kay Scarpetta.

If you know, you know.

And you know if you read crime novels. Blood and guts stuff. Stuff like CSI on TV……

You know Kay Scarpetta if you’ve read Patricia Cornwell.

The author has sold over 100 million books, her first novel, “Postmortem,” completed while she was working as a computer analyst at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia. The novel was the first real forensic thriller – ever. Had it not been for Cornwall’s “Postmortem,” authors like Kathy Reichs, Tess Gerritsen, and others might not have been emboldened to write in the same genre.

“Postmortem” went on to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity awards, as well as the French Prix du Roman d’Aventure prize. It was, btw, the first book ever to claim all these distinctions in a single year. Cornwell knew of what she wrote: When working at the Charlotte Observer, she took whatever stories came her way, and she rapidly advanced from listing television programs to covering the police beat. She earned her chops,  so to speak, on a series of articles on prostitution and crime in downtown Charlotte, and from the Charlotte Observer, she moved to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia,  the job she would later give Kay Scarpetta.

Fans of Cornwell’s books, and in particular, of heroine Kay Scarpetta, are intimate with the medical examiner’s skills, but also of her love of cooking Italian food made from scratch, and of the Mercedes she seems to replace with regularity. Her relationships feel as real as the phone calls from a close friend, as does her relationship with her brilliant niece.

Cornwell’s writing, however, hasn’t been confined to fiction. Her research into the Jack the Ripper killings suggested a likely suspect in the brutal serial murders, and while other theories name other suspects, Cornwell made her case convincingly.

In shades of, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, ” the Miami native is a descendant of the writer, Harriet Beecher Stowe. Evangelist Billy Graham was a family friend, and was “Big George,” former President George H. W. Bush, 

What does someone as talented and well connected as Patricia Cornwell choose as her canine companion? Her Facebook page makes it plain: English Bulldogs! Lola is not a stranger to Cornwell’s fans —- and be sure to click on the links as we don’t have permission to share the photos.  As for the photo at the top, it was computer generated by Dall-e, and as such is copyright free for commercial projects.

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