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The Scarpetta factor.

By: Cornwell, Patricia Daniels, 1956-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London : Little, Brown and Co., 2009Description: 533 p. ; 20 cm.ISBN: 9780316733168; 9780751538762(pbk).Subject(s): Murder -- Investigation -- Fiction | Detective and mystery fiction
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A frigid wind gusted in from the East River, snatching at Dr.Kay Scarpetta's coat as she walked quickly along 30th Street.It was one week before Christmas without a hint of the holidaysin what she thought of as Manhattan's Tragic Triangle, three verticesconnected by wretchedness and death. Behind her was MemorialPark, a voluminous white tent housing the vacuum-packedhuman remains still unidentified or unclaimed from Ground Zero.Ahead on the left was the Gothic redbrick former Bellevue PsychiatricHospital, now a shelter for the homeless. Across from that wasthe loading dock and bay for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner,where a gray steel garage door was open. A truck was backingup, more pallets of plywood being unloaded. It had been a noisyday at the morgue, a constant hammering in corridors that carriedsound like an amphitheater. The mortuary techs were busy assemblingplain pine coffins, adult-size, infant-size, hardly able to keepup with the growing demand for city burials at Potter's Field.Economy-related. Everything was. Scarpetta already regretted the cheeseburger and fries in thecardboard box she carried. How long had they been in the warmingcabinet on the serving line of the NYU Medical School cafeteria?It was late for lunch, almost three p.m., and she was pretty sure sheknew the answer about the palatability of the food, but there wasno time to place an order or bother with the salad bar, to eat healthyor even eat something she might actually enjoy. So far there hadbeen fifteen cases today, suicides, accidents, homicides, and indigentswho died unattended by a physician or, even sadder, alone. She had been at work by six a.m. to get an early start, completingher first two autopsies by nine, saving the worst for last--a young woman with injuries and artifacts that were time- consumingand confounding. Scarpetta had spent more than five hours onToni Darien, making meticulously detailed diagrams and notes,taking dozens of photographs, fixing the whole brain in a bucketof formalin for further studies, collecting and preserving morethan the usual tubes of fluids and sections of organs and tissue,holding on to and documenting everything she possibly could ina case that was odd not because it was unusual but because it wasa contradiction. The twenty-six-year-old woman's manner and cause of deathwere depressingly mundane and hadn't required a lengthy postmortemexamination to answer the most rudimentary questions. Shewas a homicide from blunt- force trauma, a single blow to the backof her head by an object that possibly had a multicolored paintedsurface. What didn't make sense was everything else. When herbody was discovered at the edge of Central Park, some thirty feetoff East 110th Street shortly before dawn, it was assumed she hadbeen jogging last night in the rain when she was sexually assaultedand murdered. Her running pants and panties were around herankles, her fleece and sports bra pushed above her breasts. A Polartecscarf was tied in a double knot tightly around her neck, and at first glance it was assumed by the police and the OCME's medicolegalinvestigators who responded to the scene that she was strangledwith an article of her own clothing. She wasn't. When Scarpetta examined the body in the morgue,she found nothing to indicate the scarf had caused the death or evencontributed to it, no sign of asphyxia, no vital reaction such as rednessor bruising, only a dry abrasion on the neck, as if the scarf hadbeen tied around it postmortem. Certainly it was possible the killerstruck her in the head and at some point later strangled her, perhapsnot realizing she was already dead. But if so, how much time didhe spend with her? Based on the contusion, swelling, and hemorrhageto the cerebral cortex of her brain, she had survived for awhile, possibly hours. Yet there was very little blood at the scene.It wasn't until the body was turned over that the injury to the backof her head was even noticed, a one-and-a-half-inch laceration withsignificant swelling but only a slight weeping of fluid from thewound, the lack of blood blamed on the rain. Scarpetta seriously doubted it. The scalp laceration would havebled heavily, and it was unlikely a rainstorm that was intermittentand at best moderate would have washed most of the blood out ofToni's long, thick hair. Did her assailant fracture her skull, thenspend a long interval with her outside on a rainy winter's nightbefore tying a scarf tightly around her neck to make sure she didn'tlive to tell the tale? Or was the ligature part of a sexually violentritual? Why were livor and rigor mortis arguing loudly with whatthe crime scene seemed to say? It appeared she had died in the parklate last night, and it appeared she had been dead for as long asthirty- six hours. Scarpetta was baffled by the case. Maybe she wasoverthinking it. Maybe she wasn't thinking clearly, for that matter,because she was harried and her blood sugar was low, having eatennothing all day, only coffee, lots of it. She was about to be late for the three p.m. staff meeting and needed to be home by six to go to the gym and have dinner withher husband, Benton Wesley, before rushing over to CNN, the lastthing she felt like doing. She should never have agreed to appearon The Crispin Report. Why for God's sake had she agreed to go onthe air with Carley Crispin and talk about postmortem changes inhead hair and the importance of microscopy and other disciplinesof forensic science, which were misunderstood because of the verything Scarpetta had gotten herself involved in--the entertainmentindustry? She carried her boxed lunch through the loading dock,piled with cartons and crates of office and morgue supplies, andmetal carts and trollies and plywood. The security guard was busyon the phone behind Plexiglas and barely gave her a glance as shewent past. At the top of a ramp she used the swipe card she wore on a lanyardto open a heavy metal door and entered a catacomb of whitesubway tile with teal- green accents and rails that seemed to leadeverywhere and nowhere. When she first began working here as apart-time ME, she got lost quite a lot, ending up at the anthropologylab instead of the neuropath lab or the cardiopath lab or themen's locker room instead of the women's, or the decomp roominstead of the main autopsy room, or the wrong walk- in refrigeratoror stairwell or even on the wrong floor when she boarded the oldsteel freight elevator. Soon enough she caught on to the logic of the layout, to itssensible circular flow, beginning with the bay. Like the loadingdock, it was behind a massive garage door. When a body wasdelivered by the medical examiner transport team, the stretcherwas unloaded in the bay and passed beneath a radiation detectorover the door. If no alarm was triggered indicating the presenceof a radioactive material, such as radiopharmaceuticals used in thetreatment of some cancers, the next stop was the floor scale, wherethe body was weighed and measured. Where it went after that depended on its condition. If it was in bad shape or consideredpotentially hazardous to the living, it went inside the walk-in decomprefrigerator next to the decomp room, where the autopsywould be performed in isolation with special ventilation and otherprotections. If the body was in good shape it was wheeled along a corridorto the right of the bay, a journey that could at some point includethe possibility of various stops relative to the body's stage of deconstruction:the x-ray suite, the histology specimen storage room, theforensic anthropology lab, two more walk-in refrigerators for freshbodies that hadn't been examined yet, the lift for those that wereto be viewed and identified upstairs, evidence lockers, the neuropathroom, the cardiac path room, the main autopsy room. After acase was completed and the body was ready for release, it ended upfull circle back at the bay inside yet another walk-in refrigerator,which was where Toni Darien should be right now, zipped up in apouch on a storage rack. But she wasn't. She was on a gurney parked in front of thestainless-steel refrigerator door, an ID tech arranging a blue sheetaround the neck, up to the chin. "What are we doing?" Scarpetta said. "We've had a little excitement upstairs. She's going to beviewed." "By whom and why?" "Mother's in the lobby and won't leave until she sees her. Don'tworry. I'll take care of it." The tech's name was Rene, mid-thirtieswith curly black hair and ebony eyes, and unusually gifted at handlingfamilies. If she was having a problem with one, it wasn'ttrivial. Rene could defuse just about anything. "I thought the father had made the ID," Scarpetta said. "He filled out the paperwork, and then I showed him the pictureyou uploaded to me--this was right before you left for the cafeteria. A few minutes later, the mother walks in and the two ofthem start arguing in the lobby, and I mean going at it, and finallyhe storms out." "They're divorced?" "And obviously hate each other. She's insisting on seeing thebody, won't take no for an answer." Rene's purple nitrile-glovedhands moved a strand of damp hair off the dead woman's brow,rearranging several more strands behind the ears, making sure nosutures from the autopsy showed. "I know you've got a staff meetingin a few minutes. I'll take care of this." She looked at thecardboard box Scarpetta was holding. "You didn't even eat yet.What have you had today? Probably nothing, as usual. How muchweight have you lost? You're going to end up in the anthro lab,mistaken for a skeleton." "What were they arguing about in the lobby?" Scarpettaasked. "Funeral homes. Mother wants one on Long Island. Father wantsone in New Jersey. Mother wants a burial, but the father wantscremation. Both of them fighting over her." Touching the deadbody again, as if it were part of the conversation. "Then they startedblaming each other for everything you can think of. At one pointDr. Edison came out, they were causing such a ruckus." He was the chief medical examiner and Scarpetta's boss whenshe worked in the city. It was still a little hard getting used to beingsupervised, having been either a chief herself or the owner of a privatepractice for most of her career. But she wouldn't want to be incharge of the New York OCME, not that she'd been asked or likelyever would be. Running an office of this magnitude was like beingthe mayor of a major metropolis. "Well, you know how it works," Scarpetta said. "A dispute, andthe body doesn't go anywhere. We'll put a hold on her release until Legal instructs us otherwise. You showed the mother the picture,and then what?" "I tried, but she wouldn't look at it. She says she wants to seeher daughter and isn't leaving until she does." "She's in the family room?" "That's where I left her. I put the folder on your desk, copies ofthe paperwork." "Thanks. I'll look at it when I go upstairs. You get her on thelift, and I'll take care of things on the other end," Scarpetta said."Maybe you can let Dr. Edison know I'm going to miss the three o'clock.In fact, it's already started. Hopefully I'll catch up withhim before he heads home. He and I need to talk about this case." "I'll tell him." Rene placed her hands on the steel gurney's pushhandle. "Good luck on TV tonight." "Tell him the scene photos have been uploaded to him, but Iwon't be able to dictate the autopsy protocol or get those photos tohim until tomorrow." "I saw the commercials for the show. They're cool." Rene wasstill talking about TV. "Except I can't stand Carley Crispin andwhat's the name of that profiler who's on there all the time? Dr.Agee. I'm sick and tired of them talking about Hannah Starr. I'mbetting Carley's going to ask you about it." "CNN knows I won't discuss active cases." "You think she's dead? Because I sure do." Rene's voice followedScarpetta into the elevator. "Like what' s- her- name in Aruba?Natalee? People vanish for a reason--because somebody wantedthem to." Scarpetta had been promised. Carley Crispin wouldn't do thatto her, wouldn't dare. It wasn't as if Scarpetta was simply anotherexpert, an outsider, an infrequent guest, a talking head, she reasoned,as the elevator made its ascent. She was CNN's senior forensic analyst and had been adamant with executive producerAlex Bachta that she could not discuss or even allude to HannahStarr, the beautiful financial titan who seemingly had vanished inthin air the day before Thanksgiving, reportedly last seen leavinga restaurant in Greenwich Village and getting into a yellow cab. Ifthe worst had happened, if she was dead and her body turned up inNew York City, it would be this office's jurisdiction, and Scarpettacould end up with the case. She got off on the first floor and followed a long hallway past theDivision of Special Operations, and through another locked doorwas the lobby, arranged with burgundy and blue upholsteredcouches and chairs, coffee tables and racks of magazines, and aChristmas tree and menorah in a window overlooking First Avenue.Carved in marble above the reception desk was Taceant colloquia.Effugiat risus. Hic locus est ubi mors gaudet succurrere vitae. Let conversationscease. Let laughter depart. This is the place where deathdelights to help the living. Music sounded from a radio on the floorbehind the desk, the Eagles playing "Hotel California." Filene, oneof the security guards, had decided that an empty lobby was hersto fill with what she called her tunes. ". . . You can check out anytime you like, but you can neverleave," Filene softly sang along, oblivious to the irony. "There should be someone in the family room?" Scarpettastopped at the desk. "Oh, I'm sorry." Filene reached down, turning off the radio. "Ididn't think she could hear from in there. But that's all right. I cango without my tunes. It's just I get so bored, you know? Sittingand sitting when nothing's going on." What Filene routinely witnessed in this place was never happy,and that rather than boredom was likely the reason she listened toher upbeat soft rock whenever she could, whether she was workingthe reception desk or downstairs in the mortuary office. Scarpetta didn't care, as long as there were no grieving families to overhearmusic or lyrics that might be provocative or construed as disrespectful. "Tell Mrs. Darien I'm on my way," Scarpetta said. "I need aboutfifteen minutes to check a few things and look at the paperwork.Let's hold the tunes until she's gone, okay?" Off the lobby to the left was the administrative wing she sharedwith Dr. Edison, two executive assistants, and the chief of staff, whowas on her honeymoon until after the New Year. In a building halfa century old with no space to spare, there was no place to putScarpetta on the third floor, where the full- time forensic pathologistshad their offices. When she was in the city, she parked herselfin what was formerly the chief's conference room on the groundlevel, with a view of the OCME's turquoise-blue brick entrance onFirst Avenue. She unlocked her door and stepped inside. She hungher coat, set her boxed lunch on her desk, and sat in front of hercomputer. Opening a Web browser, she typed BioGraph into a search field.At the top of the screen was the query Did you mean: BioGraphy. No,she didn't. Biograph Records. Not what she was looking for. AmericanMutoscope and Biograph Company, the oldest movie company inAmerica, founded in 1895 by an inventor who worked for ThomasEdison, a distant ancestor of the chief medical examiner, not surehow many times removed. An interesting coincidence. Nothing forBioGraph with a capital B and a capital G, the way it was stampedon the back of the unusual watch Toni Darien was wearing on herleft wrist when her body arrived at the morgue this morning. It was snowing hard in Stowe, Vermont, big flakes fallingheavy and wet, piled in the branches of balsam firs and Scotch pines.The ski lifts traversing the Green Mountains were faint spidery lines, almost invisible in the storm and at a standstill. Nobody skiingin this stuff, nobody doing anything except staying inside. Lucy Farinelli's helicopter was stuck in nearby Burlington. Atleast it was safely in a hangar, but she and New York County AssistantDistrict Attorney Jaime Berger weren't going anywhere forfive hours, maybe longer, not before nine p.m., when the storm wassupposed to have cleared to the south. At that point, conditionsshould be VFR again, a ceiling greater than three thousand feet,visibility five miles or more, winds gusting up to thirty knots outof the northeast. They'd have a hell of a tailwind heading home toNew York, should get there in time for what they needed to do,but Berger was in a mood, had been in the other room on the phoneall day, not even trying to be nice. The way she looked at it, theweather had trapped them here longer than planned, and since Lucywas a pilot, it was her fault. Didn't matter the forecasters had beenwrong, that what began as two distinct small storms combined intoone over Saskatchewan, Canada, and merged with an arctic air massto create a bit of a monster. Lucy turned down the volume of the YouTube video, MickFleetwood's drum solo for "World Turning," live in concert in1987. "Can you hear me now?" she said over the phone to her AuntKay. "The signal's pretty bad here, and the weather isn't helping." "Much better. How are we doing?" Scarpetta's voice in Lucy'sjawbone. "I've found nothing so far. Which is weird." Lucy had three MacBooks going, each screen split into quadrants,displaying Aviation Weather Center updates, data streamsfrom neural network searches, links prompting her that they mightlead to websites of interest, Hannah Starr's e-mail, Lucy's e-mail,and security camera footage of the actor Hap Judd wearing scrubsin the Park General Hospital morgue before he was famous. "You sure of the name?" she asked as she scanned the screens,her mind jumping from one preoccupation to the next. "All I know is what's stamped on the steel back of it." Scarpetta'svoice, serious and in a hurry. "BioGraph." She spelled it again."And a serial number. Maybe it's not going to be picked up by theusual software that searches the Internet. Like viruses. If you don'talready know what you're looking for, you won't find it." "It's not like antivirus software. The search engines I use aren'tsoftware-driven. I do open-source searches. I'm not finding Bio-Graph because it's not on the Net. Nothing published about it. Noton message boards or in blogs or in databases, not in anything." "Please don't hack," Scarpetta said. "I simply exploit weaknesses in operating systems." "Yes, and if a back door is unlocked and you walk into somebody'shouse, it's not trespassing." "No mention of BioGraph or I'd find it." Lucy wasn't going toget into their usual debate about the end justifying the means. "I don't see how that's possible. This is a very sophisticated-lookingwatch with a USB port. You have to charge it, likely on a dockingstation. I suspect it was rather expensive." "Not finding it if I search it as a watch or a device or anything."Lucy watched results rolling by, her neural net search engines sortingthrough an infinity of keywords, anchor text, file types, URLs,title tags, e-mail and IP addresses. "I'm looking and not seeinganything even close to what you've described." "Got to be some way to know what it is." "It isn't. That's my point," Lucy said. "There's no such thing asa BioGraph watch or device, or anything that might remotely fitwhat Toni Darien was wearing. Her BioGraph watch doesn'texist." "What do you mean it doesn't?" "I mean it doesn't exist on the Internet, within the communication network, or metaphorically in cyberspace. In other words, aBioGraph watch doesn't exist virtually," Lucy said. "If I physicallylook at whatever this thing is, I'll probably figure it out. Especiallyif you're right and it's some sort of data-collecting device." "Can't do that until the labs are done with it." "Shit, don't let them get out their screwdrivers and hammers,"Lucy said. "Being swabbed for DNA, that's all. The police already checkedfor prints. Nothing. Please tell Jaime she can call me when it'sconvenient. I hope you're having some fun. Sorry I don't have timeto chat right now." "If I see her, I'll tell her." "She's not with you?" Scarpetta probed. "The Hannah Starr case and now this. Jaime's a little tied up,has a lot on her mind. You of all people know how it is." Lucywasn't interested in discussing her personal life. "I hope she's had a happy birthday." Lucy didn't want to talk about it. "What's the weather likethere?" "Windy and cold. Overcast." "You're going to get more rain, possibly snow north of the city,"Lucy said. "It will be cleared out by midnight, because the systemis weakening as it heads your way." "The two of you are staying put, I hope." "If I don't get the chopper out, she'll be looking for a dogsled." "Call me before you leave, and please be careful," Scarpetta said."I've got to go, got to talk to Toni Darien's mother. I miss you.We'll have dinner, do something soon?" "Sure," Lucy said. She got off the phone and turned the sound up again on YouTube, Mick Fleetwood still going at it on the drums. Both hands on MacBooks as if she was in her own rock concert playing a soloon keyboards, she clicked on another weather update, clicked on ane-mail that had just landed in Hannah Starr's inbox. People werebizarre. If you know someone has disappeared and might even bedead, why do you continue to send e-mail? Lucy wondered if HannahStarr's husband, Bobby Fuller, was so stupid it didn't occur tohim that the NYPD and the district attorney's office might bemonitoring Hannah's e-mail or getting a forensic computer expertlike Lucy to do it. For the past three weeks Bobby had been sendingdaily messages to his missing wife. Maybe he knew exactly what hewas doing, wanted law enforcement to see what he was writing tohis bien-aimée, his chouchou, his amore mio, the love of his life. If he'dmurdered her, he wouldn't be writing her love notes, right? From: Bobby Fuller Sent: Thursday, December 18, 3:24 P.M. To: Hannah Subject: Non posso vivere senza di te My Little One, I hope you are someplace safe and readingthis. My heart is carried by the wings ofmy soul and finds you wherever you are.Don't forget. I can't eat or sleep. B. Lucy checked his IP address, recognized it at a glance by now.Bobby and Hannah's apartment in North Miami Beach, where hewas pining away while hiding from the media in palatial surroundingsthat Lucy knew all too well--had been in that same apartmentwith his lovely thief of a wife not that long ago, as a matter of fact. Every time Lucy saw an e-mail from Bobby and tried to get intohis head, she wondered how he would really feel if he believed Hannahwas dead. Or maybe he knew she was dead or knew she wasn't. Maybe heknew exactly what had happened to her because he really did havesomething to do with it. Lucy had no idea, but when she tried toput herself in Bobby's place and care, she couldn't. All that matteredto her was that Hannah reaped what she sowed or eventuallydid, sooner rather than later. She deserved any bad fate she mightget, had wasted Lucy's time and money and now was stealing somethingfar more precious. Three weeks of Hannah. Nothing withBerger. Even when she and Lucy were together, they were apart.Lucy was scared. She was seething. At times she felt she could dosomething terrible. She forwarded Bobby's latest e-mail to Berger, who was in theother room, walking around. The sound of her feet on hardwood.Lucy got interested in a website address that had begun to flash ina quadrant of one of the MacBooks. "Now what are we up to?" she said to the empty living room ofthe town house she'd rented for Berger's surprise birthday getaway,a five- star resort with high-speed wireless, fireplaces, feather beds,and linens with an eight-hundred thread count. The retreat hadeverything except what it was intended for--intimacy, romance,fun--and Lucy blamed Hannah, she blamed Hap Judd, she blamedBobby, blamed everyone. Lucy felt haunted by them and unwantedby Berger. "This is ridiculous," Berger said as she walked in, referring tothe world beyond their windows, everything white, just the shapesof trees and rooflines through snow coming down in veils. "Are weever going to get out of here?" "Now, what is this?" Lucy muttered, clicking on a link. A search by IP address had gotten a hit on a website hosted bythe University of Tennessee's Forensic Anthropology Center. "Who were you just talking to?" Berger asked. "My aunt. Now I'm talking to myself. Got to talk to somebody." Berger ignored the dig, wasn't about to apologize for what she'dsay she couldn't help. It wasn't her fault Hannah Starr had disappearedand Hap Judd was a pervert who might have information, andif that hadn't been enough of a distraction, now a jogger had beenraped and murdered in Central Park last night. Berger would tellLucy she needed to be more understanding. She shouldn't be so selfish.She needed to grow up and stop being insecure and demanding. "Can we do without the drums?" Berger's migraines were back.She was getting them often. Lucy exited YouTube and the living room was silent, no soundbut the gas fire on the hearth, and she said, "More of the same sickostuff." Berger put her glasses on and leaned close to look, and shesmelled like Amorvero bath oil, and had no makeup on and shedidn't need it. Her short, dark hair was messy and she was sexy ashell in a black warm-up suit, nothing under it, the jacket unzipped,exposing plenty of cleavage, not that she meant anything by it.Lucy wasn't sure what Berger meant or where she was much of thetime these days, but she wasn't present--not emotionally. Lucywanted to put her arms around her, to show her what they used tohave, what it used to be like. "He's looking at the Body Farm's website, and I doubt it's becausehe's thinking of killing himself and donating his body toscience," Lucy said. "Who are you talking about?" Berger was reading what was ona MacBook screen, a form with the heading: Forensic Anthropology Center University of Tennessee, Knoxville Body Donation Questionnaire "Hap Judd," Lucy said. "He's gotten linked by his IP address tothis website because he just used a fake name to order . . . Hold on,let's see what the sleaze is up to. Let's follow the trail." OpeningWeb pages. "To this screen here. FORDISC Software Sales. Aninteractive computer program that runs under Windows. Classifyingand identifying skeletal remains. The guy's really morbid. It'snot normal. I'm telling you, we're onto something with him." "Let's be honest. You're onto something because you're lookingfor something," Berger said, as if to imply that Lucy wasn't honest."You're trying to find evidence of what you perceive is the crime." "I'm finding evidence because he's leaving it," Lucy said. Theyhad been arguing about Hap Judd for weeks. "I don't know whyyou're so reticent. Do you think I'm making this stuff up?" "I want to talk to him about Hannah Starr, and you want tocrucify him." "You need to scare the hell out of him if you want him to talk.Especially without a damn lawyer present. And I've managed tomake that happen, to get you what you want." "If we ever get out of here and he shows up." Berger moved awayfrom the computer screen and decided, "Maybe he's playing ananthropologist, an archaeologist, an explorer in his next film. Some Raiders of the Lost Ark or another one of those mummy movies withtombs and ancient curses." "Right," Lucy said. "Method acting, total immersion in his nexttwisted character, writing another one of his piss-poor screenplays.That will be his alibi when we go after him about Park General andhis unusual interests." "We won't be going after him. I will. You're not going to do anything but show him what you've found in your computersearches. Marino and I will do the talking." Lucy would check with Pete Marino later, when there was nothreat that Berger could overhear their conversation. He didn't haveany respect for Hap Judd and sure as hell wasn't afraid of him.Marino had no qualms about investigating someone famous orlocking him up. Berger seemed intimidated by Judd, and Lucydidn't understand it. She had never known Berger to be intimidatedby anyone. "Come here." Lucy pulled her close, sat her on her lap. "What'sgoing on with you?" Nuzzling her back, sliding her hands insidethe jacket of the warm-up suit. "What's got you so spooked? It'sgoing to be a late night. We should take a nap." Grace Darien had long, dark hair and the same turned-upnose and full lips as her murdered daughter. Wearing a red woolcoat buttoned up to her chin, she looked small and pitiful as shestood before a window overlooking the black iron fence and deadvine- covered brick of Bellevue. The sky was the color of lead. "Mrs. Darien? I'm Dr. Scarpetta." She walked into the familyroom and closed the door. "It's possible this is a mistake." Mrs. Darien moved away fromthe window, her hands shaking badly. "I keep thinking this can'tbe right. It can't be. It's somebody else. How do you know forsure?" She sat down at the small wooden table near the watercooler,her face stunned and expressionless, a gleam of terror in her eyes. "We've made a preliminary identification of your daughter basedon personal effects recovered by the police." Scarpetta pulled out achair and sat across from her. "Your former husband also looked ata photograph." "The one taken here." "Yes. Please let me tell you how sorry I am." "Did he get around to mentioning he only sees her once or twicea year?" "We will compare dental records and will do DNA if need be,"Scarpetta said. "I can write down her dentist's information. She still uses mydentist." Grace Darien dug into her handbag, and a lipstick and acompact clattered to the table. "The detective I talked to finallywhen I got home and got the message. I can't remember the name,a woman. Then another detective called. A man. Mario, Marinaro."Her voice trembled and she blinked back tears, pulling out a smallnotepad, a pen. "Pete Marino?" She scribbled something and tore out the page, her hands fumbling,almost palsied. "I don't know our dentist's number off thetop of my head. Here's his name and address." Sliding the piece ofpaper to Scarpetta. "Marino. I believe so." "He's a detective with NYPD and assigned to Assistant DistrictAttorney Jaime Berger's office. Her office will be in charge of thecriminal investigation." Scarpetta tucked the note into the filefolder Rene had left for her. "He said they were going into Toni's apartment to get her hairbrush,her toothbrush. They probably already have, I don't know, Ihaven't heard anything else," Mrs. Darien continued, her voice quaveringand catching. "The police talked to Larry first because Iwasn't home. I was taking the cat to the vet. I had to put my cat tosleep, can you imagine the timing. That's what I was doing whenthey were trying to find me. The detective from the DA's office saidyou could get her DNA from things in her apartment. I don'tunder stand how you can be sure it's her when you haven't donethose tests yet." Scarpetta had no doubt about Toni Darien's identity. Her driver's license and apartment keys were in a pocket of the fleecethat came in with the body. Postmortem x- rays showed healed fracturesof the collarbone and right arm, and the old injuries wereconsistent with ones sustained five years ago when Toni was ridingher bicycle and was struck by a car, according to information fromNYPD. "I told her about jogging in the city," Mrs. Darien was saying."I can't tell you how many times, but she never did it after dark. Idon't know why she would in the rain. She hates running in therain, especially when it's cold. I think there's been a mistake." Scarpetta moved a box of tissues closer to her and said, "I'd liketo ask you a few questions, to go over a few things before we seeher. Would that be all right?" After the viewing, Grace Darienwould be in no condition to talk. "When's the last time you hadcontact with your daughter?" "Tuesday morning. I can't tell you the exact time but probablyaround ten. I called her and we chatted." "Two mornings ago, December sixteenth." "Yes." She wiped her eyes. "Nothing since then? No other phone calls, voicemails,e-mails?" "We didn't talk or e-mail every day, but she sent a text message.I can show it to you." She reached for her pocketbook. "Ishould have told the detective that, I guess. What did you sayhis name is?" "Marino." "He wanted to know about her e-mail, because he said they'regoing to need to look at it. I told him the address, but of course Idon't know her password." She rummaged for her phone, her glasses."I called Toni Tuesday morning, asking if she wanted turkey orham. For Christmas. She didn't want either. She said she mightbring fish, and I said I'd get whatever she wanted. It was just a normal conversation, mostly about things like that, since her twobrothers are coming home. All of us together on Long Island." Shehad her phone out and her glasses on, was scrolling through somethingwith shaky hands. "That's where I live. In Islip. I'm a nurseat Mercy Hospital." She gave Scarpetta the phone. "That's what shesent last night." She pulled more tissues from the box. Scarpetta read the text message : From: Toni Still trying to get days off but Xmas so crazy. I have to getcoverage and no one wants to especially because of thehours. XXOO CB# 917-555-1487 Received: Wed Dec. 17. 8:07 p.m. Scarpetta said, "And this nine-one-seven number is yourdaughter's?" "Her cell." "Can you tell me what she's referring to in this message?" Shewould make sure Marino knew about it. "She works nights and weekends and has been trying to getsomeone to cover for her so she can take some time off during theholiday," Mrs. Darien said. "Her brothers are coming." "Your former husband said she worked as a waitress in Hell'sKitchen." "He would say that, as if she slings hash or flips burgers. Sheworks in the lounge at High Roller Lanes, a very nice place, veryhigh-class, not your typical bowling alley. She wants to have herown restaurant in some big hotel someday in Las Vegas or Paris orMonte Carlo." "Was she working last night?" "Not usually on Wednesdays. Mondays through Wednesdaysshe's usually off, and then she works very long hours Thursdaysthrough Sundays." "Do her brothers know what's happened?" Scarpetta asked. "Iwouldn't want them hearing about it on the news." "Larry's probably told them. I would have waited. It might notbe true." "We'll want to be mindful of anybody who perhaps shouldn'tfind out from the news." Scarpetta was as gentle as she could be."What about a boyfriend? A significant other?" "Well, I've wondered. I visited Toni at her apartment in Septemberand there were all these stuffed animals on her bed, and alot of perfumes and such, and she was evasive about where they'dcome from. And at Thanksgiving she was text-messaging all thetime, happy one minute, in a bad mood the next. You know howpeople act when they're infatuated. I do know she meets a lot ofpeople at work, a lot of very attractive and exciting men." "Possible she might have confided in your former husband? Toldhim about a boyfriend, for example?" "They weren't close. What you don't understand is why he'sdoing this, what Larry is really up to. It's all to get back at me andmake everybody think he's the dutiful father instead of a drunk, acompulsive gambler who abandoned his family. Toni would neverwant to be cremated, and if the worst has happened, I'll use thefuneral home that took care of my mother, Levine and Sons." "I'm afraid until you and Mr. Darien settle your dispute aboutthe disposition of Toni's remains, the OCME can't release her,"Scarpetta said. "You can't listen to him. He left Toni when she was a baby. Whyshould anybody listen to him?" "The law requires that disputes such as yours must be resolved, if need be by the courts, before we can release the body," Scarpettasaid. "I'm sorry. I know the last thing you need right now is frustrationand more upset." "What right does he have suddenly showing up after twenty-somethingyears, making demands, wanting her personal things.Fighting with me about that in the lobby and telling that girl hewanted Toni's belongings, whatever she had on when she came in,and it might not even be her. Saying such horrid, heartless things!He was drunk and looked at a picture. And you trust that? Oh,God. What am I going to see? Just tell me so I know what toexpect." "Your daughter's cause of death is blunt-force trauma that fracturedher skull and injured her brain," Scarpetta said. "Someone hit her on the head." Her voice shook and she brokedown and cried. "She suffered a severe blow to the head. Yes." "How many? Just one?" "Mrs. Darien, I need to caution you from the start that anythingI tell you is in confidence and it's my duty to exercise caution andgood judgment in what you and I discuss right now," Scarpettasaid. "It's critical nothing is released that might actually aid yourdaughter's assailant in getting away with this very terrible crime.I hope you understand. Once the police investigation is complete,you can make an appointment with me and we'll have as detaileda discussion as you'd like." "Toni was out jogging last night in the rain on the north side ofCentral Park? In the first place, what was she doing over there? Hasanybody bothered asking that question?" "All of us are asking a lot of questions, and unfortunately havevery few answers so far," Scarpetta replied. "But as I understand it,your daughter has an apartment on the Upper East Side, on Second Avenue. That's about twenty blocks from where she was found,which isn't very far for an avid runner." "But it was in Central Park after dark. It was near Harlem afterdark. She would never go running in an area like that after dark.And she hated the rain. She hated being cold. Did someone comeup behind her? Did she struggle with him? Oh, dear God." "I'll remind you what I said about details, about the caution weneed to exercise right now," Scarpetta replied. "I can tell you thatI found no obvious signs of a struggle. It appears Toni was struckon the head, causing a large contusion, a lot of hemorrhage into herbrain, which indicates a survival time that was long enough forsignificant tissue response." "But she wouldn't have been conscious." "Her findings indicate some survival time, but no, she wouldn'thave been conscious. She may have had no awareness at all of whathappened, of the attack. We won't know until certain test resultscome back." Scarpetta opened the file and removed the health historyform, placing it in front of Mrs. Darien. "Your former husbandfilled this out. I'd appreciate it if you'd look." The paperwork shook in Mrs. Darien's hands as she scanned it. "Name, address, place of birth, parents' names. Please let meknow if we need to correct anything," Scarpetta said. "Did she havehigh blood pressure, diabetes, hypoglycemia, mental health issues--was she pregnant, for example." "He checked no to everything. What the hell does he know?" "No depression, moodiness, a change of behavior that mighthave struck you as unusual." Scarpetta was thinking about the BioGraph watch. "Did she have problems sleeping? Anything at allgoing on with her that was different from the past? You said shemight have been out of sorts of late." "Maybe a boyfriend problem or something at work, the economy being what it is. Some of the girls she works with have been laidoff," Mrs. Darien said. "She gets in moods like everybody else. Especiallythis time of year. She doesn't like winter weather." "Any medications you might be aware of?" "Just over-the-counter, as far as I know. Vitamins. She takes verygood care of herself." "I'm interested in who her internist might be, her doctor ordoctors. Mr. Darien didn't fill in that part." "He wouldn't know. He's never gotten the bills. Toni's been livingon her own since college, and I can't be sure who her doctor is.She never gets sick, has more energy than anyone I know. Alwayson the go." "Are you aware of any jewelry she might have routinely worn?Perhaps rings, a bracelet, a necklace she rarely took off?" Scarpettasaid. "I don't know." "What about a watch?" "I don't think so." "What looks like a black plastic sports watch, digital? A largeblack watch? Does that sound familiar?" Mrs. Darien shook her head. "I've seen similar watches when people are involved in studies.In your profession, I'm sure you have, too. Watches that are cardiacmonitors or worn by people who have sleep disorders, for example,"Scarpetta said. A look of hope in Mrs. Darien's eyes. "What about when you saw Toni at Thanksgiving," Scarpettasaid. "Might she have been wearing a watch like the one I just described?" "No." Mrs. Darien shook her head. "That's what I mean. Itmight not be her. I've never seen her wearing anything like that." Scarpetta asked her if she would like to see the body now, and they got up from the table and walked into an adjoining room,small and bare, just a few photographs of New York City skylineson pale- green walls. The viewing window was approximatelywaist- high, about the height of a casket on a bier, and on the otherside was a steel screen--actually, the doors of the lift that had carriedToni's body up from the morgue. "Before I open the screen, I want to explain what you're goingto see," Scarpetta said. "Would you like to sit on the sofa?" "No. No, thank you. I'll stand. I'm ready." Her eyes were wideand panicked, and she was breathing fast. "I'm going to push a button." Scarpetta indicated a panel ofthree buttons on the wall, two black, one red, old elevator buttons."And when the screen opens, the body will be right here." "Yes. I understand. I'm ready." She could barely talk, she was sofrightened, shaking as if freezing cold, breathing hard as if she'djust exerted herself. "The body is on a gurney inside the elevator, on the other sideof the window. Her head will be here, to the left. The rest of her iscovered." Scarpetta pushed the top black button, and the steel doors partedwith a loud clank. Through scratched Plexiglas Toni Darien wasshrouded in blue, her face wan, her eyes shut, her lips colorless anddry, her long, dark hair still damp from rinsing. Her mother pressedher hands against the window. Bracing herself, she began toscream. Excerpted from The Scarpetta Factor by Patricia Cornwell All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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Library Journal Review

The 17th entry in the popular Scarpetta series (after Scarpetta) finds the Massachusetts medical examiner investigating the death of jogger Toni Darien in Central Park-and finding suspicious similarities to a case of a missing financier. She also must contend with a suspicious package delivered to her apartment, the possible theft of her BlackBerry, menacing communications from a former psychiatric patient of husband Benton, and the reemergence of notorious characters from past cases. Never-before-seen glimpses into the innermost thoughts of key characters Pete Marino, Benton, and niece Lucy Farinelli intensify the plot. Verdict A finely crafted, pulse-racing thriller that readers won't want to put down. Scarpetta fans will notice more pages devoted to character development and less to the autopsy room. [Main selection of BOMC, Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, and Mystery Guild.]-Mary Todd Chesnut, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

Bestseller Cornwell's solid 17th thriller to feature Dr. Kay Scarpetta (after Scarpetta) finds Scarpetta-who's the senior forensic analyst for CNN-probing the murder of a Central Park jogger as well as looking into the disappearance of Hannah Starr, a wealthy financial planner. Quizzed on-air about previously undisclosed details of the perplexing Starr case, Scarpetta realizes that the tentacles of the case reach further than she imagined. Her niece, forensic computer whiz Lucy Farinelli, has her own reasons for digging into Starr's disappearance, along with Lucy's girlfriend, New York County ADA Jaime Berger. NYPD Det. Pete Marino, another series staple, is also in the loop as a member of Berger's task force. But it's the dark past of Scarpetta's psychologist husband, Benton Wesley-particularly his presumed death in Point of Origin and shocking reappearance five years later in Blow Fly-that binds the disparate pieces together and make this one of Cornwell's stronger recent efforts. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Once upon a time, the Kay Scarpetta novels were sharply written, character-driven crime stories. But lately, like Scarpetta herself, the series has changed. As the medical examiner has moved from Virginia to Florida to South Carolina to Massachusetts and New York, the stories have become slicker, more formulaic, less interesting. The newest Scarpetta novel, which finds Kay juggling a homicide and a missing-person case (not to mention her duties as a CNN forensic expert), is a pretty bland affair. Perhaps it's because the author has taken the character too far from her roots when the series began, Scarpetta was Virginia's chief medical examiner or maybe it's simply because Cornwell has replaced creative storytelling with assembly-line formulas. Either way, the book feels dull, lacking dramatic spark or clever plotting not bad, exactly, but thoroughly uninvolving (which is odd, considering that it explores new territory in the relationship between Kay and her once-presumed-dead husband, Benton Wesley). Crime series often grow tired after periods of sustained success, but in this case, the lead character feels every bit as tired as her series. It's not a good combination and will require the allegiance of Cornwell's devoted fans.--Pitt, David Copyright 2009 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

A Manhattan waitress's murder kicks off yet another round of forensic-driven navel gazing for Dr. Kay Scarpetta and her friends and enemies. Toni Darien's mother insists her daughter never would have gone jogging in Central Park on a rainy night. Nonetheless, Toni's corpse is found just inside 110th Street, raped, bashed to death, then strangled. Despite the best efforts of Scarpetta to keep the open case off The Crispin Report, the program she frequents as CNN's senior forensic analyst, a relentless barrage of leading questions from Carley Crispin links the case on live TV to the disappearance of sexy financial titan Hannah Starr. When a furious Scarpetta demands she be released from her TV contract, Carley's producer offers her her own show instead. But there's no time to waste on such frivolity when Hannah's client Hap Judd, actor and pervert, needs to be questioned about a case of necrophilia; his self-avowed aunt, demented Dodie Hodge, is stalking Scarpetta's husband, former FBI profiler Benton Wesley; and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Warner Agee, Wesley's old nemesis, is clearly getting inside information about the investigation and passing it on to Carley. Could all these outrages possibly be connected? Only if they're being perpetrated at the bidding of the archfiend Cornwell brings back in lieu of developing the regulars, who seem condemned to keep recycling the same dialogue in every installment, or resolving the initially promising complications of the mystery. A helpful appendix lists the seven previous novels (Scarpetta, 2008, etc.) related to this one. Readers who don't know them will be baffled; readers who do will be exasperated. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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