Patricia Cornwell visits the scene of her crime writing Tuesday for $30,000 gift
Crime novelist Patricia Cornwell — whose latest novel, “The Bone Bed,” is set in Cambridge — is visiting the Cambridge Police Department at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, said Dan Riviello, director of communications and media relations for the department.
Cornwell, known for her Scarpetta crime novels, has donated $30,000 in crime scene management training to the Cambridge, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Everett police departments, Riviello said. The training is being held all this week at the Cambridge Police Department with instructors from the National Forensic Academy in Knoxville, Tenn.
“As a token of our appreciation, Commissioner Robert C. Haas will be thanking Ms. Cornwell and presenting her with a gift during part of the training session tomorrow morning,” Riviello said in a Monday press release. Haas, Cornwell and instructors from the academy are to speak.
Cornwell also endowed a $1 million conservation scientist position at the Harvard Art Museum’s Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies in 2008.
She said via Twitter that she is “looking forward to spending time with the Cambridge Police — the home force of Scarpetta in ‘The Bone Bed’!”
In “The Bone Bed,” Cornwell’s hero, Kay Scarpetta, is director of the Cambridge Forensics Center. “She opens what looks like a video clip of a boat ride and at first she thinks someone has accidentally mailed her vacation footage. Then, as she’s watching this very strange scene of this jet boat, it stops and it dissolves into an image of horror. It’s something gory and disgusting and she realizes right away that something very bad is going on. This connects with a dinosaur dig thousands of miles Northwest in Alberta, Canada,” Cornwell told CBS News in a radio interview when the book was released last month.
We’re going to find out that what went on in that part of the world connects with something in Scarpetta’s own backyard. She literally, within pages of the opening of the book, is going to find herself on a Coast Guard boat heading out into the Boston harbor where a body has [been] diabolically tethered under the water and has gotten entangled with a massive sea creature and she has to go into the water and deal with this scene and recover the body. And also recover evidence from what’s called the carapace, which is basically the leathery skin of this leatherback turtle. So she’s making friends with a 2,000-pound turtle on the back of a fire boat, so it’s really, I think people are going to have fun with this.
Cornwell, who is working on a Scarpetta movie, is not the first author to use Cambridge as the recent setting for a thriller. In 2009, New Hampshire writer Lisa Gardner embedded herself at Cambridge Health Alliance’s Child Assessment Unit, which served as the writer’s model for a pediatric psychiatry unit in her 2010 novel “Live to Tell.”