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Patricia Cornwell: Author and Philanthropist

Fan favorite, author Patricia Cornwell, is busy at work promoting her latest novel in the Kay Scarpetta series Red Mist. The 19th installment has the formidable medical examiner traveling to a remote women’s prison in Georgia to meet with an inmate who might have knowledge of the brutal murder of Jack Fielding, Scarpetta’s former deputy chief. While investigating Fielding’s death, the Dr. uncovers links to other murders committed across the country, as well as a potential international terrorist threat.

Besides unravelling a murder mystery, Red Mist, addresses the larger issues of death penalty ethics and the prison system. In a phone interview with The Oregonian, Cornwell spoke about working to keep the 22 year-old series interesting to herself and her readers. “It’s not a job,” she says, “it’s like a relationship that I treat with sensitivity and selflessness and that needs to be nurtured.”

The novelist also took time to talk about the philanthropic work she does outside of her writing, which includes establishing several forensic science programs, funding college scholarships, advocating literacy and promoting animal rescue. Her most recent endeavors have been creating new training programs for law enforcement and founding new psychiatric research programs through the medical examiner offices in New York and Maryland.

“I want to give back to the people who do the real work,” Cornwell explains. Her need to give is spurred by memories of watching her mother struggle to support the family as a child. “I know what it’s like not to able to afford things – whether it’s clothes or a college education. So having sold over 100 million books, if I don’t give something back, it’s criminal – because I know better.”

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