Now a Director of the National Forensic Academy, Dr. Kay Scarpetta is able to use her formidable skills on myriad investigations. But someone is aware of her every move, manipulating her towards a situation where she would become the prey.
Florida is full of human predators, and they all give Dr Kay Scarpetta the opportunity and the means to do what she does best - persuading the dead to speak to her. And in Boston, Benton Wesley is working on a secret case involving convicted killers. It is a project which gives Scarpetta deep disquiet, as does the behaviour of her niece, Lucy, who is spending too much time in cheap bars looking for casual pick-ups. The Academy is called when a woman's body is found in Boston. She has been tortured, sexually abused, her body tattooed with handprints. The same sort of handprints Lucy had seen on the flesh of her latest pick-up.
Meanwhile, Scarpetta and Marino are investigating the disappearance of a family in Florida, called in by a concerned neighbour, but as they search and find the tell-tale signs of abduction rather than disappearance, they also discover that someone had assumed the identity of the caller, and she is now dead. They've been set up, and it becomes clear that someone is tracking their every move.
This report prepared by Shanna Christiansen
In Predator Patricia Cornwell has returned to the form which made her earlier novels about forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta so successful. The plot is tight with sufficient threads to keep the reader guessing until the end. Her recurring characters remain true to their personas while allowing a little mellowing. Paranoia still reigns in the lives of all the primary characters, Kay Scarpetta, her niece Lucy, Scarpetta's long time love interest Benton Wesley, and her chief investigator and former cop Pete Marino.
Benton is in Massachusetts doing research on serial killers, trying to determine if there are physical elements to their criminal behavior that is measurable by brain activity. The study has been named PREDATOR. Scarpetta is in Hollywood, Florida working for Lucy's National Forensic Academy. Lucy is in Provincetown investigating the death of a neurosurgeon and allows herself to be picked up in a bar by a woman who has red handprints painted on her breasts and thighs.
One of Benton's subjects, convicted serial killer Basil Jenrette, tries to impress the stoic psychologist by telling him of the murder he committed years ago of a woman in a Christmas shop in Florida, a murder unknown to the authorities. Did it really happen or is his subject simply toying with him? Benton is then called away from his research to view the autopsy of a woman found near Walden Pond who has been murdered with a shotgun blast to the head and has red handprints in suggestive places on her body. A piece of evidence from this murder is matched to an old case in Florida and a gun now in the possession of the National Forensic Academy.
Pete Marino gets a late night phone call from someone calling himself Hog, quoting scripture, referring to the dead neurosurgeon, a family in Hollywood, Florida that has gone missing, and Scarpetta and Lucy. An intern at the National Forensic Academy has gotten Lucy's password to her security system and is wreaking havoc and creating an environment of distrust between Scarpetta, Marino, and Lucy. Lucy has a secret of her own. Marino's television psychiatrist is obsessed with Scarpetta and Benton, eliciting information about them from Marino during their counseling sessions.
Scarpetta and Marino investigate the disappearance of the missing family. Information is being leaked about this case and others. Someone seems to know their every move. The killer seems to move among them with equanimity and cunning. Are the crimes of the dead woman in Massachusetts and the missing family in Florida related? Is there a link with a missing woman and her daughter from the Christmas Shop years ago? Are they dead or did they simply run off?
A concerned neighbor of the missing family in Hollywood calls to complain that nothing is being done. Marino arrives on her doorstep to find her dead of a shotgun blast to the head and to the realization that this half blind senile old lady, a Polish immigrant who would have had a heavy accent, couldn't possibly be the person who called. A citrus inspector has been seen across the canal in the victim's backyard by Scarpetta at the time the old woman was probably killed. As the body count begins to mount, so does the number of possible murderers.
This report prepared by danzel
Pete Marino receives a phone call from someone calling himself, "Hog," who makes references to the unsolved death of a doctor and threats toward Kay's niece, Lucy.
Benton Wesley is analyzing a convicted, compulsive-killer who is a new patient in the psychiatric P.R.E.D.A.T.O.R. Program. The inmate mentions a south Florida woman killed 2 1/2 years ago in a Christmas store. Lucy begins to delve into the case and learns that a mother and daughter disappeared without a trace. Within the present-day business, a backroom reveals traces of blood.
Another Florida family, two sisters and two boys, disappear and a concerned neighbor calls Kay because her reports to the police seem to be ignored. Before Kay and Pete can talk to her in person, she is killed in her home!
When Kay Scarpetta, Benton, Pete, and Lucy piece together the common thread, they find the killer!
This report prepared by Marianna