A League of Her Own: Patricia Cornwell Mines Her Dark Side

By Miller, Mark; Ames, Katrine | Newsweek, July 22, 1996 | Go to article overview

A League of Her Own: Patricia Cornwell Mines Her Dark Side


Miller, Mark, Ames, Katrine, Newsweek


WHEN DEAD PEOPLE TALK TO PATRICIA Cornwell, she doesn't just listen, she takes notes. It's not Eleanor Roosevelt she communes with, it's anonymous stiffs, especially ones who met a particularly ghastly end. But the creator of the widly popular crime-novel series about Dr. Kay Searpetta, medical examiner, insists she's not ghoulish. "If I were just interested in dead bodies, I might have a funeral-home director as the main character. But it's the dead speaking, telling us what happened and telling us the way they lived, which usually leads up to the way they died. It's the mystery of all that." Just six years after Cornwell published her first novel, "Postmortem," communing dead has put her in the big leagues. Her new contract with Putnam--three books for a reported $24 million to $27 million--works out to about $8.5 million a year, the same salary that baseball's highest-paid player, Ken Griffey Jr., recently negotiated.

"Cause of Death," the seventh Scarpetta book, debuts at No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list next week, knocking out John Grisham's "The Runaway Jury." But success attracts scrutiny, and Comwell, who protects herself with an office staff she calls a "machine," is in the middle of a made-for-tabloid scandal. Former FBI agent Eugene Bennett alleges that in 1991 she began an affair with his wife, Marguerite, at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., where Marguerite was teaching and Cornwell was doing research. In divorce documents now under seal, but originally obtained by Washington radio station WTOP, Eugene claims he saw the two at "romantic candlelight dinners" and "hugging and kissing."

Virginia police allege that Eugene kidnapped his estranged wife's minister last month, threatening to shoot him and to blow up the church unless he called Marguerite to arrange a meeting. She showed up, cops claim, shot at Eugene and niissed. Charged with four counts of criminal behavior, Eugene is being held without bond in a county jail and undergoing psychiatric evaluation. (According to his lawyers, he thinks he has an evil alter ego, Ed, whom he locked in a garage.) Eugene declined to comment; NEWSWEEK could not locate Marguerite, and Cornwell won't talk about the case or the alleged relationship with Marguerite.

"My personal life is not anybody else's business," she said last week, sitting calmly in a Manhattan hotel suite, wearing jeans, a suede jacket, a "Cause of Death" T shirt and a cross. "I don't believe people should be defined by their sexuality," says Cornwell. "People can think what they want. There's nothing I can do." Still, "this sensational stuff," as she calls it, pales next to what she has experienced personally--or what she saw as a crime reporter for The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer and as a computer analyst in the Virginia medical examiner's office. Since she began writing best-selling crime novels, she says, "I've been stalked, blackmailed. I have a huge list of inmates who can't wait to meet me. You wouldn't believe half of the stuff I've been through. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A League of Her Own: Patricia Cornwell Mines Her Dark Side
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.