Patricia Cornwell drew a crowd of about 350 people tonight at the Borders in Oak Brook, IL. It may have been closer to 400, but it’s hard to tell because it was a standing room only crowd and people where tucked away around corners in various sections.
The first 100 people or so who purchased their copy of Port Mortuary at that store today received a really cool free black ballcap that has the colorful Scarpetta logo or shield on the front of it. I’m wearing mine as I type this, along with a happy grin. Gold pins with the logo were also handed out throughout the day. The crowd seemed festive as they waited patiently for Cornwell’s arrival. People came from as far away as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida.
Image from PC Facebook page
Cornwell arrived shortly after 7pm and started her talk with a request for Americans to reach out and help our veterans in need. There are more than 100,000 homeless veterans in America now, more than after/during any other war. Cornwell’s “America for Vets” campaign is collecting daily toiletry type supplies at all of her book signings during the Port Mortuary tour. The supplies collected at her book signings will be donated to homeless veterans via the Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD) which serves more than 2,000 veterans a year. For more information on America for Vets click here. There’s also information available at the two links above if you can’t make it to her book signings and would like to make a donation.
Next, Cornwell announced that she had a prize for the fan who traveled the farthest to attend the book signing and that was, of course, the lady from Florida. I didn’t catch her name, but she’s now the proud owner of this little chocolate treat that was waiting in Cornwell’s room at the Four Seasons when she checked in yesterday. Cute, isn’t it?
After that Cornwell took questions from the audience. There were some good questions and she expanded upon each answer to include insights into her take on the series, characters, her process, potential Scarpetta movies, etc. My favorite of her revelations was the result of someone asking if Scarpetta would ever forgive Marino. A few books ago in the series (Book of the Dead) Marino attacked Scarpetta in a drunken rage. Marino has been both an annoying thorn in Scarpetta’s side and a reliable crime solving partner since book one (Postmortem), and his behavior over the years had grown more obnoxious: he drank more, ate more, and became more out of control with each subsequent book. He was always a bit of a caveman. At the signing tonight Cornwell said that she knew she had to do someting about Marino. He was becoming a dinosaur, a stereotypical New York cop who says ‘yo’ all the time. She thought she either needed to kill him off or do something drastic to bring him into the twenty-first century. Hence, the attack, which ended up being a huge wake up call for Marino that started his transition into a more modern type of criminal investigator as well as a more self-aware human being. Cornwell’s discussion of why she had him do what he did really shed a lot of light on the series for me and helped me see it in a different way.
I could have listened to Cornwell take questions and talk for hours, but with that big of a crowd they had to contain the Q&A and get to the book signing so that everyone would get their books autographed. Everyone seemed to have a great time and were patient while waiting to get their books signed. The line moved quickly. I couldn’t stick around until the end, but I believe things wrapped up shortly after 9pm.
If you have the opportunity to attend one of Cornwell’s book signings for Port Mortuary, don’t let it pass. Her schedule is here. She’s always interesting and entertaining. And do me a favor and ask her if she has any plans to write another non-fiction book, because I forgot to!