Excerpt from The Last Precinct by Patricia Cornwell, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Last Precinct

by Patricia Cornwell

The Last Precinct
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2000, 432 pages
    Jul 2001, 480 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

"Tell him to take a number and wait in line." Marino sticks to his deli-line allusion.

He lights the cigarette as I open the front door, and cold air bites my face and makes my eyes water. "Did you get my crime scene case?" I ask him.

"It's in the truck." He says this like a condescending husband who has been asked to fetch his wife's pocketbook.

"Why's Righter calling?" I want to know.

"Bunch of fucking voyeurs," he mutters.

Marino's truck is on the street out front and two massive tires have chewed tracks into my snowy churned-up lawn. Buford Righter and I have worked many cases together over the years and it stings that he did not ask me directly if he could come to my house. He has not, for that matter, contacted me to see how I am and let me know he is glad I am alive.

"You ask me, people just want to see your joint," Marino says. "So they give these excuses about needing to check this and that."

Slush seeps into my shoes as I carefully make my way along the driveway.

"You got no idea how many people ask me what your house is like. You'd think you was Lady Di or something. Plus, Righter's got his nose in everything, can't stand to be left out of the loop. Biggest fucking case since Jack the Ripper. Righter's bugging the hell out of us."

Flash guns suddenly explode in bright white stutters and I almost slip. I swear out loud. Photographers have gotten past the neighborhood guard gate. Three of them hurry toward me in a blaze of flashes as I struggle with one arm to climb into the truck's high front seat.

"Hey!" Marino yells at the nearest offender, a woman. "Goddamn bitch!" He lunges, trying to block her camera, and her feet go out from under her. She sits down hard on the slick street, camera equipment thudding and scattering.

"Fuckhead!" she screams at him. "Fuckhead!"

"Get in the truck! Get in the truck!" Marino yells at me.


My heart drills my ribs.

"I'm going to sue you, motherfucker!"

More flashes and I shut my coat in the door and have to open it again and shut it again while Marino shoves my bags in back and jumps into the driver's seat, the engine turning over and rumbling like a yacht. The photographer is trying to get up, and it occurs to me I ought to make sure she isn't injured. "We should see if she's hurt," I say, staring out the side window.

"Hell no. Fuck no." The truck lurches onto the street, fishtails and accelerates.

"Who are they?" Adrenaline pumps. Blue dots float before my eyes.

"Assholes. That's who." He snatches up the hand mike. "Unit nine," he announces over the air.

"Unit nine," the dispatcher comes back.

"I don't need pictures of me, my house . . ." I raise my voice. Every cell in my body lights up to protest the unfairness of it all.

"Ten-five unit three-twenty, ask him to call me on my portable." Marino holds the mike against his mouth. Unit three-twenty gets back to him right away, the portable phone vibrating like a huge insect. Marino flips it open and talks. "Somehow the media's gotten in the neighborhood. Photographers. I'm thinking they parked somewhere in Windsor Farms, came in on foot over the fence, through that open grassy area behind the guard booth. Send units to look for any cars parked where they shouldn't be and tow 'em. They step foot on the Doc's property, arrest 'em." He ends the call, flipping the phone shut as if he is Captain Kirk and has just ordered the Enterprise to attack.

We slow down at the guard booth and Joe steps out. He is an old man who has always been proud to wear his brown Pinkerton's uniform, and he is very nice, polite and protective, but I would not want to depend on him or his colleagues for more than nuisance control. It shouldn't surprise me a bit that Chandonne got inside my neighborhood or that now the media has. Joe's slack, wrinkled face turns uneasy when he notices me sitting inside the truck.

Reprinted The Last Precinct By Patricia Cornwell By Permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, A Member Of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (C) 2000 Patricia Cornwell. All Rights Reserved. This Excerpt, Or Any Parts Thereof, May Not Be Reproduced in Any Form Without Permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hag-Seed
    by Margaret Atwood
    There's a scene in The Tempest that many critics have concluded is indicative of Shakespeare&#...
  • Book Jacket: Crossing the Horizon
    Crossing the Horizon
    by Laurie Notaro
    In Crossing the Horizon, Laurie Notaro takes us back to a time when flying was a rare and risky ...
  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.