Patricia Cornwell’s Boston and Provincetown

The American crime writer has sold over 100m books. Depraved Heart, the 23rd instalment of her Kay Scarpetta series, was published by Harper Collins in October

Image: Weston Wells


First thing on Saturday my wife Staci and I will head to Logan where I’ll rent a helicopter – usually a Bell 407 because I like to have floats on the skids – and fly 20 minutes to Provincetown. I’ve had my licence for 16 years and love doing acrobatics. It’s a bit like dancing: I’ll hover and fly sideways. Staci rides in the back, looking out for humpback whales and huge leatherback turtles. We’ll swoop in over the dunes and land on the tiny airstrip. It’s very dramatic; the strip gets lost in the sand and takes a while to come into view.

I love this wonderful, natural, live-and-let-live part of the world. Eclectic people gather from all persuasions and nobody cares what you do or how you live. Isn’t that wonderful? People might say, “Hello, I like your work”, but they never pester.

We’ll stay at the Anchor Inn Beach House, a boutique little place with creaky stairs; it’s like an Agatha Christie novel. I can pop down in the morning, hair sticking up, shirt inside out, to get coffee and nobody cares. It’s charming – the kind of place you carry your own bags – with rooms overlooking the water.

We’ll just walk, chill and reflect on life. Or we’ll catch up with friends like Billie Jean King, perhaps over dinner in a cosy booth at the lovely old-brick Front Street Restaurant. I’ll have something simple like pasta bolognese or a good Caesar.


Summer is great but we also like going in the dead of winter. The freezing air blows off the water and it’s bracing and fun. We’ll walk to Lorraine’s, another low-key favourite, sit at the bar and have a couple of tequilas to warm up. One time we sat there all afternoon, just us.

We’ll fly back to Boston on Sunday morning and usually go out for another massive walk – possibly to the North End, which is like Little Italy. We’ll stop at the world-famous Mike’s Pastry. Oh my God, the peanut-butter cannolis are to die for. The best walks are after a huge snowstorm, when everyone else is indoors and you have the city to yourself.

For lunch we’ll wind up at Legal Sea Foods for amazing lobster bisque right on the water, or the Palm Restaurant for Boston’s best Bloody Marys and great Reubens in a gorgeous old building. The walls are covered in cartoons drawn by artists in the restaurant’s early years in return for a meal. I started out as a cartoonist at college and still think in cartoons; I have a very strange mind.

In the afternoon we might pop into the Harvard Fogg Gallery. I fell in love with the Fogg when I was writing my first Jack the Ripper book and donated my Sickert and Whistler collection to the gallery after it was finished. Cambridge is a great place to wander, beautiful but also atmospheric. Then we’ll hit buzzy Newbury Street, which is Boston’s Rodeo Drive. Recently, I bought some brilliant Prada high-tops with a little red stripe peeking out.

Sunday evening we’ll get a water taxi from our home in Battery Wharf to Morton’s for a fantastic steak, or we’ll stay in. I’ll make a G’Vine G&T with a squeeze of lime, fresh grapefruit and a few splashes of tonic and we’ll call for a Chinese – moo shu, hot and sour soup, veggie stuff for Staci, as she’s the healthy one, and a large order of boneless ribs for me. I’ll start pulling them out of the box and eating them before we’ve even sat down.


We’ll binge watch TV by the fire. It’s my way of turning my brain off. I love good comedy, The First Wives Club or Best in Show, but nothing bloody; it’s my dirty secret. I can’t watch shows like Grey’s Anatomy thanks to years spent in the morgue. I can’t eat rare meat any more, either. It’s an occupational hazard. Then I’ll go to bed. I don’t write after dark any longer – my head is too full of spooky thoughts – so I’ll be up early. The minute daylight hits, I’m at my desk.

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