Summary of Patricia Cornwell's "Predator"

by Alexis Rohlin

"Predator" is a mystery book that will keep you reading from start to finish.

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"Predator" is the 14th book in bestselling author Patricia Cornwell's "Dr. Kay Scarpetta" series. The title refers to the name of a neuropsychological science project -- "Predator" is an acronym for "Prefrontal Determinants of Aggressive-Type Overt Responsivity." In the story, Kay finds herself rushing to solve a mystery that takes her from Boston to Florida in a dangerous chase after a serial killer.

Dr. Kay Scarpetta

Kay is the head of the National Forensic Academy in Hollywood, Florida. Her lover, Benton Wesley, is running a study called "PREDATOR," a secret neuropsychological project examining the brains of murderers, at the McLean Hospital in Boston. The aim of the project is to determine whether killers have different brain patterns than other people by conducting brain-mapping MRIs.


The novel starts with Kay spending a romantic week with Benton in snowed-in Boston during a winter holiday. Her vacation is cut short, and Kay soon finds herself embroiled in a murder case when she receives a phone call that leads her on a crazy chase to solve the murder of Johnny Swift, a San Francisco neurosurgeon that was killed in his home in Miami, Florida.


Ladykiller Basil Jenrette is a subject of the Predator study. He feels no remorse for killing, and it seems that he will most likely do it again. For some reason, he decides to suddenly admit to committing a murder that was never reported to the police. The psychopathic murderer speaks to Kay about the Johnny Swift case and teases her with information that may or may not be true.

Johnny Swift Case

Johnny's twin brother finds him dead, shot in the chest on his couch at his Miami home. While it initially seems that he committed suicide, it begins to look like he was actually murdered. Kay's niece, Lucy Frinelli, attempts to trace Johnny's actions during the days leading up to his death. With Benton being followed, Kay needs to uncover the secrets of the past and the true reason behind Johnny's death before the cunning killer strikes again.

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