JULY 17

I don’t care much about Patricia Cornwell’s new novel, Cause of Death. It’s pretty much crime-and-mystery boilerplate: a steely, smart protagonist, a fast-paced plot, a satisfying resolution. Like most slobbering, celebrity-obsessed devotees of A Current Affair, however, I care deeply about the scandal now swirling around Cornwell. In case you haven’t heard, let me repeat the salacious details, which are unconfirmed and probably painful for the author: Last month, according to press accounts, a berserk former FBI agent abducted his wife’s minister, tied explosives to him, and threatened to detonate the poor man in an attempt to lure his estranged spouse to a meeting. His wife, he has said repeatedly in divorce papers, has been having a longtime lesbian relationship with Cornwell. Well, his wife—herself a police lieutenant and former FBI hostage negotiator—fired a gunshot that scared him off and saved the minister. Now he’s being held and police are investigating whether he also placed a bomb at his wife’s workplace. Deliciously, Cornwell has kept silent, fueling the vast rumor factory that’s now the backbone of the media industry. She makes her first local public appearance since the events today. Borders’ “community relations” department says extra security will be on hand—probably to keep vicious tabloid reporters at bay. At 7:30 p.m. at Borders, 11301 Rockville Pike, Rockville. FREE. (301) 816-1067. (John Cloud)