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Best-selling crime author files libel suit against another author

By M&C News May 16, 2007, 16:16 GMT

Patricia Cornwell has filed a libel lawsuit against another author, Leslie R. Sachs, and is asking a federal judge to forbid him from posting defamatory messages about her on the Internet. She seeks financial compensation for defamatory postings on websites since Aug. 14, 2000.

In an e-mail response to Cornwell's attorneys, Sachs called the lawsuit "hilarious.” He also considers himself a “political refugee” after having moved to Europe from Virginia to escape Cornwell’s legal actions. The 2000 injunction began with Sachs’ book, The Virginia Ghost Murders, a mystery published in 1998 about a modern-day sleuth who becomes involved in solving a Civil War-era murder. He claims that Cornwell was about to publish a novel ripping off the plotline from his book, and so he therefore placed on the cover of his book: "The MUST-READ gothic mystery that preceded PATRICIA CORNWELL'S newest best-seller!"

Cornwell complained and demanded her name be removed from the book, and Sachs refused. He also published claims on two Web sites that the plot of Cornwell's 2000 book, The Last Precinct, is similar to that of his own book, and he thereby put stickers on about 350 copies of The Virginia Ghost Murders claiming that Cornwell threatened to destroy his book.

The Last Precinct involves Virginia's fictional medical examiner Kay Scarpetta being tapped to solve the violent slaying of one of America's first settlers at Jamestown in the 1600s. Cornwell denied all allegations.

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