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Cornwell Dispute Illuminates Author’s World

Author Patricia Cornwell leaves federal court in Boston, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, after she took the stand in her lawsuit against her former financial management company. Cornwell claims that the firm and a former executive cost her millions of dollars in losses or unaccounted revenue during their four-year relationship. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Author Patricia Cornwell leaves federal court in Boston, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, after she took the stand in her lawsuit against her former financial management company. Cornwell claims that the firm and a former executive cost her millions of dollars in losses or unaccounted revenue during their four-year relationship. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Boston — Crime writer Patricia Cornwell is the first to admit she is easily distracted by noise and finds it nearly impossible to write when she is interrupted.

So when renovation work at her house in Concord dragged on, Cornwell missed a book deadline for the first time in her career.

The failure to find her a suitable place to write is among the claims Cornwell makes in a lawsuit against her former financial management firm and business manager. When Cornwell took the witness stand yesterday in her lawsuit against Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP, a New York accounting and wealth management firm, and former principal Evan Snapper, she offered a glimpse into her writing process and the problems she says were caused by the firm. She said a series of apartments and other properties rented by the firm all had noise, construction or privacy issues.

She said the stress and distractions from repeatedly moving caused her to miss her deadline in 2006. The missed deadline caused her to lose one year’s income, about $15 million in non-recoverable advances and commissions, the lawsuit claims.

Cornwell, 56, also said Anchin moved her from a conservative to an aggressive investment strategy without her permission. Cornwell, known for her best-selling series of books dramatizing the life of fictional medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta, spent nearly four hours on the witness stand.

Her relationship with Anchin begain in 2004.

The lawsuit alleges negligence and breach of contract, claiming that Snapper and the firm cost Cornwell and her company millions in investment losses and unaccounted for revenues during their 4½-year relationship.

Lawyers for Anchin and Snapper deny Cornwell’s claims. They claim there is no money missing from Cornwell’s accounts and that any investment losses were caused by the financial and housing crises at the time. They also claim her net worth was diminished because of her extravagant spending habits