UK Kirkus Review »
Best known for creating Kay Scarpetta, forensic investigator, Patricia Cornwell now tackles another aspect of police life. Meet Deputy Chief Virginia West, a woman with a lot on her plate. The department is riven with in-fighting, there's a serial killer stalking out-of-town businessmen and to crown it all, West is expected to take a rookie crime reporter out on patrol and show him around. Fast-moving and hard-hitting, this new novel shows Patricia Cornwell at her very best, vividly bringing to life the daily routine of police headquarters, the relationship between the police and the newspapers, and the desperate race to catch a serial killer before he claims another victim. A must for Cornwell's many fans.. (Kirkus UK)
US Kirkus Review » Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the most famous medical examiner in fiction (see Cause of Death, p. 715, etc.), will have to fend for herself this time, as her creator leaves her behind for a big-city cop novel set in Charlotte, North Carolina. Not that Cornwell's heroines aren't just as tough (and don't need to be) as Scarpetta. Police chief Judy Hammer's force would die for her almost to a man; even her ineffectual husband dreams of being ravished by her in full cop regalia. Deputy Chief Virginia West, Hammer's head of investigations, is married only to her job and has no energy for diplomacy when Hammer assigns her to ride with Andy Brazil, the hard-charging Charlotte Observer reporter who's earned top marks at the volunteer police academy in order to snare the police beat at his paper and make his stories more authentic. And what a story Brazil's on the trail of: the Black Widow, a killer who preys on visiting businessmen, ambushing them in their rented cars, shooting them, and spraypainting their genitals orange (you won't believe why). As if the Black Widow weren't menace enough, Brazil also has to contend with slimy TV reporter Brent Webb and with vengeful redneck Bubba Rickman, who, beaten up by Brazil while riding with West, is convinced that "it was his calling . . . to smite them in the name of America." The action boils furiously, but the hostility - between cops and crooks, cops and the press, cops and cops - is so unrelenting that eventually Cornwell's cast, divided into superhuman workaholics and lesser mortals driven by envy and lust, starts to get monotonous: You may hardly notice when Bubba and the Black Widow get their oh-so-just deserts. Cornwell brings an edgy authority, a gimlet eye for her city, and a taste for nonstop conflict to the police novel, but not the commanding focus of Wambaugh or Daley - or her own earlier forensic procedurals. (Kirkus Reviews)
Book Review: Hornet's Nest by Patricia Cornwell - Reviewed by CloggieA (11 May 2011)
I read the 3 Andy Brazil books against advice from more than one person. I wanted to see for myself if they really were that bad. I liked the Scarpetta books (although I thought that the endings of some of those books were too rushed, too contrived). The Andy Brazil books are nothing like those! Hornet's Nest is probably the best of the three, although the characters are shallow and unconvincing and the plot is weak and implausible. There is some humour and some sexual tension which is frustrating for lack of relief. 5/10. Southern Cross degenerates from this. Ms Cornwell seems to be having fun at our expense, but the result isn't really funny or vaguely satisfying. 3/10. Isle of Dogs, well, how much lower can you go? What were you thinking, Ms Cornwell? Or what drugs were you on? This book was ridiculous! I persisted to the end of these books because I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. Not sure why I bothered. Even if one reads these as tongue-in-cheek romps through the workings of a Police Dept, the final book is hugely disappointing. 1/10. Scarpetta fans who pay full price for these books will feel angry and very much cheated. Luckily I bought mine 2nd hand. Readers whose first taste of Cornwell is one of these books will never buy another. Whatever you do, don't pay full price for these books!