The first in Cornwell's Judy Hammer/Andy Brazil series and a real stinker.
If it were possible to award zero star ratings, I would have given Hornet's...moreThe first in Cornwell's Judy Hammer/Andy Brazil series and a real stinker.
If it were possible to award zero star ratings, I would have given Hornet's Nest a big fat 'nul points'.
There could be no more reliable indicator of the terrible quality of the writing in this novel than the fact that the publisher's marketing department, who must have been beyond desperate trying to promote this book, only managed to unearth two complimentary quotes to print on the cover, and even they were from such august literary review publications as Elle and Cosmopolitan.(less)
Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta novels were something of a guilty pleasure for me during the '90s. Enjoyable and addictive page-turner crime thrillers w...morePatricia Cornwell's Scarpetta novels were something of a guilty pleasure for me during the '90s. Enjoyable and addictive page-turner crime thrillers with a generous helping of pathology and forensic science detail, which appealed to my otherwise dormant inner science geek.
But by this stage in the series - Cause of Death is the 7th Kay Scarpetta novel - Cornwell had well and truly lost the plot, both figuratively and literally.
At her best, Cornwell had always written rather plodding, uninventive prose, but as the series progressed any pretence at literary merit flew out of the window along with her dictionary. And the plots managed the seemingly impossible feat of becoming both formulaic and at the same time ludicrously outlandish and unbelievable.
While it might be true that writing series genre fiction is by its nature inherently formulaic, I'm not sure the formula should be quite so transparent and simplistic as it is here and in the subsequent Scarpetta novels.
Paul Sheldon's "No. 1 fan", Annie Wilkes, might have kidnapped the author in Misery in order to ensure that he didn't kill off his heroine, Misery Chastain, and thus end the series, but I'd be willing to bet that even the most ardent of Cornwell's fans would be more inclined to hold her hostage in order to prevent her from churning out any more of this bilge.
If you're new to reading Cornwell my advice would be to start with her first novel, Postmortem, read the series in chronological order and stop while the going is still reasonably good. And whatever you do, don't touch the Judy Hammer/Andy Brazil books (Hornet's Nest, Southern Cross etc.) with a ten foot barge pole.
Unfortunately for me, a fondness for Scarpetta's unfeasibly sexy FBI/ATF agent lesbian niece, Lucy Farinelli, has kept me plodding doggedly through the novels well after their prime. But now, thanks to a timely intervention in the form of Lucy's rather out of character sexual preference U-turn, even I've been freed from my addiction to this tosh.(less)