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In their first appearance (Hornet's Nest, 1997), Chief Judy Hammer, Deputy Virginia West, and reporter-turned-rookie-cop Andy Brazil battled a serial killer in Charlotte, North Carolina. Now, in Patricia Cornwell's Southern Cross, the trio are dispatched to Richmond, Virginia--via an NIJ (National Institute of Justice) grant--to quell the growing gang problem and modernize the beleaguered Richmond PD. They bring with them a sophisticated computer program for tracking criminal activity and a tried-and-true methodology for reforming Richmond's men and women in blue. Unfortunately, Hammer, Brazil, and West could not have been prepared for the resentment they would confront... or the bizarre cast of characters they would find upon their arrival: Lelia Ehrhart--wealthy (and nosey) chair of the Blue Ribbon Crime Commission--whose heavy European accent renders her English dangerously hilarious; Butner "Bubba" Flunk IV--tobacco industry worker, gun collector, and UFO aficionado; Smoke--the sociopathic leader of the Pikes gang; and Weed Gardener--14-year-old painter turned master graffiti artist.
Unlike Cornwell's usual fare, Southern Cross is driven almost exclusively by an interest in these strange personalities and their surreal hometown, rather than in fast-paced thrills. The novel becomes a satire on city politics, Southern culture, the ever-tense relationship between the police and the public, and the struggles of the average man and woman with computer technology. Cornwell does fall down in a few places. First, her description of the computer virus that somehow infects police department Web sites from Richmond to New York seems a bit far-fetched. Also, her narrative, divided among three major characters, loses its focus and sags at several points. In the end, though, Southern Cross is redeemed by Cornwell's inimitable renderings of police work and the quotidian life of Richmond's many odd denizens. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
It's fortunate that Cornwell has a new Kay Scarpetta thriller (Black Notice) coming out in July, because this second novel featuring southern police chief Judy Hammer is as disappointing as last year's Hornet's Nest. The problem is elementary. Cornwell, who writes the Scarpetta novels in a first-person voice that blazes with passion and authenticity, lacks control over the third-person narration here. The tone is all over the place, veering from faux-Wambaugh low-jinks to hard-edged suspense, and the plotting is, too. Hammer and her team of deputy chief Virginia West and greenhorn cop Andy Brazil have moved via a federal grant to Richmond, Va., in order to set straight that city's policing. If only they could bring order to the narrative, which twists into an unwieldy welter of subplots. Early on, for instance, Hammer and West misconstrue as malevolent an overheard phone conversation between a local redneck, Butner (Bubba) Fluck IV, and a coon-hunting pal. From there Cornwell spins seriocomic descriptions of Bubba at work, Bubba on a hunting trip, Bubba arguing with a black cop. Among these events and those of other subplots (stymied love between West and Brazil; sabotage of the cops' Web site; the jailing of a police dispatcher; etc.) runs a more dominant plotline?the only one in the novel that exerts dramatic force?about a talented boy artist strong-armed into a gang by a sociopathic teen. There's a lot of broad, often slapstick, social commentary (mostly about class warfare) larded into all the goings-on. If Cornwell's intention is to reproduce with a snicker the chaos of a big southern city, she has succeeded all too well. 1 million first printing; Literary Guild, Mystery Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selections; foreign rights sold in France, Germany, the U.K., Italy and Norway. (Jan. 11). FYI: In May, Putnam will publish Cornwell's first children's book, Life's Little Fable.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This one misses the mark for me. Try another like the Body Farm to enjoy this talented writer. From Potter's Field was also a good read.Published on March 29 2004 by Patty Philbrook
Southern Cross is too ridiculous to be a detective novel, to violent to be a comic novel. This is my first venture into Cornwell. Read morePublished on April 15 2003
YUK. Will never read another by this author. Took it back to the store and was told alot of people did the same.Published on Jan. 6 2003
Despite all the negative reviews, I recommend this book. I felt for Weed and hated Smoke, as anybody who has ever been bullied hates bullies. Read morePublished on Sept. 3 2002 by Dennis E. Cochran
This book struck me as a failed attempt by Patricia Cornwell to publicly flex her literary muscles. Read more
This is my first (and last ) Patricia Cornwell read. A trio of policemen and women try to clean up a Southern town populated by psycopaths and rednecks. Read morePublished on June 11 2002 by Beverley Strong
The story about how a female Chief of Police in Richmond deals with a new crime epidemic was very gripping. The humor was well-timed and appropriate and the concept was timely. Read morePublished on June 10 2002 by Amazon Customer
This is a poor book. Cornwell has no understanding of Policemen, the south or COMSTAT as used in New York City. The effort at comic relief is silly and not funny in the least. Read morePublished on March 3 2002 by c b scott