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5.0 out of 5 stars Isle of Dogs
I've followed Patricia Cornwell since Postmortem was published in 1990. Throughout the last decade, till she published Isle of Dogs, Patricia Cornwell, along with Robin Cook, has set the example for prospective medical thriller writers. Her prose has been clear and sharp but above all, her work is realistic. When I picked up Isle of Dogs, I was expecting something...
Published on Oct. 2 2002

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe I read the whole thing
Contrary to the comments made by the few who actually enjoyed this book, I do not condemn it because I'm an avid Cornwell fan who misses her usual style. I had only read one of her books previously and read this with an open mind. Just how open does one's mind have to be to get around talking fish and typing dogs? What was Cornwell on when she wrote this nonsense? I...
Published on July 28 2004


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe I read the whole thing, July 28 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Isle Of Dogs (Hardcover)
Contrary to the comments made by the few who actually enjoyed this book, I do not condemn it because I'm an avid Cornwell fan who misses her usual style. I had only read one of her books previously and read this with an open mind. Just how open does one's mind have to be to get around talking fish and typing dogs? What was Cornwell on when she wrote this nonsense? I plodded through in hopes it would improve, but it didn't. I was, however, curious enough about Cornwell's popularity to attempt several of her other books and thoroughly enjoyed them, apart from her tendency to keep the same crooks coming back, which makes for rather too much repetition and means you need to know that it's best to read her Scarpetta offerings chronologically.
The quality of her other books only makes this one more bewildering. Try reading something else!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Painful. A total waste of time!, May 24 2004
By A Customer
I've read all of Cornwell's books and I really got into them. "Blow Fly" is the exception. What a downer!
"Isle of Dogs" simply blows. I picked up the book a year ago and could only make it through a couple of chapters.
Being a fool for punishment, I went to the local library last week to find a book on tape and I decided to give "Isle of Dogs" another try. What a rotten book! I enjoy listening to books on tape in my truck on the way to and from work and I usually go through a book per week. I have had "Isle of Dogs" for over a week and I have not yet finished the second tape of ten. I listen for a while then I've got to try to catch the baseball game, a talk show, anything. This book SUCKS!
Why? Cornwell is trying to be funny but she's no Carl Hiaasen. It just doesn't work. If you want to read a really good, funny book get Hiaasen's "Lucky You." I was giggling like an idiot while I read it.
The reader on the tape version has an airhead voice and I grow weary of her attempts to speak like black house servants, dumb white guys, or residents of Tangier Island.
I'm tempted to try to finish it to see if it gets better, but judging from most of the reviews I would be wasting my time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderfully wacky tale!, April 23 2004
By 
H.D. Jones (Michigan, USA) - See all my reviews
And what a shame that the majority of Ms. Cornwall's "fans" have huffed themselves into such a snit because she dared to write a book different from her usual formula.
Simultaneously whimsical and dark, Isle of Dogs includes a cast of zany characters that more than once had me thinking of the crew of misfits in Cannery Row, especially once the troop of crabs made their appearance (remember the frogs in Cannery Row?). Cornwall's plot line, aided by *many* misconceptions and poorly drawn conclusions by several characters, encompasses a seeing-eye horse, scheming crabs, a cold-blooded murderess, a gay Baptist Mexican (sort of), pirates, cops, a scamming dentist, and lots of Nascar fans. This isn't a book that was meant to be taken seriously; it's simply a great romp through the inane. Those of you who didn't realize that might have taken a hint from some of the great character names, such as Windy Breeze (the airhead secretary) and the Reverend Paunchious Justice (who led the jailbreak).
I listened to the abridged audio cassette version, which is read superbly by Becky Ann Baker. She employs a wide range of accents, tones, and speaking styles for the various characters, both male and female. I even checked the box partway through the first tape to see if more than one person supplied the voices, but it appears to be all her work.
This is one of the lowest collective ratings I've ever seen on Amazon for a big-name-author book, and the travesty is that almost all of the very low ratings were bestowed to penalize this book not for what it is, but for what it isn't. It is evident, scanning the review votes, that many readers must have even stooped to voting negatively on any review that lauded the book, regardless of how well written the review was or how accurately descriptive of the book. No, Isle of Dogs isn't another formula Kay Scarpetta novel; but nowhere on the cover of the text and audio copies I saw did it claim to be such.
If you are an avid Kay Scarpetta fan who would never dream of reading any other type of book, make sure you avoid this novel. It is far too inventive for your tastes. This seems to be one of those books where there's no middle ground when it comes to opinion. The reactions of readers remind me of The Far Side cartoon-- there are those who love it, and those who don't get it.
Rave on, Trooper Truth!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Simply incredible, Feb. 1 2004
By A Customer
I have to say that this is possibly the worst book I've ever read, and I've read many books in my lifetime. What's funny (or Fonny) about that is that Patricia Cornwell is one of my favorite authors, and has probably written some of the best books I've ever read, at least of this genre. How can one writer accomplish both? I'm simply at a loss...
After I finished the book I came to this site to view the reviews...possibly I had missed something??? I couldn't believe it was that bad, but when I saw over 650 reviews and most of them agreed with me, I knew I wasn't crazy. My husband asked why I had finished the book if it was so bad and I replied "it's like a train wreck - it's awful, but you just can't look away".
I was so annoyed with the characters, the names, the language, and the fact that nobody in the entire state of Virginia could figure out that Andy was Trooper Truth - I mean, even our beloved Kay Scarpetta, who had just finished giving Andy detailed info about a case only to have that exact same info posted on his website the following day - couldn't she figure out what was going on? How hard is it to figure out who Trooper Truth is when you read in his essays that he's a state trooper and a helicopter pilot, and they keep beating it over your head that there are only 2 state trooper helicopter pilots left - and even the other pilot can't seem to noodle through that one!!!! (For those of you who are planning to read it - and I can't imagine there are many left after you read through these reviews - I'm not giving away anything here. We find out Andy is Trooper Truth in the first chapter.)
I also failed to see what was so explosive and controversial about those essays themselves. Why was everyone so glued to their computer waiting for the next day's posting? To me, it read like most other inane drivel you see on the internet, written by some bored historian with no literary talent and nothing better to do than post his ramblings in the hopes that someone someday might accidentally happen upon them in a random google search. I could go on, but why bother?
Please don't waste your money. If you're a Patricia Cornwell fan, go back and re-read some of the Scarpetta novels if it makes you feel better...I know that's what I'm going to do. I know I didn't imagine it...she really is a good writer...right?
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2.0 out of 5 stars Who Wrote This, & What Have You Done w/Patricia Cornwell??, Dec 4 2003
By 
I have always been of the opinion that, if Patricia Cornwell published a phone book, it would be an instant best-seller. However, "Isle of Dogs" fared much worse than the proverbial phone book.
Ms. Cornwell is an artful writer of the crime novel genre; her attempts at comedy in this novel fall flat (where did she get the character names??? Windi Brees, Trish Thrash, Ima Clot - uggh!). I love Dr. Scarpetta's novels but the Judy Hammer series seems to not quite get off the ground with the thrust and power that the Scarpetta novels command.
Being a voracious reader, I can zip through Patrica Cornwell's books in 2 -3 three easy sittings. It took me nearly a month to plod through "Isle of Dogs". Maybe it's because I'm a Virginian (and a Richmonder to boot!)that I have come to expect more accurate portrayals of the Commonwealth's residents. But in this particular book, I think she overstated her rendition of what a Tangierian or an African-American resident of Virginia sounds like(yes, she tries to write in the vernacular and with an accent, which never came off quite right in print).
I was happy to finish, put it down and move on to "Blowfly", calling at me invitingly from my nightstand. I just hope that, in it, Ms. Cornwell recovered from whatever was ailing her when she wrote "Isle of Dogs".
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1.0 out of 5 stars Can we go lower in stars say negative?, July 25 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Isle Of Dogs (Hardcover)
I have read the other Andy Brazil works and enjoyed them. She is usually a tight fast read keeping your interest and involving you with the characters. You care. You want to know what happens. This book was not anything like that. I personally could have cared less. It had a wandering style. The plot seemed extremely loose as if written over a long period of time without looking at the previous parts and then stuck together.
I was extremely disappointed. It was a very cluttered read. It was also very choppy. The usual ties and the need to know how everything ties in together is not there. In fact by the middle I was skipping everything to do with Andy's website and wished I could have skipped him in most of it. I really liked the character in the previous stories. I did not in this one. He seemed less than Andy and the personalization that made me care about him wasn't there. It's bad when you hope the main character gets blown away out of boredom. If I had to hand out a grade it would be REWRITE this one kid. There is a great plot in there, it just can't survive under the bad novel.
I have edited this to add my honest gut reaction into the third chapter was "Did they change or get a ghostwriter?"
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1.0 out of 5 stars mindless collection of historical trivia, July 3 2003
By A Customer
I am completely at a loss for words. It is difficult to describe the feeling I had while listening (I got this book on tape) to this book, tape after tape, waiting for the plot to develop.
There are several loosely intertwined plots, most of which could be eliminated without changing the story at all. As one reviewer pointed out, there are cognisant crabs. That's bad enough, but my real issue is with the fact that the cognisant crabs are conversing with a cognisant trout. That's just silly... everyone knows that crabs and trout speak different languages. But honestly, aside from the heros of the story, the sea creatures are the most intelligent characters in the book. In that respect, they presented a welcome reprive from the nonstop mindless drivel that comes from human characters.
I could really just go on and on. There are absolutely no redeeming qualities in this book. Don't expect a typical Cornwell book. I dare you to disregard my review and read the book anyway :).
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3.0 out of 5 stars What you have to do, March 11 2003
By 
Judi Fryer "Judi, Entertainment-glutton" (Nicholasville, KY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Isle Of Dogs (Hardcover)
is forget you are reading a Patricia Cornwell novel. If you can put that fact completely out of your head, get over your frustration, and open your mind, this becomes a fairly enjoyable, if silly, farce.
Granted, Cornwell isn't a comedy writer. Ann B. Ross and T.R. Pearson do a much, much better job at combining mystery and humor, but I found enough humor in Isle of Dogs to find myself laughing once I realized I would probably never be meeting Judy Hammer and Andy Brazil again.
In Final Precinct, I believe we were saying goodbye to Kay Scarpetta, and here I think we are laughing Andy and Judy out of our minds.
Overall, the caliber of Cornwell's novels has been degenerating. In retrospect, she at least needed a new editor long ago. Spring Hill is in Tennessee, not Kentucky. Any atlas can tell you that. Also, the life of Lucy was becoming more trying novel by novel. Asking us to believe that the FBI would accept a former alcoholic with open arms was a stretch, but then letting us watch that alcoholic openly drink (with no reference to her problem) in later novels stretched our credibility even further and was certainly compounded by Lucy's continued self-destructive nature in general. I believe her readers could remember far more about her characters and their past lives than Cornwell could. That was becoming an irritation to me. A writer owes it to the fans to be 'true' to the characters they create and in whom the fans invest. Thomas Harris surely found that out with 'Clarice Starling' in Hannibal. Cornwell's reluctance to maintain the integrity and personality of her beloved characters in the Kay Scarpetta series; along with her destruction of Hammer and Brazil in Isle of Dogs, tells me that she is tired of both series and would rather pursue 'Jack the Ripper'. Having seen Ms. Cornwell interviewed on that subject recently, I question whether her own personality isn't slipping just a little. In any event, at least with Isle of Dogs she let her characters off the hook (no pun intended) with humor and left us laughing at something meant to be funny; as opposed to the self-destruction of a fairly good author.
Just go with the flow, enjoy the laughs, and forget what you were expecting when you picked up the book and you can smile and even chuckle a few time while you say bye-bye.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Save The Trees., Feb. 26 2003
Let's get one thing straight: I truly like and admire Cornwell's Scarpetta series. Her characters are complex, the plots are complex, and the enjoyment is simple. Any flaws I come across in my own fields of expertise were always trivial and forgivable.
One day I made the mistake of picking up a book called Hornet's Nest. It was simply... awful. It seemed to be a fantasy a lonely girl had written in high school and decided to publish: A toy-boy cop wannabee, a middle-aged police chief, and a host of weak, bumbling males that resemble the Three Stooges on hormone treatment. Oh, yes, a wishy-washy husband who shoots himself in the buttocks and dies of blood poisoning. Eck, the Dr.Seuss school of character development. Oh well, I thought, give it a well deserved burial and that won't trouble us again.
Unfortunately, it has come back from the autopsy table in a book called Isle of Dogs. I admit this one isn't high schoolish... maybe college sophomoric. Either that, or Cornwell sips too many of those Scotch's she writes about. It must have seemed funnier though amber glasses. Maybe she'd been getting too bogged down in the excessive introspective angst of her recent Scarpetta novels.
Sure, the book bears many of the same hallmarks of other Cornwell novels: death and dismemberment, law enforcement, a setting in Virginia, characters at odds with each other, and the usual quota of lesbians. There, all similarity ends in comparison to her Scarpetta novels... which are unfortunately insulted by having the Isle of Dogs bozos interact with Scarpetta and her team. Frankly, if any other author had written IoD, I'd have urged Cornwell to sue them for defamation.
What's so terribly wrong? After all, doesn't it combine an aging woman's fantasy of a hard-hitting professional woman (Hammer), her toy-boy copper (Brazil), and another cast of weak and incompetent males Hammer can show up? What can be so wrong?
First, we have talking animals: dogs, fish, crabs, and a miniature horse. The talking fish... I need one of Cornwell's Scotch's just to contemplate them. Worse, the dog in question happens to be one of ugly those bug-eyed things that creepy dowagers kiss and cuddle in their lap robes. This one is particularly annoying because it reads and types at a computer. It's being held hostage under the threat of death, and halfway through the book I wanted to put it... and me... out of our misery.
Another problem is Cornwell's poor understanding of men. Her toy-boy, Andy Brazil, muses about how much he loves the bug-eyed mutt and moons over his favorite picture... the dog cross-dressed in a Little Red Riding Hood coat. What male do you know like that? What male would you WANT to know like that?
Contrast that with Cornwell's marvelous Pete Marino character in her Scarpetta series. He's three dimensional, flawed but essentially good, and I always look forward to how he deals with the world... and the world deals with him. The only character development I looked forward to in the Isle of Dog characters was dispensing with them.
Cornwell lays in a bit of political correctness about 'Native Americans', which as part American Indian I found annoying. At the same time, she exhibits a certain smugness and elitism about the poor, ignorant folk on the Dog island itself.
Still don't see a problem? How about a history lesson of coastal pirates couched in a science fantasy/fiction scenario? Like gee, we're not smart enough to understand buccaneers unless we make them Star Wars characters.
And finally, if your stomach hasn't revolted, how about endless doses of scatological and fart jokes. We're treated to noises in a restroom stall, messes both human and horsey, and ho-ho's about someone confusing 'shît' and 'shoot' in his speech. Please, let's return to blood and guts on the autopsy table.
Oh, I forgot plain bad verbiage. Here's just one example: "The lights and sirens (of a police car) reminded Hooter of a screaming, flashing Christmas tree." I was screaming myself by the time I got to that point.
It finally dawned on me that Cornwell was attempting to write a farce. Contrast that to Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. I sometimes laugh out loud. She gets it... she knows how to write humor. I realized that nearly all people think (a) they're a good lover and (b) they have a great sense of humor. Yet we all know people who fall far short in one or the other... or both.
So please, Patricia, focus your energy on your great forensic novels and ditch the Brazil/Hammer farce series. You'll save countless trees and fans.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Huh?, Feb. 24 2003
Let me start off by saying that I'm not a big Patricia Cornwell fan. I've read a few of the Kay Scarpetta novels and while they weren't exactly high art, they were at least entertaining. Then I started to read all the negative reviews of this book. I wondered for myself if it really *that bad*. So I went out and bought the book. And I'm sorry I did.
Now, I really can't blame Ms. Cornwell for wanting to write something different. She's not the first and will not be the be the last. But there is a fine line between writing something different and then writing something different and shoving it down the readers throat. Hey Patricia, one of the rules of writing is *show*, don't *tell*. We get it already, you don't have to pound it into our skulls with every paragraph!!
One of the blurbs compares this to Carl Hiaasen. I suppose Hiaasen might write something like this if he was drunk and had no talent. Maybe Hiaasen did write something like this, but was smart enough to not have it published. There are about a gazillion plots that go absolutely nowhere. I still don't understand what the Trooper Truth essays are supposed to be about or why the hell they cause such an uproar. Then we have characters with names like Trish Thrash, Unique First, Fonny Boy, and Possum. Carl Hiaasens novel may be a little on the outrageous side, but Hiaasen knows where to draw the line. Cornwell took a flying leap over it, and the results are nothing short of disasterous.
Ms. Cornwell, take a few steps back and look long and hard at what you are doing. If you keep turning out junk like this, no one will buy your books anymore. I know I'm not going to.
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Isle Of Dogs
Isle Of Dogs by Patricia Cornwell (Hardcover - Oct. 11 2001)
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