on July 28, 2004
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!
on May 24, 2004
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.
on February 1, 2004
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?
on July 25, 2003
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?"
on July 3, 2003
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 :).
on February 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 'shÃ®t' 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.
on February 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.
on February 23, 2003
I hadn't been to the library in about 2 years, was way out of touch w/all my favorite authors. We just soooo glad when I got in there & found a patricia cornwell book waiting for me! Got home, started reading it & was really confused. Where was Kay? Why did all these characters have all these stupid names? Where was it all leading? Unfortnately, I let myself read until the last 25-50 pages before I just didn't care anymore. A Governors seretary who is trying to find thrown away fish as witnesses, crabs that can plot.,,,,,,,Ms. cornwell, what where you thinking? I believe the only reason this book was published is because of your name......& you should be ashamed for trying to dupe us all this way. This is a really stupid book. Im sorry you lead me to waste my time on this. I guess I'll have to think twice before I pull your next book of the library shelf w/o even reading the intro - like I always used to pull the book off the shelf just by reading that you were the author! Gonna think twice!
on January 29, 2003
This is really bad. Really bad. Bad, bad novel. I gave it one star because there aren't any negative stars in the reviewers' pull-down menu. Thank goodness I got it for 20 cents as a book-club enrollment offer. But I wish I'd selected the tote bag instead.
This book establishes that Cornwell will have to write off any thought of ever using Judy Hammer and Andy Brazil as serious characters again. They deserved better, despite being weak creations to begin with. They could have developed into an ordinary, somewhat likeable crew for a police-procedural series. Instead, they're well on their way to becoming shallow and ludicrous cardboard cutouts.
Poor Andy, who began life as a somewhat competent journalist, becomes a masked-crusader Web author -- Trooper Truth -- with a badly-conceived public-service mission. Chapters of the novel are interspersed with truly dreadful Trooper Truth columns, rambling, badly-written, poorly-researched, lurid, condescending pieces indeed. If my eighth-grade grandson ever wrote a history paper as truly stupid as Trooper Truth's lesson on mummies, I'd have him in summer school until he turned 35. Judy Hammer also fares badly, and a particularly labored subplot about her kidnapped dog makes her silly rather than sympathetic.
Obviously, the author has no understanding of the culture of Tangier Island -- having used it as a contagion site in an earlier Scarpetta novel, she should have left it alone thereafter. Instead, she recycles her left-over notes on the location and performs an all-out and somewhat ugly lampoon this time out. And she doesn't do the Commonwealth of Virginia any great service, either, creating a dotty, half-blind governor who is so one-dimensionally absurd that he fails as a caracature and seems to exist solely as a vehicle for potty jokes. Even Mr. Magoo was loveable. Hiassen's Skink is a classic example of the Wise Fool. Governor Crimm is a whining oaf and his family and advisors are weak adolescent humor at its tasteless nadir -- not even good satire.
If Cornwell is trying to duplicate Carl Hiaasen's deft satirical scalpel, she'd be better off abandoning the attempt; the reader can balance Hiaasen's concern for the fragile Florida environment against his dislike for the developers and tourists who exploit it. Cornwell apparently neither loves Virginia nor its law-enforcement workers and is determined to milk everything in sight for cheap laughs. There's no cerebral humor here -- just school-yard slapstick that's far too fragile to sustain a full-length novel.
It's bad enough that each successive Kay Scarpetta novel becomes more issue-driven, losing ground to the vastly better-delivered work of Kathy Reichs. Isle of Dogs gives every indication of having been tossed off as an easy way to finance Cornwell's rather peculiar and self-congratulatory Jack the Ripper research trip. It's a shame when authors start believing their own reviews and decide that their fans will, sheeplike, cherish everything that falls from their word processors. One has to wonder what Cornwell's editor was thinking of; usually, edotors try to make their best-selling authors look good even in their weaker moments. Is it possible that we have a case of an imperious, arrogant author who has cheesed off her publishers enough that they're letting her readers see what she's really like?
No, next time, definitely the tote bag.
on December 9, 2002
When "Southern Cross" was published it was so ghastly I swore I'd never shell out the cash for another Cornwell novel again, and would patiently wait my turn on the library list instead.
The only reason I forced myself to finish "Isle of Dogs" was because I'd received a hardcover copy as a gift and felt obligated to the well-meaning person who gave it to me.
I won't rehash the *ahem* plot here, but I do feel compelled to note that, if Ms. Cornwell did, indeed, author the Scarpetta books, then who the hell wrote "Southern Cross" and "Isle of Dogs"? Surely there isn't really anyone out there - that's read all her novels - that thinks the same person wrote the Scarpetta tales AND those two criminal wastes of trees!
I'm unsure who's at fault here for this insulting deception: Cornwell or her publishing company. Of what I'm NOT unsure, however, is that I don't like being made a fool (especially when money's involved).
It's highly unlikely I'll be doing any more searches to find out if Patricia Cornwell has a new book coming out. A shame, really.