Hornet’s Nest by Patricia Cornwell

a hornet substitutes for the apostrophen in hornet's nestPatricia Cornwell’s Hornet’s Nest is a police procedural that turns that mystery novel sub-class upside down and inside out.

Cornwell sets the story in “the hornet’s nest of America,” Charlotte, NC, where the two top cops are women. Chief Judy Hammer is cool, collected, 50-ish professional who job of running the department includes being its public face.

Chief Deputy Virginia West, 42, is less cool and collected but no less sexy or less committed to her job.

Hammer has gotten permission from the city to allow Andy Brazil, the new police reporter for the Charlotte Observer, to ride along on police calls. Hammer orders West to take Brazil with her and to make sure he gets to see action. There is plenty of action, including what appears to be a series of brutal murders of businessmen in town for short stays.

Cornwell has plotted her story so readers have all the clues they need to be prepared for every surprise she throws in. She keeps her focus on personalities and their reactions, which reminded me of cops I saw when I worked a newspaper police beat.  Parts of the story are laugh-out-loud funny, others tragic.

Hornet’s Nest feels true.

Hornet’s Nest by Patricia CornwEll
G. P. Putnam. ©1996. 377 p.
1997 bestseller #10; my grade: A

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni