The Hornets’ Nest by Patricia Cornwell
Plot: It's a city of ambition and pride, a city long ago dubbed "the hornet's nest of America." A swarming symbol dominates the badge of the police department that protects it—the image of a darting, restless fighter: the whirling dervish of a hornet. Like the violence that swirls around Charlotte during a long, hot summer, the hornet traces a dark, anfry path, touching down unexpectedly, bringing stings of surprise wherever it lands.
Patricia Cornwell's brilliant new novel carries its own surprises. The creator of Kay Scarpetta, the most fascinating character in contemporary crime fiction, now cunningly reveals the heart and soul of a metropolitan police department. With Charlotte as her simmering background, she propels us into the core of the force through the lives of a dynamic trio of heroes: Andy Brazil, an ambitious young reporter forThe Charlotte Observer and an eager—sometimes too eager—volunteer cop; Police Chief Judy Hammer, the professionally strong yet personally troubled guardian of Charlotte's law and order; and her deputy chief, Virginia West, a genuine head-turner who is married to her job. To walk the beat with Hammer, West, and Brazil is to learn the inner secrets of police work—the tension and the tedium, the hilarity and the heartbreak, the unexpected pump of adrenaline and the rush of courage that can lead to heroics... or death.
Like no one else before, Patricia Cornwell strips away the façade of the badge to lay bare the lives and motives of ordinary mortals in extraordinary circumstances. Hornet's Nest is as real as tonight's police blotter and as page-turner as Cornwell can be.
Characters: Virginia West
I love a good crime drama, and Patricia Cornwell just never disappoints. I’ve read most of her Scarpetta books and had this one lying about. The Hornets’ Nest isn’t part of that series, so I’ve been leaving it on the shelf the whole time. Very glad I finally picked it up.
The story is basically about the 3 main characters in the book, namely Virginia West, the tough Deputy Chief of the Police force, Andy Brazil, the young and talented reporter who also happens to volunteer for the police force, and Judy Hammer, the beautiful yet Steel Magnolia type Chief of Police.
Andy Brazil is a reporter for the local paper, but he is also a police volunteer, who gets teamed up with West to get some stories first hand. The two of them have a strange relationship, I don’t know if one can really call it a brother sister relationship or what. Anyway, so Andy gets to drive along with West, who is not impressed by this as she’s a deputy and no longer does street patrols.
West is a tough as nails deputy who admires her chief of police, not because she’s also a woman, but because she’s tough too, she gets what she wants and knows how to do it. West is single, living alone with her neurotic cat Niles. She doesn’t let anyone get too close to her, but Andy is something else, he seems to get under her skin, even when she tries really hard to keep him out.
A relationship of sort’s forms between them and West finds out that Andy still lives with his mother, who happens to be an alcoholic. He is also being harassed by a women phoning him and leaving steamy messages on his phone. The two of them are together when West gets a call about a murderer that has struck again, leaving an obscene orange “hour glass” figure on the genitals of his victims, who all happen to be middle aged men. Andy digs right in on writing the story, promising West that he would only release such stories on the following day, but then for some reason the stories always get out before this. This is where they uncover that there is an informant in the police leaking things to the press.
To me there wasn’t really a true story line to the book; it was more of a “get-to-know-the-characters” kind of book. You get to see what kind of person Andy Brazil is, caring for his mother, but knowing that he needs to get out before she ruins him. West, the tough deputy with a soft side when it comes to her cat Niles and it seems when it comes to Andy, and then Chief Hammer, who seems to have everything under control, yet no one knows what her life is like when she goes home to her obese husband whom she doesn’t love anymore. Tragedy strikes and you get to see how wrong she really was.
All in all a great book, I really enjoyed it as a stepping stone into the series, I feel that I really know these characters now so the rest of the series should be a fun read.