A serial killer is murdering visiting businessmen, and Charlotte chief of
police Judy Hammer and deputy Virginia West are under pressure. To make
things worse, West has rookie journalist Andy Brazil riding with her as a
public relations stunt. This sounds like vintage Patricia Cornwell, but
has a rather different feel to her Kay Scarpetta novels.
It lacks their narrative grip and their brooding menace: the streets of
Charlotte may be dark and dingy and crime-ridden, but they always appear
floodlit and safe to the reader, who is never left in any real tension.
The identity of the killer is revealed by an omniscient narrator simply
in passing and ends up being almost irrelevant. The attention is on
the relationship between West and Brazil, and indeed Hornet's Nest
is really more of a romance than a mystery.
The Cold Hard Fax is even more light-hearted, if not totally frivolous.
Freelance fax-cartoonist Molly Masters and her family have moved into a
new house, only to find that the previous owner keeps harassing them when
they try to dig up the garden. Then he is shot dead on the property,
the garden gets dug up rather more thoroughly than planned, killing
the children's pet pumpkin in the process, and someone starts faxing
Molly threats... It's not the way to make a good first impression on
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The Cold Hard Fax
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