Review

Southern Cross (Andy Brazil)

by Patricia Cornwell



Richmond, VA, an elegant city steeped in rich Southern tradition,
is the setting where Patricia Cornwell plants her witty characters
in SOUTHERN CROSS. Cornwell uses her most colorful palette of words
to tell the story that places her malfunctioning people in
history's glorious sites with Richmond's antiquities speaking for
the author as background characters in this, her latest
novel.

Police Chief Judy Hammer leads the cast that brings life to the
former Confederate Capital. Widowed less than a year, Hammer
resigns as Police Chief in Charlotte and accepts a new professional
challenge in Richmond. Together with Deputy Chief Virginia West and
Officer Andy Brazil, Hammer tackles a one-year challenge to "clean
house" in the Richmond Police Department while city patriarchs
blatantly resent them.

Their biggest job, at first, is to eliminate glitches in the new
computer system known as COMSTAT. A "fish" virus threatens to crash
the entire system, and Brazil, the computer whiz kid, is unable to
erase it. Cornwell presents a steamy personal relationship between
Brazil and West with tongue firmly planted in cheek. By the end of
the story, the reader applauds their romantic revival.

Spectacular southern personalities make up the fabric of the
interwoven story lines. Cornwell introduces us to the likes of
Bubba, Weed, Smoke, Divinity and Smudge. Bubba, a fiercely loyal
longtime employee of the Philip Morris Tobacco Company, interfaces
with Smudge Bruffy in a cellular telephone call that bleeds into
the circuits of Hammer and West. The broken words of this overheard
conversation establish a probable murder to be committed.

Multiple points of view add change of pace to the narrative. The
action moves from police stations to cemeteries and from school
gymnasiums to city streets with ease. A defaced public statue of
venerated Jefferson Davis, with credit taken by the Pike gang,
drives the tension to a climax. An atypical police story, SOUTHERN
CROSS is full of the elements that invite its readers to visit and
fall in love with its central city. The story's strengths are its
elaborate paintings of righteous indignity, pompous historical
pride, professional jealousy and nonstop conflict.

Like her previous Scarpetti novels, Cornwell's rich
characterizations and ingenious use of setting and plot line can
make a believer of a doubter. I felt deep empathy for the young
artist, Weed, and silently applauded when the police did the right
thing for him. SOUTHERN CROSS made a Patricia Cornwell fan of
me.

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 23, 2011

Southern Cross (Andy Brazil)
by Patricia Cornwell

  • Publication Date: December 1, 1999
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 0425172546
  • ISBN-13: 9780425172544