Sunday, October 19, 2008

Book Review: Blow Fly by Patricia Cornwell

I just finished reading Blow Fly by Patricia Cornwell. My sister gave it to me and told me to read it because she hated the ending. I started it, then put it down because I didn't particularly like it. Then my sister asked me about it, so I re-started it.

I hated Blow Fly. The ending was abrupt and not in the least satisfying – like Cornwell decided to continue the story in the next book. But most of all I disliked every single character in the book -- the bad guy, the bad guy's brother, the bad guy's brother's girlfriend, Kay Scarpetta, Kay's niece, Kay's partner, Kay's dead/not dead lover, the young police woman, all of them. And we tripped from one character's head to another's, with their twisted/vapid thoughts. Almost everyone, male and female, was in love with Kay. Why, I don't know.

I don’t have a rating system. If I did, I’d give Blow Fly a thumbs down or a one star or a ripped book or something along those lines. This isn’t to say everyone will hate it. Someone else probably loves it. I didn’t. Usually I only review books I like, but I decided to go to the dark side on this one.

How about you? Do you ever review books you really dislike?


  1. Oh yes. If a book rep is kind enough to send me an ARC, I feel that it's only fair to read it and give my feedback. Unfortunately, sometimes completing a book is painful (especially when I'm not getting paid to do so) and so I must warn others, even with only a whisper in cyberspace!

    So far in the handful of books I've reviewed on my new site, there's been only one I've really hated. There's another in the pipeline, though, that also will receive a negative review. Stay tuned.

  2. I will definitely tell the world what I think about a book, especially if I don't think it was worth the paper it was printed on.

    On eMuse, we review books that authors send us or request that we read and review them often. I actually had a woman who hunted me down and emailed me regularly for over a year while we were building eMuse. She had heard about us through one of our sister site's loops and wanted us to review her self-published, nonfiction book. Finally, three of our editors tossed the book between us, but none of us could stomach it. Needless to say, we turned out to be "evil and pretentious insert bad words here!"

    But honesty is so important. Even though that poor woman hates my internet soul, I do hope that my honesty in the review of her book will make her think about her writing in a new way.

    I've not read any Patricia Cornwell, and thanks to your wonderful review I won't be reading any in the near future either.

  3. If I pick up a book with the intention of reading it for pleasure -- not for review or author visit on Straight From Hel or because a sister asked me to read it -- and I don't like it, then I most likely won't review it on the blog.

    If it's been sent to me by the author or publisher, I would review it, even if my review is not glowing.

    This review was actually an exception. The book was one my sister asked me to read and I didn't intend to put the review on-site. But this one, by a best-selling author, seemed to me an anomaly. I've read some Cornwell before and liked them. This one seemed like she'd phoned it in. Plus, it seemed that I should say something about the book and my views -- and find out how other reviewers felt about how they review books.

  4. I applaud you Jenny Beans. And eMuse, as well.

    It would be difficult to accept a bad review, but everyone has to do it -- writers, actors, singers, employees, politicians, students. We all have to learn from those reviews, both good and bad, and keep plunging ahead.

    Incidentally, I love the term "internet soul." Made me smile big time.

  5. I've read several novels by bestselling authors that I put down and never picked up again, including Sue Grafton's latest book. I wonder if bestselling writers get bored with the process and no longer try to please their readers.

  6. When I review a book, I tell readers like it is - no holds barred. I refuse to recommend a book that stinks, and I feel it is my duty as a reviewer to warn people not to waste their precious time and money on something less than satisfactory.

    If I want to be credible to my readers, I must give them an honest take. I'm not the author's PR person; I'm a reviewer for readers.

    Angela Wilson

    PS - I gave up on Patricia Cornwell long ago. The Scarpetta series is long overdue for an overhaul - or a permanent vacation. (I would like to see her DIE.) That said, law enforcement folks I know LOVE her. They cannot get enough. Her technical detail is what keeps them coming back for more.

  7. I write for an equine magazine, and was once asked to review a book on beginning barrel racing. It was a bad book, badly written, full of bad advice, bad, bad, bad. I told the editor that it would not be a favorable review, and the magazine decided not to review it at all - they have a small space for book/video reviews, so they like to cover things they can recommend.

    Here's the worst part: I am now stuck with a bad book. I don't want it, I can't foist it on some unsuspecting reader, and everytime I think about tossing it in the trash, I feel guilty (Book Burner! Book Burner!) What do I do with this blight of an instruction book?

  8. Patricia Cornwall is a classic example of an author who could not get her current work published if she were just starting out and had no track record of sales. But her earlier novels were quite good, and many readers are reluctant to forget that or give up on her.

  9. Jean, I've done that too a few times. Start a book and give up on it.

    I can't speak for the best-selling authors, but sometimes it feels like they're not trying or have deadlines that require them to rush the book.

  10. I don't know, Gayle. I started to say donate it or sell to Half-Price Books, but that just keeps the book in circulation.

    Have a friend come over, take it off your shelf and not tell you how they dispose of it.

  11. I agree LJ. I read some earlier ones and liked them. But I've stopped reading her.

  12. Helen,

    Call me a weanie, but I don't publish bad reviews. If an author requests feedback and I don't like the book, I provide that information to the author.



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