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Andy Brazil / Judy Hammer Books In Order

Publication Order of Andy Brazil/Judy Hammer Books

Hornet's Nest (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Southern Cross (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Isle of Dogs (2001) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle


Andy Brazil and Judy Hammer are the two main protagonists in a series of three books by famous crime author Patricia Cornwell. Perhaps best known for her forensic studies, Cornwell turns to a police procedural and character examination in the Andy Brazil/Judy Hammer series. Andy Brazil first appears as a fresh-faced and ambitious 22 year-old reporter for the Charlotte Observer who is assigned to write about police activity after impressing his editor with his hard work. Brazil has logged numerous hours of overtime and is allowed to tag along with Judy Hammer and some of her officers and detectives during a case. Never one to just sit back and be an observer, Andy Brazil quickly becomes immersed in the cases and in fact becomes a bit of a volunteer police officer helping to solve the crimes and nab the bad guy. Of course, Brazil’s photographic memory does not hurt and helps him become a valuable member of the team. Judy Hammer is an older Police Chief who is tasked with keeping the city of Charlotte, North Carolina safe. Professional and strong-willed, Hammer not only faces the challenges of heading up the police force but also the personal challenges of dealing with an overweight and depressed husband at home. Hammer and Brazil have an up-and-down relationship as the young go-getter sometimes rubs the older professional the wrong way, but eventually, as Andy Brazil begins to learn the rigors of police work and dealing with city politics, the two begin to find some common ground. As they bond the dynamic of the interaction between an older woman and a younger man begins to take shape and becomes an integral part of the series. As the duo investigate a rash of crime in Charlotte heartbreak, sadness, hilarity, and adventure ensue.

The first of the three novels, Hornet’s Nest, finds Andy Brazil and Judy Hammer teaming up for the first time. Along with the help of Hammer’s assistant Virginia West, the duo are drawn into a case involving a series of brutal murders of tourists, all men who have been abducted from rental cars, murdered, mutilated, and marked with orange spray paint. Much of Judy Hammer’s conflict in the opening story is dealing with the city and struggling with her relationship woes. Andy Brazil in the meantime, is a bit overeager and Virginia West has a hard time adjusting to working with someone much younger who is not a police officer. The city of Charlotte is a dangerous place, not only for tourists but also for the protagonists who seemingly find danger at every turn.

The second novel, Southern Cross, finds the trio heading off to Richmond, Virginia where they are tasked with the challenge of overhauling the city police department in an attempt to quell an uptick of gang violence that has plagued the area. A little less green than he was in the last book, Andy Brazil still has plenty of on the job learning to do as he, Judy Hammer, and Virginia West once again face challenges from the city’s politicians and local thugs. This time the team is confronted with an even bigger, and unexpected obstacle in the form of a dysfunctional police force which is resistant at best to the overtures of help from Brazil, Hammer, and West. The story is populated by a rich supporting cast of eccentric characters whose subplots carry Andy Brazil, Judy Hammer, and Virginia West into wild new directions.

Isle of Dogs, the third novel, is again set in Virginia this time with Judy Hammer established as the Superintendent of the Virginia State Police. Andy Brazil is again on hand, however now he is a state trooper himself and is viewed by Hammer as her confidant and most trusted officer. In this novel the state is torn apart when Tangier, an island in the Chesapeake Bay, decides to break away from Virginia over unjust traffic laws and declares war on the state. Hammer and Judy attempt to keep the citizens of Virginia safe from politicians and themselves in this story which takes a turn to the genre of dark comedy.

Patricia Cornwell is best known for her Kay Scarpetta series which is told in the first person and uses a lot of forensic investigation to solve crimes. Additionally, she has also written a children’s story and a book abut Jack the Ripper. Like Andy Brazil, Cornwell began her career as a reporter for the Charlotte Observer. The Andy Brazil/Judy Hammer series is a bit different from her better known work in that it is told in the third person and has more focus on characters and has more comedy weaved throughout the stories. Additionally, some of the scenes and language can be a bit more vulgar than some of Cornwell’s old readers have come to expect.

The first Judy Hammer/Andy Brazil novel, Hornet’s Nest, was adapted into a made-for-TV movie which aired on TNT in 2012 and starred Virginia Madsen, Michael Boatman, and Sherry Stringfield. The title Hornet’s Nest is a reference to the nickname Charlotte, North Carolina was given by General Cornwallis during the American Revolution. All three of the Andy Brazil/Judy Hammer books deal with the relationship between an older woman and a younger man, whether it be the relationship between Hammer and Brazil or the relationship between West and Brazil. As much as anything, the series is a character study which shows the interaction between tow or three disparate individuals thrust together by circumstance and forces beyond their control. Facing a common enemy, the characters are forced to reach a deeper understanding of each other and themselves as they look to solve the crimes plaguing their city. Changes in setting have some effect on the police officers and they face new obstacles in each book but the common thread through all of the stories is the growth of the characters. Andy Brazil is forced to grow up and see the world through others’ eyes while Judy Hammer must confront her personal demons while trying to keep major city’s safe.

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