Thursday, July 19, 2012

At Risk, By Patricia Cornwell (2006)

Most stories about other people are written as if they already happened, like this:

Patricia read her credit card statement again. She couldn't believe it, but the truth was undeniable. The man she loved was a con artist. She balled the statement up and threw it across the room. Then she fixed herself a drink, cried for a while, and finally called the police. They were lucky this time; he was still in town, and they quickly apprehended him. "Seducing Patricia Cornwell just to steal her credit card number, was it really worth it?" the detective asked. "No," said Mr. Satanism, and puked.
Pretty basic, right? Every once in a while though, you'll run across one that's written as if it's happening right this second, like this:

Patricia reads her credit card statement again. She can't believe it, but the truth is undeniable. The man she loves is a con artist. She balls the statement up and throws it across the room. Then she fixes herself a drink, cries for a while, and finally calls the police. They are lucky this time; he's still in town, and they quickly apprehend him. "Seducing Patricia Cornwell just to steal her credit card number, was it really worth it?" the detective asks. "No," says Mr. Satanism, and pukes.

As you can see, this is super annoying and distracting, and there's really only two reasons to do it: 1) to be pretentious, or 2) to hide the fact that you can't write for shit.

Guess which category Patricia Cornwell falls under?

The story is your basic CSI type crap about solving some old crone's murder (no, not Patricia Cornwell, some other old crone). Here's the main cop's three major personality traits:

1. He's a bully. It's okay though, because he only pushes around the sort of people that the middle-aged women who read these books would hate and/or be afraid of, like punk rock kids and foreigners.

2. He hates women. If a chick is more successful than him, he gives her a demeaning nickname. If she isn't, he totally takes advantage of her. Not sexual advantage, I'm talking like getting her to run his errands and shit.

3. He flaunts all these designer clothes and all this expensive furniture, then brags about how he got it all off eBay or at Big Lots or something. So he's materialistic and a cheapskate.

Obviously this guy is a raging piece of shit, but for some fucked-up reason the book acts like we're supposed to like him. As for the story, it's complete garbage. Most of the "action" is people sorting through file folders; the murder they're supposed to be working on barely even comes up until the very end, at which point they suddenly solve it in two seconds Encyclopedia Brown style; and, just to make things extra fucking stupid, the main cop's mom has ESP, because as we all know ESP is totally real and everybody knows somebody who has it.

The cover of my copy says that this was a "#1 New York Times Bestseller". Seriously, America, you suck.

Addendum: Astoundingly, this piece of crap was actually made into a movie. To read my review of that, check out my book Lifetime Movies... for Men, available on Amazon. It's part of the free preview, so if you're too damn cheap to download the entire book, just click on "Look Inside!" and scroll down until you come to "At Risk (2010)".


  1. She's a hack

  2. I hope her mother ESP'd her ass into the kitchen when its dinner time!