My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have been a John Sandford fan, particularly of Luke Davenport and Virgil Flowers (aka F***** Flowers) since he started writing. No surprise I grabbed Escape Clause (G.P. Putnam and Sons 2016) from NetGalley when it showed up in my queue. In this story, Virgil tries to find and retrieve two rare Amur tigers stolen from the local zoo. He quickly follows the trail to thieves planning to sell the big cats’ parts for Chinese medicinal reasons. When people start getting murdered, it gets a lot more complicated.
John Sandford’s writing style is down-to-early, easy-to-follow, and always with a touch of humor to make readers feel like things will work out.
“There’s one really good thing about this whole situation.” “What’s that?” “I got a total lock on ‘Officer of the Month.'”
“…the river air cool and redolent with the odors of beached fish and automobile exhaust. The Sheetrocking Yoder borothers, … known to their frinds as the Yos, were expecting some serious channel-catfish action; they’d be fishing right up to daybreak, barring thunderstorms and zombie outbreaks. The Yos stopped at an all-night convenience store for a six-pack of Miller Lite, a tin of Copenhagen Wintergreen… and a couple of Fudgsicles before heading down to the water.”
“…had his own homemade formula, concocted of chopped chicken liver, diced night crawlers, nacho cheese, canned corn, and cornmeal, thoroughly mixed in his girlfriend’s Waring blender when she wasn’t around…”
Who doesn’t chuckle as he reads these?
As fictional characters go, Virgil Flowers is among the Top Ten Characters You’d Like to Have a Beer With. He’s honest, independent, hard on the outside and soft on the inside. He’s a preacher’s son who’s devoutly law and order, whose girlfriend is always barely on the right side of the law. And he loves dogs. Do you see what I mean–I love this guy. Deep down, as we read, we believe that Virgil is just like we are, but with a permit to carry:
“Virgil [resisted] the temptation to wave away the secondhand smoke.”
He calls his girlfriend when he’s going to be late. He even bought a new bed and wondered if it would make their relationship too serious.
One more interesting characteristic of Sandford’s books: He always blends the main characters from his other series into whatever the current tale is, to remind readers that they are all part of a larger ecosystem. For example in this book, Davenport (from the best-selling Luke Davenport series) makes several cameos, always in character, reminding us why we like that guy so much.
Yes. I’ll be reading every book John Sandford will write. Ever.
More murder/mystery novels:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.