Mad River by John Sandford Published by Putnam, 2012 ISBN: 978-0-399-15770-7 Virgil Flowers Novel Crime/Thriller Hard Cover 387 pages
In a cold dry spring, thMad River by John Sandford Published by Putnam, 2012 ISBN: 978-0-399-15770-7 Virgil Flowers Novel Crime/Thriller Hard Cover 387 pages
In a cold dry spring, the clear air gives the prairie a particular bleakness, if your mood is already bleak.
Virgil had a feeling that there’d be a shooting before the end of the day, that people who were alive and even feeling good right then, maybe asleep in their beds, would be bleeding into the dirt before the sun went down.
Written with his friend Joe Soucheray, John Sandford has penned a terrific Virgil Flowers novel. We get to see glimpses of the fiercely individualistic Flowers while Sanford unrolls a particularly brutal string of shootings by the Bonnie and Clyde style murderers–Jimmy Sharp and Becky Welsh. Much focus is placed on police procedure and the sharp mind of Flowers. The mixture works well and makes for a story I didn’t want to put down.
Flowers’ fight against the mob mentality of the small-town cops after blood makes an interesting backdrop for the killings and poses the question: What do you do with people who throw out the law-book and begin killing their neighbours and even family–just because they can? Do you bring them to justice or do you shoot them like wild dogs in the street? And what about revenge killings by family members of one of the deceased? Do you treat them the same, or is there a different law for those on the side of right?
Mad River is an interesting story about small town folk with big city problems. And no one writes about rural Minnesota and Wisconsin than does John Sandford.
Bad Blood: A Virgil Flowers Novel John Sanford Putnum, 2010 978-0-399-15690-8 Hard Cover 388 Thriller Virgil Flowers
Virgil Flowers, the detective everyone lBad Blood: A Virgil Flowers Novel John Sanford Putnum, 2010 978-0-399-15690-8 Hard Cover 388 Thriller Virgil Flowers
Virgil Flowers, the detective everyone loves but hates, because trouble seems to follow him wherever he goes, has a puzzle on his hands that even he doesn't even like the feel of. But doing what he does best―Virgil finds trouble wherever he goes, along with interesting women and a litany of other characters. This time, however, the trouble has already raised its mighty head. Virgil has 4 dead bodies in one very small Michigan town and virtually nothing to move forward on. So, he keeps knocking on doors and reporting his progress at lunch at the local diner, looking for some way in; he wants a way into the problem, something, anything that will produce a crack in the invisible shield that surrounds the town and its mysterious church. Oh, Virgil can guess. In fact, he's pretty sure he knows exactly what is going on. But it's so heinous, so unbelievably wrong, that he can't bring himself to accept it until he and the local sheriff find some proof.
Virgil Flowers, otherwise known as that fucking flowers, is quite the character. A maverick who owns an endless supply of inappropriate T-shirts for the job he does. That job is lead investigator for Lucas Davenport of the Prey Novels. Other than being a fellow with absolutely no pretenses, Virgil could be a young Davenport, with his unrelenting focus on each case he works, with his propensity for rule breaking and for a type of charisma that simply wins people over.
Bad Blood is not a wild ride. It's not even the thriller that the Dust Jacket claims it is. Bad Blood is a police procedural. John Sanford marches his character(s) through a step by step process that cannot help but isolate the core problem and crack it open like a nut. Even with the almost unbelievable scope of the crime(s) Virgil Flowers must solve, I still felt as though each step taken was a step that must be taken, that this was how police work is actually done. Now, that's a suspension of belief!
John Sandford's Bad Blood develops more of his hot new character, Virgil Flowers, in one hell of a case. How could a fan not like that.
Great concept. The story pace was fast, almost too fast. I would have liked to see a longer story with more character development and suspense. In the end, though, everything seemed to work, making this compact thriller a story many are sure to enjoy.
Criticisms: the editing was just not up to par, a problem many self-published books fail to avoid. Past and present tenses were mixed together or improperly used. A much smaller issue was misspelling, usually due to dropped letters. As I don't know who the editor and proof readers were, I suspect the writers themselves. And I understand how difficult the job of self-editing is; I've been there. Especially when it's your debut novel.
So how do I sum up "Cruelty to Innocents?" The loss of a child, anyone's child, makes me physically ill. Webb and Weaver wrote down to this fear, then showed it to us. That's great writing. And because of the short length of the novel, the sense of panic and hurt and anger never really dissipated. I understand that this is both a mimicking of real life terror and a plot tool to keep this story raging along. These are all good things, and "Cruelty to Innocents" nailed them!
Then why only 3.5 stars? Very simply, the length. This could easily have been a much better book. If it had been longer, a greater suspect pool could have been written in (allowing for mystery as well as suspense, to give one example). Using the same "If," the main characters could have been developed through actions rather than thoughts and emotions, that oft-broken rule of "showing rather than telling." Basically, we're just beginning to know Sloanne and Shawn at the end of the novel. Perhaps this was intended, as the authors have at least two more books planned for this series.
Fast, attention-catching and filled with examples of strong writing, "Cruelty to Innocents" is also fundamentally flawed. But then Steven King was once referred to as "that hack!" and Asimov was derided for the simplicity of his stories and Robert Heinlein was chastised for writing fiction with all too apparent meaning. I have no problem recommending "Cruelty to Innocents." I also intend to read the next two books in the series; I suspect they will be better!
I enjoyed this book. The main reason for this is it was my first look inside Great Britain's police force. Read my full review of Deadly Focus and RCI enjoyed this book. The main reason for this is it was my first look inside Great Britain's police force. Read my full review of Deadly Focus and RC Bridgestock's upcoming release, Consequences, at the following URL...