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Mad River

(Virgil Flowers #6)

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  17,643 ratings  ·  1,192 reviews
Bonnie and Clyde, they thought. And what's-his-name, the sidekick. Three teenagers with dead-end lives, chips on their shoulders, and guns. The first person they killed was a woman during a robbery. The second was incidental. Simply in the way. Then, hell, why not keep on going?

It's not until Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers steps ont
Hardcover, 387 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
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Liz Always read series in order. That way you can follow relationships and in some cases story lines.
Carol Cundiff What a fascinating character. Virgil Flowers is a clean, lean, dedicated investigator with honorable intentions, and a smooth and humorous approach to…moreWhat a fascinating character. Virgil Flowers is a clean, lean, dedicated investigator with honorable intentions, and a smooth and humorous approach to people. He tows his fishing boat around just in case he needs some "thinkin' time, but never shirks the responsibilities of the case. We could use a few Virgils in real life. Sandford never looses track of the details, especially since his story gets pretty graphic...but that's what keeps a reader turning the pages.(less)

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After all these John Sandford books I’m starting to wonder how there could possibly be anyone left alive in Minnesota.

Three young people try to pull a burglary that turns into murder and starts them on a killing spree through a rural area. State cop Virgil Flowers is in hot pursuit, but it’s impossible to predict where they’ll go next and many an innocent person winds up dead as the kids rampage across the countryside.

Sandford continues to add new layers to Virgil and differentiate
James Thane
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jimmy Sharp is the de facto leader of two other loser kids from rural Minnesota, his girlfriend, Becky Welsh and a guy named Tom McCall who's hanging around with them because he's attracted to Becky and apparently because he has nothing better to do.

While working as a waitress at a homecoming dance, Becky spies a diamond necklace worn by the wealthiest woman in a small neighboring town. Now, Jimmy leads his two confederates on a middle-of-the-night mission to break into the woman's house and fo
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
The Virgil Flowers books are lucidly written police procedurals with humor, attention to details of setting in rural Minnesota, and good quirky characters. They aren't "mysteries" in the sense that there is anything for us to figure out; the good guys' and bad guys' stories are both followed and there's not much for the reader to puzzle out. Crimes are solved through interviews and require legwork and streetsmarts rather than science and tech. The appeal to the reader is not "whodunit" but watch ...more
Cary Griffith
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ok, there should be categories of rating. Since four stars equates with "I really liked it" I guess that'll suffice. But rating a Sandford novel four stars, as opposed to, say, Fahrenheit 451, is like giving pumpkin pie the same rating as turkey with greens (or in my case, tofurkey with spinach). Sandford is pure joy, but he's dessert, he's what you reward yourself with after you've done something prudent, level headed and good for you.

If you like the thriller genre I highly recommen
Jo Massino
Oct 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I do love "that f***in' Flowers"!
Albert Riehle
Oct 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
John Sandford is so consistent it's just not fair to the other writers in his genre. You'd think by now he'd have phoned one in or written a clunker, but he hasn't. He's the good book factory. It's as simple as that.

The only reason Virgil Flowers isn't my favorite thriller/mystery/cop character is that Lucas Davenport beat him to the top spot and hasn't done anything to relinquish it. It would have been easy for Sandford to make Flowers a young version of Davenport, hell, I doubt any
Jan 27, 2013 rated it liked it
I liked this portrayal of desperate frustration among the police trying to catch a young couple on a killing spree. This police procedural is the 6th in a series featuring Detective Virgil Flowers of Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He is easy to like for his down home charm and humor and for his pragmatic and persistent determination to find justice. I don’t rate it highly because I just wasn’t moved much emotionally by the tale, nor did I come away with much in the way of insight i ...more
11811 (Eleven)
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Dude keeps getting better with every book. His latest ten books are easily better than the first ten. I also recommend the Virgil Flowers series over the Prey novels but I like them all. I've done a few of these on audio lately and I think Sandford uses the same narrator for all his books. The reader is excellent and consistent. I may stick to these in audio now since quality narrators are a somewhat rare commodity.

I don't think I'll ever tire of Sandford's writing in any medium.
Seeley James
Oct 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There are only three authors whose books I will preorder, no matter what they write.* John Sandford, Lee Child, and Zoë Sharp. All three for the same reasons: I learn a great deal about writing from them; they each have a unique talent; they never disappoint; and, despite being deep into their respective franchise formulas, every book they write is fresh.

John Sandford’s unique talent lies in constructing the villains. His bad guys are perfect descriptions of the lowlifes who turn to
Andrew Smith
Dec 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was wrong. My initial impression, from the first Flowers book, was that any story featuring Davenport's sidekick from the Prey series as the lead character would be be no more than a snack leaving readers hungry for another helping of the main course - the next Lucas Davenport tale.
I've since read a couple more Flowers books (well what else can you do when you've already ticked off off the available adventures in the Prey series) and I have to say I've become a Virgil Flowers convert. I was g
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers of suspense, crime novels
There's a lot of testosterone in Sandford's novels, lawmen in the cities and wilds of Minnesota fighting against all manner of depraved law breakers. But there are also plots woven with some interesting details of detection, some character development that is a bit unexpected, especially with Virgil Flowers. The stories can be bloody--as Mad River was definitely--but, if you enjoy a TV show like Criminal Minds, Sandford might be for you.

Once again I liked this latest installment in t
Marty Fried
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Another fun read with Virgil Flowers and the gang. It's a good story, with a bit of meat to chew on, and the usual fun dialog and jokes. The basic story is fairly straightforward, and we know the perpetrators all along - a trio of young, very dumb losers who begin killing people, presumably over jealousy about an expensive diamond necklace worn to a reunion. But if that were all there was, it would be pretty boring, so there's another possibility - perhaps someone paid the killer to do the deed ...more
Aug 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, other-freebies
I won a copy of “Mad River” by John Sanford through GoodReads Frist Read program and I am SO glad that I did. I had never read any of Sanford’s books prior but I know I’ll be reading them going forward. I loved it! At times it kept me on the edge of my seat and other times it had me laughing out loud. And you can’t help but love the main character, Virgil Flowers. He is a fantastic cop with honor, compassion and a touch of sarcasm. OK, a lot of sarcasm…but that’s one of the things that I enjoy. ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another good Virgil Flowers read, his case ends him up close to his childhood home and he spends some time w/ mom & Minister dad, then the case heats up, and he has to find the young killers fast. Love this series from John Sandford!
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-books
Another solid effort from John Sandford. Mad River's villains are a misfit Bonnie and Clyde pair on a killing spree through the Minnesota countryside. It starts with what seems like a pointless murder during a house robbery and soon, Jimmy and Becky (great names for this pair) are killing everyone in sight, looking for money, and day-dreaming about running off to Texas, Mexico, or Australia. Virgil Flowers (the greatest of great names) is chasing after them while dealing with a bloodthirsty loca ...more
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Another enjoyable audio listen, this time read by Eric Conger. This book is part of the Virgil Flowers series by Sandford. Flowers is a BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension - weird name for a state police agency if there ever was one) agent working under Lucas Davenport who makes several cameo appearances. This is not an investigatory police procedural. The story alternatives between Flowers and the killers' narratives. There's never any doubt who's guilty, the only mystery being their ultimate ...more
Kathy Davie
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller
Sixth in the Virgil Flowers detective mystery thriller series (and loosely affiliated with the Lucas Davenport series). This revolves around Virgil, a laidback detective who enjoys the hunt, writes outdoors articles, and loves indie bands. It takes place in Minnesota in early April.

My Take
It starts bad and only gets much, much worse. The things people will do for money *shakes head*.

I may not enjoy the same types of music that Virgil does, but I do like how Sandford personalizes Virgil. His p/>My
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was just sad overall, but appropriately funny & interesting at points along the way. Flowers is quite the character. I love how he & Lucas tweak each other regularly. The argument about the greatest living country singer wasn't nearly as engaging for me as Lucas' top 100 songs of the rock & roll era since I'm not much of a fan of the genre, but the way Flowers investigates is great. His idea this time was a real hoot, but makes sense.

The frustration & reaction of
Tom Swift
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I went back to back with Virgil Flowers this week. Mad river is another great read from Sandford. Virgil is on the hunt for a couple of teenagers on a Bonnie and Clyde type crime spree in rural Minnesota.
Dotti Elrick
Oct 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
The more I read about Virgil the more I love him. In Mad River we meet his parents. Virgil is a lot like his dad. It was a nice glimpse of normal family life.
We meet our three bad guys (or two guys and a girl) on the first page. On the way to rob a family. The robbery goes bad, and they end up killing a woman. As they are making their escape, they kill a man for his car.
Jimmy, Becky and Tom are three kids from small town America. Who grew up poor with no hope of improving their lives. The
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If I don't count Harry Potter - who's in a league all by himself - my favorite fictional character has to be Virgil Flowers, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent in Minnesota. He's got it all: Good looks, quick wit and an uncanny ability to solve complex murder cases.

In Mad River, the most recent addition to author John Sanford's series, I was reminded of the reasons I love Flowers (and the books) by the time I hit the second chapter. The streets to the south of Main Street in the small t
Rex Fuller
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
A woman is murdered in the course of a robbery. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Neither was shooting the guy who showed up on the scene by accident. But that’s the problem with Becky and Jimmy. They could never get anything quite right.

After still more killing, Virgil knows he’s competing to beat half of Minnesota law enforcement to the kids or there’ll be a Bonnie and Clyde ending.

This one is marred by Sandford’s inability to keep his left-liberal-Democrat snarks out of
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Another great Flowers book. This is my favorite of the series. The ending was both a let down and very satisfying. It's the same way with a deep fried Twinkie.
So close to being a 5 star entry for me. The old farmer with the gay porn obsession almost pushed me over the top into 5 stardom. I didn't give in for fear he'd make me go down on him afterward.
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the first Virgil Flowers book I've read (I don't have a thing about reading a series in order) and I now plan to read more in the series. This was a real page turner. I couldn't wait to see how it was going to end. I think they should turn this series into a TV show. I know I'd watch it!
Doris Luther
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Virgil Flowers has his own series now and they are great. I like him better than Davenport, but I still like him too. There are some nasty spree killers out there and Virgil is bound to get them. I should know tonight.
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Loved it ! The worst part of reading the NEWEST Virgil Flowers story is that now I have to WAIT for the next one. PLEASE HURRY!!
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Virgil Flowers is an investigator for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He works for Lucas Davenport, the protagonist in the prolific “Prey” series by the same author. Virgil works crimes in the rural areas outside the Twin Cities. He is an unexpected cop - longish hair, rock band t-shirts, a little laid back, but smart and shrewd. In this book Virgil finds himself in a frenzied search for a modern day Bonnie and Clyde. Becky and Jimmy are on a killing spree. It started as a home bu ...more
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another solid outing for Virgil Flowers. This time he's up against a modern day Bonnie and Clyde on a robbery spree that's left dead bodies strewn in their wake. But as Virgil investigates, he sees what started the spree isn't as straightforward as it seems.
Ray Palen
Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
MAD RIVER opens with a crime spree that begins small but quickly spirals out of control. Three teen-agers from a rural Minnesota suburb --- Jimmy Sharp, Becky Welsh and Tom McCall --- are tired of their dead-end, nothing happening lives and plot a robbery. Their intention is to steal enough money to get out of their dead-end town.

The problem is that they are all armed and Jimmy and Becky have serious chips on their shoulders making them a lethal team. When a young girl is killed duri
Amorak Huey
Nov 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller
One of the things I tell students all the time is that for a story to work, the main character needs to be dynamic -- as in, capable of change. There has to be something at stake in the narrative for that main character. Not only something at stake in the events of the plot, but something deeper: something having to do, usually, with fundamental questions of self and identity. The character must change or lose out on a chance to do so; that's where the climax comes from.

Well, one of
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See also John Camp

John Sandford was born John Roswell Camp on February 23, 1944, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He attended the public schools in Cedar Rapids, graduating from Washington High School in 1962. He then spent four years at the University of Iowa, graduating with a bachelor's degree in American Studies in 1966. In 1966, he married Susan Lee Jones of Cedar Rapids, a fellow student at the U

Other books in the series

Virgil Flowers (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Dark of the Moon (Virgil Flowers, #1)
  • Heat Lightning (Virgil Flowers, #2)
  • Rough Country (Virgil Flowers, #3)
  • Bad Blood (Virgil Flowers, #4)
  • Shock Wave (Virgil Flowers, #5)
  • Storm Front  (Virgil Flowers, #7)
  • Deadline (Virgil Flowers, #8)
  • Escape Clause (Virgil Flowers, #9)
  • Deep Freeze (Virgil Flowers, #10)
  • Holy Ghost (Virgil Flowers, #11)
“I once defenestrated a guy. The cops got all pissed off at me. I was drunk, but they said that was no excuse."

"Ah well," Virgil said. Then, "The guy hurt bad?"

"Cracked his hip. Landed on a Prius. Really fucked up the Prius, too."

"I can tell you, just now is the only time in my life I ever heard 'defenestration' used in a sentence," Virgil said.

"It's a word you learn after you done it," Morton said. "Yup. The New Prague AmericInn, 2009."

Virgil was amazed. "Really? The defenstration of New Prague?”
“he thought a bit about God, and whether He might be some kind of universal digital computer, subject to the occasional bug or hack. Was it possible that politicians and hedge-fund operators were some kind of garbled cosmic computer code? That the Opponent, instead of having horns and a forked tail, was a fat bearded guy drinking Big Gulps and eating anchovy pizzas and writing viruses down in a hellish basement? That prayers weren’t answered because Satan was running denial-of-service attacks?” 7 likes
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