Today, John Sandford’s latest Prey book is released! I love his Virgil Flowers books and have been getting into the Prey series as well. All of his books gets my blood pumping, but whenever I see Virgil and Lucas Davenport working together, I know I can expect a kickass time. To say I’m excited is an understatement.
It publishes the day before my birthday. I took that as a sign (not that I ever need an excuse to buy any of Sandford’s books). So. Of course. I pre-ordered the signed hardcover edition 🤭 (Believe it or not, this is my first book pre-order ever).
As I anxiously wait for my copy to arrive in the mail, I figured we could celebrate with a nice big mug of my favorite tea and a top 3 post!
Each book is what I like to describe as “case by case” so they could be read individually, but reading in order does help with watching the characters develop (both in themselves and their relationships with others).
However, the way I was thrown into the mystery thrillers world was actually by discovering stray books in library sales or library “FREE! Take me home” carts. None of my mystery thriller books are in order, regardless of series.
So of the 10 random John Sandford books I’ve read here are my top three favorite ones!
Shock Wave (Book 5 of the Virgil Flowers Series)
A thrilling Virgil Flowers novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author, John Sandford.
Talk about risky business.
The superstore chain PyeMart has its sights set on a Minnesota river town, but two very angry groups want to stop it: the local merchants fearing for their businesses, and the environmentalists predicting ecological disaster. The protests don’t seem to be slowing the project down though, until someone decides to take matters into his own hands.
The first bomb goes off on the top floor of PyeMart’s headquarters in Michigan. The second one explodes at the construction site itself. The blasts are meant to inflict maximum damage – and they do.
Who’s behind the bombs and how far will they go? It’s Virgil Flowers’s job to find out . . . before more people get killed.
If I had to pick 1 top favorite Virgil Flowers book, it’d be Shock Wave. While each book never fails me in terms of blood rushing thrills, this one seemed to have a ticking bomb in the background…literally. The opening chapter will have you gripping the book with the very first victims of the bomber. It’s gruesome. It’s terrifying. And…the clock is ticking.
But I always have a bias towards my “firsts.” Shock Wave is actually the very first John Sandford book I ever picked up. (IIRC) It was one of those bestsellers on sale in front of Barnes & Nobles (before they go off the physical shelves). I have a bit of a pet peeve about getting into a series without at least reading the very first book, so I ended up reading Dark of the Moon first, but Shock Wave holds a special place in my heart.
Half the reason is because the book was so good and the ending was amazing, but the other half is because without Shock Wave, I would’ve never known about John Sandford!
Field of Prey (Book 24 of the Prey Series)
The night after the fourth of July, Layton Carlson Jr., of Red Wing, Minnesota, finally got lucky. And unlucky.
He’d picked the perfect spot to lose his virginity to his girlfriend, an abandoned farmyard in the middle of cornfields: nice, private, and quiet. The only problem was . . . something smelled bad—like, really bad. He mentioned it to a county deputy he knew, and when the cop took a look, he found a body stuffed down a cistern. And then another, and another.
By the time Lucas Davenport was called in, the police were up to fifteen bodies and counting. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, when Lucas began to investigate, he made some disturbing discoveries of his own. The victims had been killed over a great many years, one every summer, regular as clockwork. How could this have happened without anybody noticing?
Because one thing was for sure: the killer had to live close by. He was probably even someone they saw every day. . . .
This book is the first John Sandford book I read and reviewed after I started Cozy with Books. [I think] I picked this one (and its accompanying buddy “Buried Prey”) up in my college’s “free books” cart the last months before I graduated. I’m not entirely sure…how they came into my possession otherwise 😅 but they came home together.
Sandford tends to show us the antagonists early in his books via their own POV chapters, this one was no different. The first chapter already exposes who they are (name and all), though not enough about them to fully reveal their true nature (jobs, relationship with townfolks, etc). The chapter that opens with Davenport is where he gets called in to investigate a cistern full of female human remains…with most of them old…
With some of the bodies identified as women who only recently went missing, it was possible that the killer is still alive…and is someone they might have passed by and saw daily.
-“like excavating ten feet of cold bean soup. She says there might be four feet of bones at the bottom.”
Dark of the Moon (Book 1 of the Virgil Flowers Series)
Virgil Flowers — tall, lean, late thirties, three times divorced, hair way too long for a cop’s — had kicked around a while before joining the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. First it was the army and the military police, then the police in St. Paul, and finally Lucas Davenport had brought him into the BCA, promising him, “We’ll only give you the hard stuff.” He’d been doing the hard stuff for three years now — but never anything like this.
In the small town of Bluestem, where everybody knows everybody, a house way up on a ridge explodes into flames, its owner, a man named Judd, trapped inside. There is a lot of reason to hate him, Flowers discovers. Years ago, Judd had perpetrated a scam that’d driven a lot of local farmers out of business, even to suicide. There are also rumors swirling around: of some very dicey activities with other men’s wives, of involvement with some nutcase religious guy, and of an out-of-wedlock daughter. In fact, Flowers concludes, you’d probably have to dig around to find a person who didn’t despise him.
And that wasn’t even the reason Flowers had come to Bluestem. Three weeks before, there’d been another murder — two, in fact, a doctor and his wife. The doctor was found propped up in his backyard, both eyes shot out. There hadn’t been a murder in Bluestem in years — and now, suddenly, three? Flowers knows two things: this wasn’t a coincidence, and this had to be personal.
But just how personal is something even he doesn’t realize, and may not find out until too late. Because the next victim… may be himself.
And finally…the very first John Sandford book I ever read. It belongs on the list because it was the book that got me into all of this. If Shock Wave is the reason I noticed the series, then Dark of the Moon is the reason I stayed.
It’s the book that gets the reader introduced to this new character of John’s; a tall, lean, late thirties, three times divorced, hair way too long for a cop’s, charming man who investigates a string of killings following a case where a (very hated old man’s) house explodes in a giant fire ball out in the ridge. The writing and dialogue kept me turning and the ending had my jaws dropping.
Happy Publication Day, Ocean Prey! I can’t wait to read you too😍