Book Review: Righteous Prey by John Sandford

Happy Thursday, my lovely peeps🐥!
This week’s book review: Righteous Prey by John Sandford!

This was my most anticipated read of the year and I kept pushing it off as if to make the read even more rewarding the longer I wait for it. I finally got around to it, and I absolutely loved it!

Book Title: Righteous Prey
Series: Prey Series / Virgil Flowers
Book # 32 (Prey) / 14 (Virgil Flowers)
Author: John Sandford
Length: ~412 Pages (Based on Kindle Pages)
Publication Date: 4 Oct 2022
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Edition: eARC (NetGalley)
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Mystery > Crime, Thriller, Thriller > Mystery Thriller, Suspense, Police Procedural, Action

Goodreads: >LINK<
Amazon: >LINK<
Author Website: >LINK<

Disclaimer: A big thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. An ebook copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. This does not affect my review in any way, and all opinions are my own.

Beloved heroes Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers are up against a powerful vigilante group with an eye on vengeance in a stunning new novel from #1 New York Times-bestselling author John Sandford.

“We’re going to murder people who need to be murdered.” So begins a press release from a mysterious group known only as “The Five,” shortly after a vicious predator is murdered in San Francisco. The Five is believed to be made up of vigilante killers who are very bored…and very rich. They target the worst of society—rapists, murderers, and thieves—and then use their unlimited resources to offset the damage done by those who they’ve killed, donating untraceable bitcoin to charities and victims via the dark net. The Five soon become the most popular figures on social media, a modern-day Batman…though their motives may not be entirely pure.

After a woman is murdered in the Twin Cities, Virgil Flowers and Lucas Davenport are sent in to investigate. And they soon have their hands full–the killings are smart and carefully choreographed, and with no apparent direct connection to the victims, the Five are virtually untraceable. But if anyone can destroy this group, it will be the dynamic team of Davenport and Flowers.

5 bitcoin traders, immensely wealthy, and absolutely nuts in the head, conspire along with another individual to commit crimes “for the better of the world.” They kill those they deem worthy of death, post their crimes out as press releases along with the reasons that the individuals were killed, and a hefty amount in bitcoin is donated to a charity afterwards, a test to see if these non-profits would accept the money if they were to come out of these crimes; blood money. Lucas and Virgil aren’t called on, at least not until one of the killings happens on Minnesota soil and the BCA and US Marshal become involved.

Though I’ve seen books revolving around an individual or groups of people going after people who deserve justice, it was still a pretty good book and I enjoyed the plot. Beginning with weeks of staking out their victims, following their every move and tracking all of their personal securities, these five million/billionaire, along with their leader, come up with extremely detailed and well-thought-out plans that fully cover their tracks behind them. It’s nearly impossible to link the crime back to the perpetrator, at least, of course, until the killer in Minnesota slips up and it’s just enough of a clue for Lucas and Virgil to work off of. From there, the plot takes off and it doesn’t take long for the duo to identify some of the members of the Five and begin their pursuit. When The Five’s plans begins to crumble beneath them, people start to get really desperate. And desperate people are dangerous people.

In the first book where Lucas and Virgil worked together, Ocean Prey, Virgil actually worked mostly with Rae and Lucas with another team, covering background. Both having a criminal mind, nabbing clues in not so legal ways (like breaking into a house to investigate with a copy of a key made by pressing clay on it?), they have vastly different personalities when it comes to crime. Lucas sees things like a puzzle while Virgil’s more emotional (not that deaths don’t affect Lucas), but there’s an interesting dynamic between the two of them.

Lucas and Virgil were each other’s closest male friends, in the way men form friendships around shared traumatic stress and a predilection for jockstraps. Though they were friends, they were not alike.

Lucas could look at a body and become immediately absorbed in the technical details of the death: how the killing had been done, possible motives, who had the opportunity. He saw murder as a puzzle. The body was a detail, but not the only one. Murder signaled a competition that he was determined to win.

Virgil sought balance, rather than a victory. He wanted to wrench his world back into what it should be, a peaceful place where people cooperated to create a civilization. He disliked violence and rarely resorted to it. Murder was always a shock to his system.

In Righteous Prey, this time the duo really does work together, starting by visiting the scene of the Minnesota death, and “walking and knocking” on doors. Lucas being Virgil’s old boss, they’re best friends and their conversations can be pretty golden at times. There’s a hilarious supermarket scene with the most cliché undercover cop “quick pretend we’re a cute couple to avoid attention” trope that was the comedic highlight of my read. They’re funny and witty, and fantastic at bouncing ideas off each other. The bicker and banter between them reminds me of siblings and their interaction lightens the tenser parts of the book.

The woman called, “What’d you do? Did he see you?”

A male agent, also inside the store, who’d been looking at tomatoes, said, “They walked by him holding hands. [killer] wouldn’t look at them. He’s a homophobe and thought they were gay.”

Lucas, not transmitting, said to Virgil, “I won’t live this down. You will, of course, being an ambisexual hippie.”

The woman agent said, “That’s so cool. That’s really so cool.”

Lucas: “Ah, Jesus.”

There’s a lot of character development over the course of multiple books, for both Lucas and Virgil. Virgil has been writing as a side gig since the earliest books, more so as a magazine column writer, though. Soon, taking nature photographs and writing for magazines became writing fiction books for publishing deals and he’s in the middle of his third novel when Righteous Prey is taking place, with Lucas, a game maker himself, encouraging him. Because cops burn out hard and fast. Lucas, already rich off his games and only picking up the most interesting of cases can only hope that Virgil will follow because neither of them can see the latter continue to run around Minnesota for much longer. They’re getting older and their lives have been constantly at stake. They barely make it through this book (though I’ve definitely said this earlier in a few other books too, so…)

There were some places that were slow, you can’t have promising leads forever, and there are multiple times the duo run into walls. Still, the thrill is always present and there’s always some form of a chase, but the killers are just as slippery as they are elusive. Along with cash to back them up, clever alibis, and this case taking place across multiple stakes, Virgil and Lucas are just running all over the place. In fact, if The Five had kept all of this on the down low, and not going about publishing every hit to the public, they probably could’ve easily gotten away with these killings for a long time!

All in all, I had a wonderful time with it and I’m definitely going to get the physical copy when it comes out next month. My only worry is, with Lucas and Virgil growing older, having promising new careers on their horizon, family, and with Lucas’ adoptive daughter, Letty, having her own spin-off series now, we may very well be nearing the end of both Lucas and Virgil’s adventures. The book ends pretty well though, especially given the scary events that took place in the climax. It has a very open end feel to it, with plenty of possibilities to come. Another gripping and solid book from Sandford. I could not put this one down!

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Book Review: Ocean Prey by John Sandford

The last book in the series and now it’s a long wait before my next Virgil Flowers adventure *sob*!

Hello my lovely peeps🐥!
Today’s the last review of my little Sandford/Virgil Flowers reading binge and it’s Ocean Prey by John Sandford. It is the 13th book in the Virgil Flowers series and the 31st book in the Prey series. Funny enough, I ended up borrowing the Kindle version and moved over to it (from the hardcover) because I guess I received a copy with a printing error(😅). The book ends mid-sentence in Chapter 30 (two chapters short of the actual book).

At least, according to my brother, I now own a signed limited edition!

Book Description

Title: Ocean Prey
Series: Virgil Flowers & Prey Book # 13 & 31
Author: John Sandford
Edition: Physical > Paperback, E-Book > Kindle (Libby/Overdrive)
Length: 431 Pages
Genre/s: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Police Procedural

Blurb (Goodreads)

An off-duty Coast Guardsman is fishing with his family in the Atlantic just off south Florida when he sees, and then calls in, some suspicious behavior in a nearby boat. It’s a snazzy craft, slick and outfitted with extra horsepower, and is zipping along until it slows to pick up a surfaced diver . . . a diver who was apparently alone, without his own boat, in the middle of the ocean. None of it makes sense unless there’s something hinky going on, and his hunch is proven correct when all three Guardsmen who come out to investigate are shot and killed.

They’re federal officers killed on the job, which means the case is the FBI’s turf. When the FBI’s investigation stalls out, Lucas Davenport of the U.S. Marshals Service gets a call. The case turns even more lethal and Davenport needs to bring in every asset he can find, including a detective with a fundamentally criminal mind: Virgil Flowers.

Review

The thirteenth book in the Virgil Flowers series and the 31st in the Prey/Lucas Davenport series, this is the first book where two of my favorite characters work together on a case and was probably my most anticipated 2020 read. By the time I was about four chapters in, however, I was beginning to worry because, (obviously, with “Prey” in the title), this was looking to be more of a Davenport book than a Virgil book, which is totally fine, except that (while I’m all caught up in the Virgil Flowers series) in the Prey series, I’m only up to around book three (which I was reading alongside Ocean Prey). My fear had been that 1) I wasn’t going to see much of Virgil in action and 2) I’m so far behind in the Prey series, that I feared missing major character development notes and characters.

But…I was worried for nothing. Just a bit further in, Virgil does come in and kicks ass as he gets to experience working as a US Marshal for the first time. As for major character development, I actually found it very entertaining to read this while I read book three of the Prey series (it’s kind of neat to see the difference between [younger] Davenport and current Davenport!)

The book starts off with a Coast Guard who had been sailing in his boat with his wife and baby when he sees something suspicious and calls it in to his boss who dispatches a few guys to go investigate. The three Coast Guards barely come close to the suspicious boat and its occupants before they’re promptly shot and killed, with the antagonists making a quick getaway. The original Coast Guard, who is still with his family, a ways back, knows something is off and pursues the fleeing killers and while doesn’t manage to catch them, he does kill one, and it’s just enough to get the start of the case rolling.

Lucas Davenport no longer works with the BCA but rather with the US Marshal Service and his help is requested, though it’s up to him to pick up the case or not. He does take it on, but mostly to help run the street side of it, what with his experience with that and all. When something awful happens, it shakes Davenport to his core and it’s a little while before he’s back on his feet, but this time he calls Virgil in to help.

The book essentially separates in different months, showing that this case spans for quite a while. The first half is mostly Davenport centric while the second part focuses on both Davenport and Virgil with Virgil acting undercover, placing him in a very dangerous position. Anything can go wrong and with the enemies and killers, this time, being the Mafia, the danger is only magnified! There are several people already, throughout the book, that “go away” as the killers and Mafia start to clean up their trails and it’s terrifying to know that anyone related to the case can just potentially up and disappear. You can’t trust anyone, not even a person eating in the next table over at a diner, because who knows if they’re connected to the big boss or not.

“Damn straight,” Regio said. “Don’t even think about hocking that gear and running back to Iowa. We got guys in Iowa.”

This book started out a little slow and the FBI aren’t getting anywhere in the case, which is where the Marshals had to step in offering their help. You’d think that, like back in Bloody Genius where the charge cop was none too pleased to receive Virgil’s help (because it would make the police department look bad were he to crack a case that stumped them), you’d get a similar reaction from the FBI supervising agent, but no, agent Weaver is quite happy to receive anything at this point because their leads and investigation are leading them nowhere. Davenport goes off to start his investigation, slowly and easy does it at first, with his buddy and fellow Marshal, Bob, until something awful happens that knocks both Davenport, his whole team, and the FBI way off course and it’s a bit before everybody collects themselves again and Virgil joins in on the show followed by Rae, another fellow Marshal.

This book could definitely be read as a standalone, which had been my original worry. Sure, there may be developments in the last few books that could explain some traits or give you some insight to references mention in Ocean Prey, but you’re fine reading this on its own. Characters are properly introduced, so you wouldn’t be missing them if they were reoccurring characters. I personally enjoyed Rae a lot and by the end I think even Virgil, who works with her for the first time here, is in love with how good of a cop she is. They work fantastically as a pair, watching each other’s back and catching subtle cues between each other.

In comparison to the Virgil Flowers books, this was something new that I think I quite enjoyed. Most, if not all, of the settings in the Virgil Flowers books are in the cold and icy state of Minnesota, but here, we’re all over the place from New Jersey and New York to Florida! As a resident of NY, there were even places I recognized in the Tri-State area (always neat to see books set near where you live).

Manhattan always smelled like week-old sour buttered popcorn to Lucas, but he usually visited in late spring or early autumn; on this day in January, with the temperature hovering around twenty, it smelled like week-old sour cold-buttered ice.

The following book is slated for later this year and is another duo Virgil and Davenport adventure. I think Virgil might have taken quite a liking to this Marshal work and I definitely am looking forward to more from him, Davenport, and Rae!

Ocean Prey‘s ending was pretty good as well and left me with a book hangover, missing the warmth of the adrenaline coursing through my vain that lasted through most of the last ten chapters. Another awesome book from John Sandford!

Time for some golden eggs! Ocean Prey by John Sandford gets…

5 Shiny Shiny Eggs!

Book Review: Holy Ghost by John Sandford

Happy Saturday my lovely peeps🐥!
The final of my rereads, this book was one that I had read out of order, so we’re going to take a big hop from book five, yesterday’s post, to book 11!

Book Description

Title: Holy Ghost
Series: Virgil Flowers Book # 11
Author: John Sandford
Edition: Physical > Paperback
Length: 402 Pages
Genre/s: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Police Procedural

Blurb (Goodreads)

Wheatfield, Minnesota – a metropolis of seven hundred souls. The word “moribund” might have been invented for Wheatfield. Nothing ever happened there and nothing ever would—until the mayor of sorts (campaign slogan: “I’ll Do What I Can”) and a buddy come up with a scheme to put the town on the map. They’d heard of a place where a floating image of the Virgin Mary had turned the whole town into a shrine, attracting thousands of pilgrims. And all those pilgrims needed food, shelter, all kinds of crazy things, right? They’ll get rich! What could go wrong?

When the first dead body shows up, they find out. That’s only the beginning of their troubles—and those of Virgil Flowers’—as they are about to discover all too soon.

Review

Holy Ghost is the eleventh book in the Virgil Flowers series and starts off with the mayor of Wheatfield, a small town in Minnesota with a population of roughly 650 residents, shooting flies as they come in through the door.

This, in a town whose population had fallen from 829 in 2000 to 721 in the last census, and now probably hovered around 650, leaving behind twenty or thirty empty houses and a bunch of empty apartments over the downtown stores. Half the stores were themselves shuttered, and some had been simply abandoned by their owners, eventually—and pointlessly—taken by the county due to lack of property tax payments.

There’s not much hope left in a town that’s clearly dying and everybody from its inhabitants to their mayor knows this. What they need is something big. Something to draw in the crowd; a miracle. And a miracle does happen, sightings and even cellphone recordings of the Virgin Mary at the local church! Suddenly, there’s no end to the tourists who flock to the small town in hopes of seeing the apparition. It’s great and even helps revive a near dead economy!

What they don’t need is are shootings, specifically what could be a nut job on the loose, taking people down with a rifle, sniping from who knows where. It’s time to call in the big guns and Virgil Flowers is that guy. Only an hour from his home base in Mankato, he says goodbye to his girlfriend, promising to be back in time for the ultrasound of their baby and he’s off to this small town where the Virgin Mary is apparently showing up along with a shooter.

This was a pretty good book and one of my favorite from the series. In this book, Virgil struggles to piece together multiple things. The thing that especially plagues him is, nobody hears the gunshots. You’d think there’s at least be one witness who heard something, anything, but nobody does! Jumping from place to place, he quickly finds more bodies and the deaths are starting to rack up with his clues not particularly leading to anywhere.

There are several pretty intense scenes including the injury of a fellow cop. There are multiple moments where Virgil is willing to put himself in danger if it means getting a glimpse of a clue. The ending and climax scene, as always, were superbly done and had me at the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen.

The actual ending of the book was really nice too, involving relationships and family. I’ve followed Virgil from his first book to where he his now and knowing how he is, it’s really nice and kind of sweet to see how the book ended.

A really good book, decent thriller with a sense of urgency hanging over the protagonist’s head. There are some good scenes, thrills and suspenses, and Shake and Jenkins, being the BCA’s official “thugs”, are back at it again to help aid Virgil in this job. I always appreciate these two golf loving meatheads because they bring a sense of comedic relief to what could have been an all intense book. I have to go back and read the 10th book now, as I read Holy Ghost out of order, and I certainly can’t wait to do so and then jump right into Bloody Genius afterwards.

4½ Shiny Shiny Eggs

Book Review: Shock Wave by John Sandford

It’s finally Friday! Happy No-Alarm Day Eve, my lovely peeps🐥!

Today’s post is the fifth of the six reread reviews featuring book five of the Virgil Flowers series, Shock Wave by John Sandford and the only one of the bunch that I reread from cover to cover and thus counted towards my yearly reading goal. Can you blame me? It’s my favorite one in the series so far, though my recently finished Ocean Prey may actually give it a run for its money!

꜀( ˊ̠˂˃ˋ̠ )꜆ F – R – I – Y – A – Y !! ꜀( ˊ̠˂˃ˋ̠ )꜆

Book Description

Title: Shock Wave
Series: Virgil Flowers Book # 05
Author: John Sandford
Edition: Physical > Paperback
Length: 388 Pages
Genre/s: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Police Procedural

TW/CW: Death, Murder, Graphic Violence, Language, Graphic Deaths, Domestic Terrorism, Bombs, Bomb Related Injuries and Death

꜀( ˊ̠˂˃ˋ̠ )꜆ F – R – I – Y – A – Y !! ꜀( ˊ̠˂˃ˋ̠ )꜆

Blurb (Goodreads)

The superstore chain PyeMart has its sights set on a Minnesota river town, but two very angry groups want to stop it: local merchants, fearing for their businesses, and environmentalists, predicting ecological disaster. The protests don’t seem to be slowing the project, though, until someone decides to take matters into his own hands.

The first bomb goes off on the top floor of PyeMart’s headquarters. 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.

Review

Phew, what a read! What a reread! You’d think with it being my favorite book in the entire series, I’d both remember each detail and not be surprised at how things ended up, but nope! Shocked the first time. Shocked the second time. To relive the absolute joys of the events, suspense, and emotions as if they were my first has been amazing indeed!

The fifth book to the Virgil Flowers series, Shock Wave starts off on a gruesome note. Somewhere away from the usual Minnesota setting, the book begins in Michigan, at the Pinnacle, PyeMart’s headquarters; PyeMart being a superstore chain. The first bomb goes off on the top floor of the Pinnacle, killing an innocent employee and injuring another. Then a second bomb explodes in Minnesota, at the actual construction site of an upcoming PyeMart in the small town, yet again killing one, injurying another. The ATF is called in to investigate and so does Virgil Flowers.

Once again, we have Virgil on a case and this time, he sets a friendly bet of a deadline with PyeMart’s owner, Pye Willard, that he’d catch the bomber within the week.

This one was quite the mystery and there’s no shortage of suspense, thrills, and gripping moments. In this case, even Virgil finds himself in a tight position and his own life in danger. In just his first few days there, several more bombs explode all around the place and Virgil and his team need to put a stop to this before it gets out of hand. Except, there’s too many places to start the investigation.

A lot of people in Butternut Falls hate the upcoming PyeMart, the town’s practically in a civil war over it’s plans. Sure, it might bring some jobs to the local youth, but other than that, it’ll destroy the town. The local fishermen are greatly displeased, some maybe even radical enough to blow all related plans up to the store. The run off from the store could harm the water down at the creek and their beautiful lake. And then? There’s rumors that the town council were brought, bribed, to overturn their initial vote and allow the plans to continue. Between the money aspect and trying to protect the local environment, there’s a long long list for Virgil to start looking.

The worst part is, with bombers, you never know what goes on in their head. With a penchant adrenaline and life or death situations, Virgil might catch a culprit who has a motive tied to the previously mentioned money and environment OR…it’s a nut. And nuts are harder to pin down. No amount of hints and clues to bring you to the culprit, because they might not have one.

“Maybe there’s more than one,” Pye suggested.
“I don’t think so,” Virgil said. “Nuts don’t come in bunches. Only grapes do.”

There were a lot of very intense moments in this book and even some of the smaller events came close to jaw-dropping, but it’s the actual climax and ending of the story that I loved most. I like to think that I can always count on John Sandford to provide me with a decent thriller, but this one takes the cake. I almost got whip lash on the turn of events or rather, the plot twist followed by a plot twist followed by plot twist. My favorite moment was going, “Aw heck, I guess the wrong bad guy again” to “Ah-ha!” to “Ah nah…” to “OH GOD I KNEW IT!” Finally, I hit the jackpot.

Once again, there are some recurring characters in here lending Virgil a hand, namely our two favorite BCA thugs, Shrake and Jenkins. This time, however, we also have many other very interesting characters that were there to help get the investigation rolling: Earl Ahlquist, the Kandiyohi country sheriff, Jim Barlow with the ATF who admitted to Virgil that while he’s great with the technical stuff, he’d need Virgil’s social butterfly skills to help with the actual communications part of the investigation, O’Hara, a female deputy, some very intriguing suspects/resident of Butternuts, and even a band of divers!

All in all, a fantastic read. I loved it from the first few pages to the last and I feel like the more I read it, regardless of how much time in between, the more I’ll remember the plot so reexperiencing it “for the first time” may never happen again, but I never need an excuse to reread a Sandfrods book, especially a Virgil Flowers one. Lives are in danger, nobody knows who’s next, innocent people are dying, and time is of major essence. An amazing read with a whiplash worthy end.

“You can’t see potential money,” Virgil said.

“But it’s real,” Pye said, shaking a fat finger at him. “It’s the thing that drives this whole country. People thinking about money, and how to get it. There are people out there who break their hearts over money. It happens every day. The shrinks talk about sex, and cops talk about drugs, and liberals talk about fundamentalist religion, and the right-wingers talk about creeping socialism, but what people think of, most of the time, is money. When I was the horniest I ever was, and I was a horny rascal, I didn’t think about sex for more’n an hour a day, and I’d spend sixteen hours thinking about money.”

Time for some golden eggs! Shock Wave by John Sandford gets…

Five shiny shiny eggs!

Book Review: Bad Blood by John Sandford

Happy Thursday, my lovely peeps🐥!
Today’s post is the fourth of the six reread reviews featuring book four of the Virgil Flowers series, Bad Blood by John Sandford!


Do you know how memorable reviews can be? Once, someone had pointed out, in one of the Goodreads reviews of one of Sandford’s books, about how with so many deaths they don’t know how there’s still anyone alive in Minnesota and I laughed. I think about that statement with every death between the Virgil Flowers and Prey books now.

Book Description

Title: Bad Blood
Series: Virgil Flowers Book # 04
Author: John Sandford
Edition: EBook > Kindle
Length: 404 Pages
Genre/s: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Police Procedural
TW/CW: Death, Murder, Graphic Violence, Language, Abuse of Minors, Sexual Abuse of Minors

Blurb (Goodreads)

One late fall Sunday in southern Minnesota, a farmer brings a load of soybeans to a local grain elevator- and a young man hits him on the head with, was it a steel bar?, and then drops him into the grain bin as he first waits until he’s sure he’s dead, and then calls the sheriff to report the “accident.” Suspicious, the sheriff calls in Virgil Flowers, who quickly breaks the kid down.

The next day the boy is found hanging in his cell. Remorse? Virgil isn’t so sure. As he investigates, he begins to uncover a multigeneration, multifamily conspiracy – a series of crimes of such monstrosity that, though he’s seen an awful lot in his life, even he has difficulty in comprehending.

More importantly, he has to figure out what to do.

Review

The fourth installation of the Virgil Flowers book and of all of the rereads, this was the only one that I got midway to and had to forfeit because I suddenly remembered the plot and simply couldn’t continue reading from the sheer disgust and horror reading it the first time had left me. The book itself wasn’t bad, but the storyline, crime, and even the minor characters (the townspeople) were downright awful. The victims here are children and teens, all minors who undergo some gross abuse, especially sexual abuse and I didn’t want to read it again.

Bad Blood starts out with a scene where a young man, a soon-to-be college athlete with a very bright future, is in the middle of his clerk shift at a local soybean grain elevator when he murders a man, ending his crime with a “fuck you” and “You sick fuckin’ prick…” Immediately, you’re opening the book wondering, “Damn, what the hell did he do???”

The young man tries to stage it to look like the grate had fallen, fatally hitting the victim’s head, but it’s a poorly done amateur job. His lie is quickly crushed and he is arrested shortly afterwards. He’s later found dead in his cell, by apparent suicide.

A good kid, no past history with crime. No motive. Nothing to go on, but things are definitely sketchy. It doesn’t help that the officer on watch, during the hour the kid “kills himself” happens to be a crooked and corrupt cop with his own set of shady practices. You can’t really trust his I donno, he was alive one hour and dead the next statement, now can you? Virgil is called in to help investigate and when he arrives to investigate the first two deaths, a third occurs.

Action and thrill wise, this was an epic read. I loved that part of the book, but the children victims? That’s the awful part. There’s three deaths, with very close links, right off the bat and, like any of the other “small town” investigations Virgil looks into, if given a town with no problems for many years and suddenly there are three deaths in the same week? “Extremely suspicious” doesn’t even begin to cover things.

Fast-paced with no major pauses in the middle, Virgil is constantly on the move and following leads. Tangled in a giant web of lies that half the town is in on, everybody covering every other body’s asses, in this book, our protagonist will find himself unearthing deeply buried secrets as he begins to investigate a cult that may not be what it looks from the front. As the son of a minister himself, I thought it kind of neat that he would drop verses to catch people in their lies.

The climax of the book was where things get ugly and shit hits the fan big time. There’s a major gunfight that was quite the adrenaline rush as Virgil gets the help of my two favorite recurring characters, Shrake and Jenkins. Being a pretty hard book with a lot of tense and disturbing moments, I enjoyed the minor humorous moments sprinkled in along with Virgil’s usual creative ways in obtaining knowledge and town gossip. A very good thriller with nasty secrets and vile people; I just wouldn’t call it an “enjoyable read” like I usually would with a Virgil Flowers book.

“If that boy were any dumber, he’d have to be watered twice a week.”

“I’ve never been overgunned. I have been under-gunned. After that happened, I reconceptualized.”

“‘So?’
‘So I threw a little Deuteronomy thirty-one:six at them, one of the most famous verses in the Bible. They had no idea,’ Virgil said. ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
‘Well—just because they’re Bible-based, doesn’t mean they know every word,’ Coakley said.
‘They should know those words,’ Virgil said. ‘There’s something going on here, out in the countryside, and we don’t know what it is, do we, Mrs. Jones?'”

Time for some golden eggs! Bad Blood by John Sandford gets…

4.5 Shiny Shiny Eggs!

Book Review: Rough Country by John Sandford

Midweek is here and it’s hard fought!
Happy Wednesday, my lovely peeps 🐥 !

Today’s post is the third of the six reread reviews featuring book three of the Virgil Flowers series, Rough Country by John Sandford!

Book Description

Title: Rough Country
Series: Virgil Flowers Book # 03
Author: John Sandford
Edition: EBook > Kindle
Length: 388 Pages
Genre/s: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Police Procedural

Blurb (Goodreads)

Virgil Flowers has always been known for having a somewhat active, er, social life, but he’s probably not going to be getting too many opportunities for that during his new case. While competing in a fishing tournament in a remote area of northern Minnesota, he gets a call from Lucas Davenport to investigate a murder at a nearby resort, where a woman has been shot while kayaking.

The resort is for women only, a place to relax, get fit, recover from plastic surgery, commune with nature, and while it didn’t start out to be a place mostly for those with Sapphic inclinations, that’s pretty much what it is today.

Which makes things all the more complicated for Virgil, because as he begins investigating, he finds a web of connections between the people at the resort, the victim, and some local women, notably a talented country singer. The more he digs, the move he discovers the arrows of suspicion that point in many directions, encompassing a multitude of motivations: jealousy, blackmail, greed, anger, and fear. Then he discovers that this is not the first murder, that there was a second, seemingly unrelated, the year before. And that there’s about to be a third, definitely related, any time now. And as for the fourth… well, Virgil better hope he can catch the killer before that happens.

Because it could be his own.

Review

The third installation of the Virgil Flowers series, in Rough Country, the story opens up with a woman shot by an unknown sniper as she’s kayaking in the middle of the night. McDill, the CEO of a pretty big advertisement agency, is out kayaking, basking in the calm night as she ponders about how she now owns a majority share of the firm. As she muses over a big ol’ list of people she intends to fire (while increasing profits without sacrificing productivity) she’s shot in the forehead, her body found the following morning. Virgil Flowers, nearby on his own break from work and having a blast in the fishing tournament with his buddy Johnson Johnson (yes, that’s literally his name) is called in by his boss, Lucas Davenport, to investigate.

In this book, Virgil finds himself struggling as his leads bring him to absolutely nowhere. To make things worse, he finds himself tangled up in a massive web of love, sex, and money that centers around the resort that the victim had been staying in, the Eagle Nest Lodge. All three are great reasons to kill a person, but the problem is just about everyone connected to McDill was involved in one of the three with her. Everyone seems to be a suspect but there’s no solid clue and during the midpoint of the book, even Virgil admits to himself that he really had nothing good to bring to trial.

While not as particularly thrilling as the first two books, it’s got its own set of great moments. We eventually boil down to a couple of prime suspects and all of the clues seem to lead one way until there is a ball of twists thrown at both Virgil and the readers towards the end.

As with many of the other Virgil Flowers books, while this is part of a series, Rough Country works out pretty well as a standalone read. Still though, it’s possible you may come across a glimmer of a spoiler here and there. For example, through this entire book, new characters would greet Virgil as “Hey! You’re that cop who did so and so back at the falls!” and in book two, people did the same, “Hey! Heard you [spoiler] someone a while back? I heard about you!”

Point is, Virgil’s a pretty famous cop who pulls headlining crazy stunts or rather…always finds himself in headliner worthy crazy cases. It makes sense…Davenport did promise him that they’d only ever give Virgil the hard cases. If you don’t mind a small glimpse here and there, it’s a pretty good standalone. Most of these books are case by case, so things tend to resolve by the end and don’t carry over (so don’t worry about cliffhanger endings). If you do happen to read in order, they’re actually pretty nice Easter eggs to reminisce over (“Oh hey! I remember that moment!”).

Overall, a pretty decent thriller and the ending did throw me for a loop (just as the previous book’s did). While the readers and Virgil eventually zero in on a smaller list of suspects, there’s always one last surprise or two in the end and then all your theories go out the window. For Rough Country though, there was an even bigger twist that had me gasping at the revelation.

Once again, I guessed the wrong bad guy.

Time for some golden eggs! Rough Country by John Sandford gets…

Book Review: Heat Lightning by John Sandford

Happy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s post, the second review of the six rereads: Heat Lightning by John Sandford!

Book Description

Title: Heat Lightning
Series: Virgil Flowers Book # 02
Author: John Sandford
Edition: EBook > Kindle
Length: 388 Pages
Genre/s: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Police Procedural

Blurb (Goodreads)

On a hot, humid summer night in Minnesota, Virgil Flowers gets a call from Lucas Davenport. A body has been found near a veterans’ memorial in Stillwater with two shots to the head and a lemon in his mouth—exactly like the body they found two weeks ago.

Working the murders, Flowers becomes convinced that someone is keeping a list—with many more names on it. And when he discovers what connects them all, he’s almost sorry. Because if it’s true, then this whole thing leads down a lot more trails than he thought it did—and every one of them is booby-trapped.

Review

Heat Lightning is the second installation of the Virgil Flowers series and takes place a little later after his incident in Bluestem Town. Relatively tall with blond hair too long to be a cop’s and constantly going about investigations with indie band tee shirts, Virgil looks more like your typical surfer dude than a police officer. He loves to fish, even occasionally tots around his fishing gear (boat included), and outside of being an officer, Virgil writes for outdoor magazines. He’s a pretty chill cop!

Like many of Sandford’s books, the story often opens up to the POV of the antagonist as they commit a crime; sometimes the first killing and sometimes part of an already on-going chain of deaths. This time around, we have two antagonists, going by the name of the Shooter and the Scout as they take aim and kill both a man and his dog as they take their daily night walks before dumping his body at a veteran’s monument, a lemon in his mouth. The second chapter starts off the main of the story with Virgil being called in to investigate, this being the second of the “lemon killings.” Just two weeks ago, there had been another body found near a veteran’s memorial, lemon in mouth. It’s no coincidence!

I thought that most of the story was somewhat of a thrill. At all times, the two killers seem to constantly be at least one step ahead of Virgil and no matter what cautions are taken, bodies still keep piling up. There’s a list of people, with many more names on it, and that means there will be more bodies, but Virgil just can’t seem to get to the bottom of this.

The actual climax, revelation, and motive behind all of the killers was pretty wild. It was a crazy ending for sure and there were some twists thrown in there. Some I actually managed to see (a split second before Virgil himself realizes) and some really threw me in for a loop. There are some really tense moments in here with a fantastic and adrenaline rushing shootout scene towards the end. Davenport and his own team and friends (i.e. Del Capslock) make a cameo from the Prey/Lucas Davenport series and I kind of enjoyed seeing the whole interaction. Of course, the BCA’s official duo of thugs, Shrake and Jenkins, also show up and it’s always a good time when they do.

All in all, a pretty good book with a nice amount of thrill and guess work thrown about.

Time for some golden eggs! Heat Lightning by John Sandford gets…

Four Shiny Shiny Eggs!

Book Review: Dark of the Moon by John Sandford

Last month and at the start of this month, I mentioned that I was rereading the earlier Virgil Flowers books so that I could have all the reviews, for this series, up on my blog (what ever I have up already plus the six I read prior to starting Cozy with Books) before I put up my review for Ocean Prey.

This week, every day, there will be a new review just for this series and we’re starting with Dark of the Moon the first book in the Virgil Flowers series by John Sandford!

Book Description:

Title: Dark of the Moon
Series: Virgil Flowers Book # 01
Author: John Sandford
Edition: EBook > Kindle
Length: 373 Pages
Genre/s: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Police Procedural

Blurb (Goodreads)

Virgil Flowers — tall, lean, late thirties, three times divorced, hair way too long for a cop — 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.

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 it 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.

Review

Breaking away from the main Davenport series, Dark of the Moon is the first installation in the spin-off series, Virgil Flowers, focusing on a new protagonist, one who works under Davenport himself. Heading into investigations with his indie band tees, occasionally towing his fishing boat and gear behind him, and constantly “forgetting” his gun in the car, Virgil is pretty laid back for a cop.

“He was a medium-tall man with blond hair and gray eyes, a half inch over six feet, lean, broad shouldered, long armed with big hands; his hair was way too long for a cop’s but fell short of his shoulders.”

“He came back home, found that there was no huge demand for bachelor-degree ecologists, and went off to the Police Academy. Got married, got divorced, got married, got divorced, got married, got divorced, and at the end of a five-year round of silliness, decided he didn’t want to be a four-time loser, so he stopped getting married.”

Virgil had worked for the City of St. Paul as an investigator for eight years before getting bored and being borrowed by a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) unit. He eventually moved from being an investigator to working as a BCA agent after coming across Lucas Davenport who had promised him that they’d only give him the hard stuff.

The story, like many of John Sandford’s other books, starts off from the POV of the antagonist. Occasionally, Sandford would share the villain’s name up front in the very first chapter while other times, no names or only aliases/last names are given. The difference is knowing whether the main characters were growing hotter and colder vs spending the rest of the book wondering whodunit.

In this book, the plotline starts off from the point of view of Moonie, the antagonist’s alias, having tied up an old man, dragging him down into his own basement before tossing him on top of several bags of wood chips and finally throwing gasoline everywhere. The chapter ends with the old man burning alive as his house goes up in massive flame and Moonie makes a clean getaway.

As with many of his other books, there is always a main plot followed by a few other side plots. Sometimes, these smaller investigations turn out to have ties to the main investigation/plot while other times, it’s all completely unrelated. In Dark of the Moon, the main focus was not even this old man’s murder. Virgil is introduced the following chapter as he’s driving to investigate a different murder case in the same area (the rural, everybody knows everybody’s business, town of Bluestem). It was on his way to Bluestem, that this fireball of an inferno had caught his eye and he stops to investigate and see if he could provide any assistance.

This was a pretty exciting read and had been my first John Sandford book. When I’d gone and downloaded, it sat in my Kindle for a while before I finally touched it. I was pretty upset afterwards too. Why did I wait this long to read such an amazing book?? With so many major things happening in or around Bluestem, it sure makes for a hook of a first book. It’s wild the way things end up connecting and with Virgil busy hopping from one case to another and with the string of deaths happening all around him, it makes for a chaotic investigation. Fast-paced with two very impressive engagement scenes between Virgil, with the help of the local law enforcement or reinforcements from the government, against the villains in the book, you quickly eat through the story.

Time for some golden eggs! Dark of the Moon by John Sandford gets…

4½ Shiny Shiny Eggs!

Book Review: Bloody Genius by John Sandford

Hello, my lovely peeps 🐥 !
It’s time for Thursday Reviews and this week, we have Bloody Genius by John Sandford, the [current] last Virgil Flowers book as from here on, at least for the next two books, it’ll be a duo between Sandford’s two main series, Virgil’s and Davenport’s!

Book Description

Title: Bloody Genius
Series: Virgil Flowers Book # 12
Author: John Sandford
Edition: Physical (Paperback Book)
Length: 406 Pages
Genre/s: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Police Procedural

Blurb (Goodreads)

Virgil Flowers will have to watch his back–and his mouth–as he investigates a college culture war turned deadly in this thriller from #1 “New York Times” bestseller John Sandford.

At the local state university, two feuding departments have faced off on the battleground of PC culture. Each carries their views to extremes that may seem absurd, but highly educated people of sound mind and good intentions can reasonably disagree, right?

Then one of the department stars winds up dead, and Virgil Flowers is brought in to investigate . . . and he soon comes to realize he’s dealing with people who, on this one particular issue, are functionally crazy. Among this group of wildly impassioned, diametrically opposed zealots lurks a killer, and it will be up to Virgil to sort the murderer from the mere maniacs.

Review

Virgil Flowers is back at it again but this time, instead of his usual small town case, he finds himself in the cities investigating a college professor’s death involving a laptop and possibly revolving around an academic war. Things get bloody and with the trail growing cold and leads ending nowhere, it’s time to call a fresh pair of eyes to take a look at the case.

The book starts off from the viewpoint of the professor and his unknown companion, both sneaking around the library for a midnight hookup, in the professor’s carrel, when the professor bumps into someone else who isn’t supposed to be there. Both surprised, the killer takes the moment’s opportunity, with the professor turning his back to call the police, and strikes him down with the professor’s own heavy (12 pounds!) laptop and before fleeing the scene. Of course, an investigation takes place, but eventually the Minneapolis police ends up stuck and Virgil comes in.

This was a pretty good book and had me guessing all the way to the end, though there was one character who kept telling Virgil hints and clues on who he thinks the killer is. Virgil thinks that guy’s profile of the killer is eye-roll worthy (but it does bug him a little) but the character is dead set on his guesses. Thanks to this random character, after 12 books, I have laid down my final answer and was right for once.

Unlike in book 10 where Virgil was running himself in circles with too many leads but not enough motive to drive on, Virgil isn’t as stuck here. The two major characters here are Virgil and the previous cop on the case, Margaret Trane, who is NOT happy to see Virgil. She knows that having been stuck for so long, if Virgil were to dig up any progressive clues, the media would blow right up in her and her department’s faces and deem the Minneapolis police to be incompetent. Virgil suggests that perhaps he could be Trane’s “assistant” and would introduce himself as such so that he could have an excuse to re-interview people Trane and her team had already gone through. Of course, wherever Virgil goes, strange things follows.

“Until you showed up, I was running a nice logical investigation. Somehow, Flowers, you got me up to my hips in weird shit. How’d you do that?”

Suddenly, the investigation takes all sorts of weird turns and new clues are popping up everywhere (though the end explains why new clues were showing up now rather than when Trane had investigated). Besides the academic feud, already known prior to Virgil’s arrival, now there are drugs, sex, blackmail, hackers, and even espionage happening. It reminds me of how Virgil had previously simply gone to investigate a bunch of random dogs and stepped into a meth mine and a crazy school board. I wouldn’t want to be his friend or neighbor, guy’s got weird luck.

As usual, the most adrenaline roaring moments were in the last couple of chapters. That last scene was a pit in the stomach kind of horror and I shiver at the thought of what would have happened if Virgil was just a second later at arriving.

What is unusual is that, compared to the previous books, there were far fewer POV chapters from the killer’s angle. Sure, in the previous books, sometimes the killers are hidden behind aliases, but here, there were only a few glimpses written from the killer’s POV and it left the readers guessing. While I greatly enjoyed reading the thoughts of the bad guy (like in Deep Freeze where the book starts with the killer’s name) I think I actually prefer this style. Instead of a hot and cold game, the readers are left to investigate with Virgil, guessing until the very end, and it’s a lot more fun that way.

There’s plenty of returning characters and with being in the cities, there’s even crossover characters like Del Capslock who I found to be quite the riot! I certainly need more of him! There’s also Jenkins and Shrake, the BCA’s usual go-to thugs who do the muscle work for Virgil (a cop who constantly “forgets” his gun). As always, I find the wit, dialogue, and character interactions to be the most interesting and strong points of the series.

The build up to the climax was great and the last few scenes benefitted from this build up. There were moments where you got a glimpse of the killer, from an outside perspective, and you know how dangerous of a guy he could be. It added to the stress that all of the characters were already feeling because we’re dealing with someone who has nothing left to lose. The most disappointing thing about the killer had been the motive. It’s facepalm worthy. It’s “Are you serious?? Was the prize worth the sentence??” bewildering.

Trane said, “Oh, no. Nope. Nope. Nope. Shut the drawer, I don’t want to see that.”
“Could be laundry detergent,” Virgil said. “You know, like Tide? I could snort a little to see if it is.”
“How much you think?”
“I never worked dope,” Virgil said. “But I’ve seen cocaine, and that’s cocaine. Not much, but we don’t know what he started with.”
“Our murdered boy’s got cocaine stashed in a secret cubbyhole? That’s the cherry on the cake, you know? That’s just fuckin’ perfect. I hope the television people find out about it so they can go berserk.”
“Could be Tide . .

“All right, then. We’ll leave the door open. You develop a problem, just yell.”
“He’s gagged, Del,” Virgil said. “He can’t yell.” Capslock turned back to the man. “If you get in trouble, make some of those strangle sounds. We’ll hear you.”

Time for some golden eggs! Bloody Genius by John Sandford gets…

4½ Shiny Shiny Eggs!

Book Review: Deep Freeze by John Sandford

Book Description

Title: Deep Freeze
Series: Virgil Flowers Book # 10
Author: John Sandford
Edition: Kindle (Libby/Library) & Hardcover
Length: 390 (Kindle) & 391 (Hardcover)
Genre/s: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Police Procedural

Blurb (Goodreads)

Class reunions: a time for memories—good, bad, and, as Virgil Flowers is about to find out, sometimes deadly—in this “New York Times” bestselling thriller from John Sandford.

Virgil knows the town of Trippton, Minnesota a little too well. A few years back, he investigated the corrupt—and as it turned out, homicidal—local school board, and now the town’s back in his view with more alarming news: a woman has been found dead, frozen in a block of ice.

There’s a possibility that it might be connected to a high school class of twenty-five years ago. It has a mid-winter reunion coming up. So, wrapping his coat a little tighter, Virgil begins to dig into decades of traumas, feuds, and bad blood. In the process, one thing becomes increasingly clear to him. It’s true what they say – high school can be murder.

Review

On the day that I’d finished reading this book (06 Feb) I had been at the 70% mark when I’d gone off to do a little writing in my journal first before continuing with the read, stating that with where it was standing, the book’s already at a solid 4.0 but considering that most of my favorite moments in [nearly all of] the Virgil Flowers series comes from the shockingly well written climaxes and final chapters of the book, I wouldn’t be surprised if Deep Freeze ended up the same. It did.

This was a good book, but it started off a bit slow, and damn it, I’ve never seen poor Virgil run himself in circles as much as he did than in this book. In most of his other books (and plenty of mystery books in general) you get glimpses of the answer, which finally breaks through in the very last few chapters. There’s plenty of other times Virgil get stuck trying to crack a case, but in Deep Freeze, he was frozen (pun intended?).

In book ten of the series, Virgil is back in Trippton, Minnesota, where he had previously found himself investigating a meth mill case, dog-napping incident, and faced with a corrupt and murderous school board (yes, all three cases in one town; sounds like a lovely vacation spot, yes?). It’s also where his best friend and fishing buddy, Johnson Johnson lives.

Unlike last time, where he had visited Trippton as a favor to Johnson Johnson, this time, Virgil is called in to investigate the murder of a very wealthy, and soon to be divorced, woman named Gina Hemming. Besides this, his boss, Jon Duncan, is asking him to investigate and aid a private investigator, Margaret Griffin, in tracking down the creators of some sexually modified Barbie and Ken dolls so that she could serve them their cease-and-desist letters and GTFO out of the brilliantly cold Minnesota and head on back to her warm home in California.

The thing about this book, as in many of Sandford’s other books, is that the name of the killer is already handed to you in the first chapter. Hell, it’s the second word into the book. Instead of guessing who the killer is, you get to guess how long it takes for Virgil to find said bad guy and it takes him a WHILE. In a town full of very gossipy, tight-knit, but generally friendly citizens and people, nobody could believe such a crime could exist in their lovely town (except ya know, the crazy school board a while back in the same general neighborhood as the dog-nappers and the meth factory?). With absolutely jack squat to go on, Virgil’s at a loss and no amount of turning up stones would be helping him. What he does end up unearthing is that the crime is related to a high school class from twenty-five years ago, and winds up digging up plenty of very unpleasant things.

But then, you have the other case and it seems the town DOES know about the person and team behind the manufacturing of the Barbies and Kens. There’s a funny running joke in the beginning where just about everyone and their mother lies about knowing the suspected person when Virgil could tell that they’re all lying through their teeth. Still, his priority is the murder and not the dolls, at least until a group of people turn the case personal against Virgil.

Some of my favorite things about the Virgil Flowers series are the people and dialogues, and in Deep Freeze the characters are not short of personality. While we have plenty of recurring characters (Johnson Johnson, Sheriff Purdy, Jenkins and Shrake, not to mention some of the Tripptonites) we also have a new character and this time, she’s from out of state (sunny state of California and oh so ill prepared for the Minnesota blizzard…I mean she arrived in thin-soled flats!). An ex-LA cop turned PI, it’s interesting to see how she investigates things and views people versus Virgil. I liked her at first, intense and cool, but when she showed a bit more of unnecessary violence, I started to dislike her. I didn’t hate this character, but I certainly didn’t enjoy her as much towards the end.

When he got back, the woman had flopped over onto her stomach, bleeding heavily into the snow. Virgil grabbed one wrist, and she tried to push up with her other hand, but Griffin stepped over, put her heel on the woman’s cheekbone, and pushed down. The woman squealed, and Virgil said, “Don’t hurt her,” and Griffin asked, “Why not?”

Virgil said, “She’s hurt bad enough already.” Virgil got the woman’s other wrist and locked it up, and said to Griffin, “Help me get her into the backseat of my truck.”

The rest of the book was a fun ride and while not always full of adrenaline and downright insane events, especially compared to Deadline (the previous book set in Trippton), this book has its perks. For example, I’ve never seen Virgil so lost on what to do before. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, nor were the slow parts, because it feels like everything builds up to a fantastic “Holy shit, I got it!” moment (and indeed it did).

While Deep Freeze stands well enough on its own, unlike the other books, I wouldn’t say it would be the best standalone you could read (if you choose to do so or start the series in this book). Because this book sets in the same town as a previous book had, with the entire town is still ringing in shock from the previous events and long story short, there’s not just nudges towards previous cases, but perhaps even major spoilers for Deadline. Time and time again, people in town will mention the events from Deadline so if you don’t like spoilers much, I’d avoid starting this book until you at least read that book.

“I like your murders. They give you something to think about. In L.A., it was BANG! BANG! BANG!, two dead, one of them a gang member, the other a five-year-old girl on her way to buy a Popsicle. Simple, in-your-face nutcake homicide. Here, you’ve got to ‘detect.’”

“I’m not talking about religion. I’m talking about God,” Virgil said. “I’m a Lutheran minister’s kid, and, believe me, there’s a difference between a religion and God. I sorta cut out the middleman.”

When Virgil was working as a St. Paul homicide cop, he’d known of two separate killings done for single eight balls of cocaine. An eight ball, at the time, was worth maybe a hundred and fifty dollars. Kill somebody for a million? No problem. No fuckin’ problem at all.

Time for some golden eggs! Deep Freeze by John Sandford gets…

4½ Shiny Shiny Eggs!