In Storm Front, Virgil Flowers' case revolves around an ancient artifact.

An ancient artifact attracts a lot of attention in this delightful Virgil Flowers novel.

The lot of the thriller writer is challenging. If you’re writing an ongoing series, how do you keep creating fresh new stories that readers will find engaging? Take, for example, Virgil Flowers of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Virgil is forced to carry out his investigations in a single American state. So, how can you work in Israeli agents, Turkish thugs, and an ancient artifact? Well, John Sandford found a way. You’ll see it all spelled out in Storm Front, the seventh in the delightful series of Virgil Flowers detective novels.

The pleasures of reading the Virgil Flowers books are many. They’re cracking good stories, for one. The dialogue sparkles and is often hilarious. The characters are typically off-key and intriguing to a fault. Including Virgil himself, of course. Where else would you find a top-flight detective who is a fisherman and hunter, hates guns, has a successful side career as a magazine writer, and beds a beautiful woman in every novel?

Storm Front (Virgil Flowers #7) by John Sandford (2013) 385 pages @@@@ (4 out of 5)

OK, so the story in Storm Front is unlikely at best. An aging Lutheran pastor from Mankato is dying of cancer. On an archaeological dig in Israel, he steals a car and spirits off a valuable ancient artifact and heads back to Minnesota. He is pursued by an agent from the Israeli Antiquities Authority and a pair of Turkish thugs whose motives are entirely unclear. In fact, it will be a challenge for Virgil to uncover everyone’s motives in this unusual and exceedingly puzzling case. Of course, he will do so in short order, because Virgil always gets his “man.” And you’ll want to keep an eye on that Israeli agent, who is, naturally, a beautiful woman.

Storm Front is not the best novel in the Virgil Flowers series, but it’s a delight nonetheless.

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