Virgil Flowers considers himself a “shitkicker” and tends to dress, talk, and act like one, favoring T-shirts from rock bands, cowboy boots, fly fishing, fast motorboats, and, shall we say, casual language. Here he is in conversation with one of his suspects in Shock Wave, a trade school instructor:
Virgil: “So, where you at?”
Suspect: “You don’t need the ‘at’ at the end of that sentence. If you’d asked, ‘Where are you?’ that would have been fine.”
Virgil: “I’m colloquial.”
Virgil sometimes uses words like “colloquial” because, in reality, he has a college degree (in ecological science) and a scary-high IQ, and, though everyone seems to comment that he looks nothing like a cop, he is the most successful detective in the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).
Shock Wave (Virgil Flowers #5) by John Sandford @@@@ (4 out of 5)
In Shock Wave, the fifth in John Sanders’ Virgil Flowers series, Virgil is sent to investigate a fatal bombing at the site of a future big-box store that is carefully positioned not to be a Wal-Mart even though it clearly is. There, he encounters the founder of the Wal-Mart-like chain, an irascible old man with a million-dollar secretary and $32 billion net worth, along with the mayor and members of the city council of a small town in the far reaches of Minnesota. As the novel’s first bombing is followed by a second and then, in quick succession, another, Virgil and the local sheriff race to identify the bomber — and, along the way, come to grips with the corruption on the city council that gave the green light for the store to be built.
John Sandford is a master of novels like this. In addition to the Virgil Flowers series, he has published 21 entries in the “Prey” series featuring Virgil’s boss, Lucas Davenport, 4 more in another short-lived crime series, plus two unrelated novels and a couple of nonfiction books as well — starting in 1988. If your skills run more to language than to mathematics, please note that Sandford (a pseudonym for a former Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist) has been writing an average of about 1-1/2 books per year. Others are more prolific, but Sandford’s plots are invariably inventive, his characters three-dimensional, and his prose eminently readable.
For additional reading
You might also enjoy my posts:
- Top 10 mystery and thriller series;
- 20 excellent standalone mysteries and thrillers; and
- 20 outstanding detective series from around the world.
For an abundance of great mystery stories, go to Top 20 suspenseful detective novels (plus 200 more). And if you’re looking for exciting historical novels, check out Top 10 historical mysteries and thrillers reviewed here (plus 100 others).
And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, plus a guide to this whole site, on the Home Page.