Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Virgil Flowers Is Forced to confront a Gang of Dognappers and a Rabid School Board

This is another hugely entertaining entry in John Sandford's series featuring Virgil Flowers of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Virgil most often deals with crimes committed in the state's rural areas and usually arrives towing his boat behind his truck, just in case time allows for a little fishing.

The book opens when Vigil is awakened in the middle of the night by a frantic call from his friend, Johnson Johnnson. (Johnson's father named his sons after outboard motors, and Evinrude was already taken.) Someone is kidnapping valuable dogs in Johnson's hometown of Trippton in Buchanan County, and the townspeople are in an uproar. So Johnson convinces Virgil to come take a look into the matter.

Just as Virgil arrives, the Buchanan County Consolidated School Board finishes it's public business for the evening and goes into executive session to discuss a personnel matter. Once the school security officer ensures that the building is clear, the Board commences its discussion which centers on the question of whether or not they should kill a reporter who's been poking his nose into matters that the Board would rather not be made public. After a minimal amount of discussion, the members vote unanimously to instruct the school security officer to shoot the reporter while he's out for his nightly run. Meeting adjourned.

When the reporter's body is discovered, Virgil suddenly has a second investigation to conduct. The rest of the book details Virgil's efforts to solve the crimes and time is of the essence as more animals are dognapped and more bodies pile up. The plot moves swiftly and, as always, Sandford has created a great cast of characters. At times the book is laugh-out-loud funny and, as a person who has attended way more than his fair share of school board meetings, I loved watching Virgil pit his skills against the members of the Buchanan County School Board.

The action builds to a great climax and this book is sure to appeal to the fans of "That F****n' Flowers and to anyone who enjoys a crime story that is very well told. I can hardly wait for the next one.

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