Saturday, August 25, 2018

Detective Virgil Flowers Chases a Case from Minnesota Back to the War in Vietnam

This is the second entry in John Sandford's series featuring Virgil Flowers, an investigator with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Virgil is an unconventional detective, who looks more like a surfer than a gifted investigator. He wears his blond hair down to his shoulders, dresses in tee shirts bearing the names of often-obscure rock bands, and rarely carries a gun.

Virgil loves to fish, writes articles for outdoor magazines, and often tows his boat behind his pickup as he roams about the rural Minnesota countryside, chasing killers. He also loves women and is attracted to lots of them, many of whom return his interest. His principal method of investigating crimes involves walking around and talking to lots of people, and out of these conversations a solution usually occurs, often with deadly consequences.

This case begins when a man walking his dog is killed by a sniper who is assisted by a spotter. The body is then left in front of a veterans' memorial in Stillwater, Minnesota, with a lemon stuck in the victim's mouth. Several other men are killed in the same fashion and left at other veterans' monuments around the state. Virgil discovers that the victims had connections back to the war in Vietnam, and that becomes the thread that he will follow through to the end of the chase. (This book was published in 2008, thirty-five years after the events in Vietnam, and the victims are middle-aged men.)

Truth to tell, the plot is pretty far-fetched, but that doesn't really matter here. Most people read these books in order to spend a few hours in the company of "That F***in' Flowers," and it's always a joy to do so. Virgil's boss, Lucas Davenport, makes several cameo appearances here as to Shrake and Jenkins, two other members of Davenport's crew, and it's fun to see them all in action together. A very entertaining novel.

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