Tag Archives: Buried Prey

That F-in’ Flowers

Good heavens, that John Sandford is prolific.  I discovered this author in the early 1990s, when his “Prey” series, featuring Minnesota cop cum videogame developer Lucas Davenport, was new.  Since then, Sandford has published 21 in that series (Buried Prey the most recent), as well as four books in the Kidd series, two standalones, and five recent books with private eye Virgil Flowers.  (You can read my review of Bad Blood, a previous Flowers book, here.)

I got the ARC for the new one in the Flowers series, Shock Wave, from Murder and Mayhem in Muskego and it’s hot off the press with an October 4, 2011 publication date.  (Brief MMM plug:  Fun conference, $30 reg fee includes lunch, and my book bag had easily over $100 of new and not-yet-released mysteries.  Awesome.)

I picture Flowers as a young Jimmy Buffet, all inappropriate Hawaiian shirts, long blonde hair, and a devastasting way with the ladies.  Cops who come in contact with Flowers – Davenport’s friend and longtime off-the-record colleague – call him “That fuckin’ Flowers,” primarily because he’s often at the center of any off-kilter investigation.

My Virgil.

Shock Wave has a ripped-from-the-headlines story, wherein big-box chain Pyemart wants to come into a small Minnesota town, upsetting the ecological and socioeconomic balance.   Somebody’s trying to keep them out.  With bombs.  It’s up to Virgil to figure it out.

As always, there’s a potential love interest.  (Amusingly, he explains the sobriquet “that f’in’ Flowers” with faux modesty, explaining he has a certain popularity with the ladies.)  Plot twists and characters who are not what they seem.  Plenty of breezy fun balanced by actual and potential mayhem.

I enjoyed Shock Wave.  Sandford fans will, too, as will anyone who’s looking for a solid PI story with amusing characters.  It’s not deep, it’s not insightful, but it’s fun and perfect for an afternoon’s read, preferably with a warm beverage and a dog by your side.

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John Sandford’s shockeroo… and don’t forget Lit Fest

John Sandford celebrates the maturity of his “prey” series – 21 novels featuring Minnesota cop Lucas Davenport – with a look back at the past.  Construction workers have uncovered the plastic-sheathed bodies of two little girls under a concrete slab, and by so doing, uncover an episode in Davenport’s past that has nagged at him for many years.

And thus the reader slides back to 1985, getting a view of Lucas as a uniform cop, sharp, headstrong, and willing to bend the rules, but still young enough to be willing to set aside his own instincts for the advice of wiser and more experienced colleagues… plus the promise of the career path he desires.  It wasn’t really a quid pro quo, but it was definitely understood that making waves wouldn’t do.  It suited everyone’s interests to consider the case closed with the death of the main suspect.

This is Lucas pre-Weather, pre-kids, and well before the big bucks that came his way as a video game developer.  In fact, in Buried Prey, Lucas is fooling around with his second game and isn’t expecting any big payoff.  He’s still a devil with the women and a loyal friend.

As I mentioned, the girls’ kidnapping was closed when the suspect died, but the mystery lived on.  The discovery of the girls’ bodies led to the realization that the suspect couldn’t have committed the crime, and Davenport’s left with a sick feeling… not only did he miss the opportunity to solve the case 25  years ago, but there’s every likelihood that the real bad guy has been out there, attacking little girls, year after year.

And so he has.  Davenport rejoins his old colleagues to unearth the truth and finds several cases with the same MO… including one where the girl got away.  The killer, cunning but not all that smart, is backed into a corner and is forced to kill again to cover his tracks.  Despite his deep-seated preference for knives, he comes out guns blazing and there’s a resulting shocking death (I’ll say no more). Needless to say, the criminal gets his comeuppance.

Buried Prey will be a hit with Sandford fans and new readers alike.  Although I’ve read and enjoyed the other books in the series, you don’t need to read them all in order to understand the relationships or the backstory in this one.  It’s fun to see the young Lucas… like many crime novel heroes, he has a tendency to be smarter, suaver, and bigger than life.  In this one, his flaws show.

Hey, Lit Fest Tomorrow!  Be sure to go!  I’m totally excited except for the fact that the weather forecast has changed and now SUNDAY is the sunny day.  But I’ve got tickets to stuff and I’m planning to meet my long-time friend Anne there, so I will just stick an umbrella in my tote bag (along with an extra book bag) and get myself on the el.  It will be fun no matter what.