Tag Archives: Virgil Flowers

More fun with that f*in’ Flowers


John Sandford

So, everybody knows John Sandford, right?  Tall, rugged-looking guy, Pultizer-prize winning journalist, modest demeanor, writes about fourteen books a year, all of which end up on the New York Times best seller list?  (Okay, it’s his real-life persona, John Roswell Camp, who won the Pulitzer and he doesn’t actually publish fourteen books a year – it’s just 31 novels since 1989.)  He’s got a new one out, and it features Virgil Flowers.   If Lucas Davenport is the urbane, big-money family man, Virgil’s his rough-edged, woman-loving cousin.

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey

In this post, I likened Virgil to Jimmy Buffet.  I also think Matthew McConaughey could take the movie role, slipping easily into Flowers’ classic rock-n-roll T-shirts.  (Click here for a list of said t-shirts.)

Now there’s a new Virgil Flowers novel out, just as rollicking and convoluted as ever.  stormf rontStorm Front features a dying college professor who steals a priceless – and potentially world-changing – ancient biblical artifact from a dig in Israel.  Professor Elijah Jones sets course immediately for Mankato, Minnesota, home territory for our own Virgil Flowers.  Virgil’s busy.  He’s got buxom criminals to investigate.  Closely.

Jones’ goal is to ransom the artifact to the highest bidder, thereby securing the future of his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife, who is going to need a lot of very expensive care after her husband’s death.  Of course, this being a Virgil Flowers novel, there’s a whole cast of unusual characters, including a faux-historian from the Israel Department of Antiquities (Yael Aronov One) who’s so fit and kick-ass that we’re not surprised too much when we find out she’s really probably from Mossad, the real Yael (known as Yael-Two, and much dumpier and home-loving than Yael One).  Also: Tag Bauer, an enterprising TV showboat of a “field archeologist,” various spies and hit-men, the above-named buxom criminal with previously unknown ties to Elijah Jones, and Jones’ daughter, Ellen, who insists that her father, despite his end-of-life larceny, is not a bad man.

As always, several of the characters are charmingly over the top,  the reader is required to wend her way through a labyrinthine plot, and all’s well that end’s well at the conclusion.  Some folks don’t care for this:  on Amazon today, although there are 206 five-star reviews, there are also 72 one-star reviews.   Put me solidly in the three-star territory… you’re not going to learn a lesson of any kind in a Virgil Flowers novel, and there’s no character development to speak of, but you are going to have a heck of a ride.

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.