virgil-flowers

Escape Clause

Book Review

Virgil Flowers, Book 9

Okay, book nine in the Virgil Flowers series. This one did not actually have beagles in it. It did, however have rare tigers in it. Does that count?

The two sentence summary is "Two rare Amur tigers are catnapped, and f---in' Flowers is assigned to the case. In true Virgil Flowers fashion, other things happen, though the case is resolved in a crazy mess." I crack me up.

Once again, the plot is shallow. In this one, however, Flowers seems more human: he doesn't have everything figured out in the first 43% of the book (unlike in the previous book). He catches a number of lucky breaks to move forward in the case, otherwise he's bored (though, Sandford doesn't do a great job at expressing the weight of boredom and waiting, summarizing them in a sentence here and there as "He was bored"). The bad guy is just plain weird. I have to admit not understanding said bad guy's mental state, but nothing's new about that.

The banter wasn't as quick in the book as in previous books. I laughed out loud only once in the book. And there were a lot of references to Prey books, which, hey, might sell more books for Sandford or develop the Flowers universe more. Maybe. In reality, it made me feel I was reading a filler book instead of its own stand-alone book.

Not one of Sandford's best Flowers books, it's also not bad enough to say this is book one of the two bad in a row that will cause me to stop reading a series. If you're reading the Flowers books, continue.

Deadline (Virgil Flowers)

Book Review

Virgil Flowers, Book 8

Okay, finally, I have finished the publish Virgil Flowers series. All eight books. I can finally go back to reading the the "boring" technical books I have started. About time.

This book was fun. As typical, Flowers ("that f'ing Flowers") has multiple crimes going on, and he is investigating them all at the same time. We learn more about Johnson Johnson in this book, which is great. No fishing, but lots of bad guys. There's a murder (or a few) and one point where we find out, though only briefly, that Flowers is human.

The odd thing about this book is that Flowers pretty much had everything figured out by 43% of the way into the book. Yet, the rest of the ride, the remaining 57% was still engaging.

I laughed out loud many times, with the dialog in the book, reading some of it to the people around me because it was so amusing. Mom commented to me that she had laughed out loud with this book, and it was her favorite Virgil Flowers book, so, yeah, it's recommended. The plot is shallow but engaging. The dialog is amusing, quick-witted, and entertaining. Having read the previous 7 books helps with some of the references in this book, but isn't required.

Besides, this book had beagles in it. What's not to love?

Recommended.

Storm Front (Virgil Flowers)

Book Review

Virgil Flowers, Book 7

Okay, so, this one was a twist on the f---in' Flowers plot lines: there was no murder to investigate. I rather like that about this book, and the storyline. It was an adventure, a high-speed car chase. While some people were shot at, no one died. What I found most peculiar, and delightful, is that everyone in the book specifically didn't want to kill people. There wasn't a hair-trigger "let's go kill me some people!" reaction that seems prevalent in most mysteries / adventure / action / westerns books. It becomes a little uncomfortable because, well, it's a thought process so far removed from mine that it's, eh, yeah, discomforting.

I enjoyed this book. It ended amusingly. I recommend this book if you've liked the series so far.

That all said, what really hit home for me in these books is the level of communication that Flowers has with his boss, Davenport (who is, I'm told, the central character in Sandford's Prey series of books). Flowers keeps his boss in the loop on his activities, relies on his boss for help (because, really, that's what a manager is supposed to do: enable his employee to do his best), helps his boss when he can, and delivers results.

I don't know why I hadn't noticed it in previous books, it really stood out for me in this one. I like it. I don't like telling people (read: leads and bosses) bad news, but if I don't tell them, they can't help me at the exact point I need the most help.

I think, along with my super-powers speaking shirt, I am going to start using my Flowers over-communicator. I like that personality facet of Flowers.

Even if he is a fictional character, I can still be inspired by him.

Mad River

Book Review

Virgil Flowers, Book 6

Okay, this Virgil Flowers book is not a mystery at all. From the first paragraph, we have the villains' names and their actions. We don't know exactly why they are doing what they are doing, but we know who they are and what they are doing. So, no mystery with a big reveal at the end about the bad things, just one giant action scene.

Eh, that accurately describes it, one long car chase.

Which isn't a bad thing. I remember reading Gerald's Game years ago and thinking, "Okay, King is a good author if he's able to make the story of a woman hand-cuffed to a bed for two days an interesting story." I had a similar reaction here, in that, okay, it's a 6 hour car chase by Virgil Flowers of three relatively dim-witted small-town teenagers (with a note in the book that half the population is dumber than average, which isn't necessarily true unless there is an evenly mirrored distribution of intelligence about a reflection point at the average, which there isn't, and also a discussion way off point here, but the note is in the book. Now, if we were talking median instead of average...), and, yet, it is still interesting.

Best to read that previous sentence without the content between the parentheses.

So, yeah, we have a 400 page car chase and a crap tonne of murders. Not the usual one maybe two (okay, four) that seem to be in every Flowers book. We start off with five and it gets worse from there. Of course the book's back cover tells us this, which is why, after someone has already recommended a book to me, I don't read the two sentence summaries on book jackets. Too often, they ruin the book.

Shock Wave

Book Review

Virgil Flowers, Book 5

Once again, no intention of reading a book today, much less a book in its entirety, but travelling to devObjective today meant I had time on my hands, so I spent it reading (I know, shock). It helps to have the first seven books of the series in some variation of paper form. I have to say I'm rather glad I have a physical copy of these book instead of just digital. While I appreciate the digital format for convenience, I do so love the experience of reading books in physical form.

This Virgil Flowers book had a lot of death in it, though less than the previous one, and a lot of explosions. And, at the risk of giving away the ending, not a lot of sex. I found this last part to be somewhat of a relief, to be honest, since, well, Reacher had a different woman in every book and at what point do you just roll your eyes and think, "Really? Just how many STDs DO you have?"

Anyway, the book. The plot was great. I really liked the reveal in this one, as it had a number of clues but not enough that you the reader, nor Flowers the hero, realized what was going on until pretty much the end. Enough redirection that you knew something was up, but not enough to give up reading. The humour in this one was good, still with the quick wit, which I enjoyed. I like how Sandford is portraying the religious angst of a preacher's son who believes in a god that doesn't particularly care about the day-to-day of his believers, and really like a number of the biblical references included in the books. I've looked up a number of the quotes, reading them in the KJV translation, and thought about them. Completely fascinating, when they are taken 2000 years and who knows how many translations later.

Bad Blood

Book Review

Virgil Flowers, Book 4

Okay, I hadn't actually been intending on reading any fiction book this weekend. Or at least, not starting any new books. That didn't go over very well, as I picked up the fourth Virgil Flowers book last night at 10pm and started reading. And kept reading. So much for finishing off books I've already started.

Again, I enjoyed this Flowers book. It was a bit different than the previous ones in that who did what was figured out pretty much in the middle of the book. Such a different take than most mystery books which have the bad guy revealed near the end, with only a small wrap-up after the reveal. No, Sandford has the Flowers books' mysteries figured out in the middle, maybe 2/3 of the way through, and lots of fumbling around, working to prove the case, wrapping up the details, and dealing with the aftermath of the arrest or solution.

It's a different twist on things. No idea how realistic it is in real life. Real life is mostly boring, with interesting things between. Digression, though.

I enjoyed the book, and will keep reading the Flowers books.

Rough Country

Book Review

Virgil Flowers, Book 3

Continuing in the Virgil Flowers series (I finished it too fast to even put it on my in progress reading list), this book starts out with f---ing Flowers on a fishing trip, with a murder happening on the next lake over (-ish). One of the things I do like about this series is that it's like like a kabillion crimes happen in a 10 mile radius. Minnesota is big, the number of crimes happening in this series isn't that unreasonable. Of course, the stunningly high solve rate does require a suspension of disbelief, but that's okay, because it's commented upon, and Flowers actually makes mistakes. Shock.

As appears to be a trend, there's a woman-to-have-sex-with in this story, which seems to be a thing in this mystery adventure series like the Reacher series. I'm relatively unsurprised, as I mentioned, given that, well, have to keep a reader interested and entertained. This book's conquest is a little more difficult timing-wise, which provides amusement. The conversations are entertaining, the need for sleep reasonable and the non-super-human antics are refreshing. Flowers doesn't even want to carry a gun, which, in my mind, makes him more likeable.

I'm still enjoying this series, and will keep reading until my stack of them runs out. Nothing like an inexpensive borrow from the library to encourage binge reading.

Recommended.

Heat Lightning

Book Review

Virgil Flowers, Book 2

Moving right along with the Virgil Flowers series, I have to say that I am tickled I'm back up to 10 books a month by finishing this one. So far, both of the fuckin' Flowers books (a reference made inside the books) have been about 410-ish pages long, making them about a 5.5 hour read for me. Lounging around on vacation, these are just about right. And, I can get them from the condo association's library for free. Win!

What I am liking about these books so far, other than the fast-paced, amusing dialog, is the fact that Flowers isn't right the first time. He makes mistakes (OMG, unlike other cops) and he takes a wrong turn, and he guesses. Okay, fine, the author has written him to be human instead of super-human. The man needs to sleep, the man needs to pee. It's great.

This particular book had a few cases where I thought, "If the character finds these things weird, why doesn't he suspect this person?" And you know what? Hindsight is often clearer than live-sight, and we're the reader so OF COURSE we know what's going on. Except it isn't always clearer, and we don't always know what's going on, and the good guy doesn't always win. One could say in real life, the good guy rarely wins, it's the victor who just claims to be the good guy and writes history.

I enjoyed this book, ripped through it fast enough, even though the mystery was a little thin with some obvious plot holes. If I were giving stars, which I'm not, this one would be 4 of 5, and I would definitely say, keep reading.

Dark of the Moon

Book Review

Virgil Flowers, Book 1

A couple days ago, Mom had commented to me that I should start the John Sandford Virgil Flowers series. She had read them and enjoyed them, the lead character's wit and humour entertaining her. I had looked (casually, not intently) in the condo association's lending library for the first one, Dark of the Moon, without success and didn't think much of it. So, when Mom and I were at the giant bookstore in Kona yesterday, she found the book, and handed it to me to buy. Bookstore. Recommended book. Place to donate the book when I was done so that I didn't have to lug it home at the end of my vacation. All of this was leading nicely to a "Yes, please."

Boy, was I glad I bought it. I started it last night, and finished it today. As is with most vacations that aren't ultimate frisbee or safari or Antarctica bound, I had a day of sick. That would be today, so having a book to read was fantastic. In this case, also very entertaining.