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Adventure In Reading - John Sandford - Heat Lightning
The Author And This Book
John Sandford is an award winning journalist. He was honored in particular for his series of articles that appeared in 1985. He worked as a journalist in Miami and Minneapolis from 1971 through 1990 when he left journalism to pursue fiction writing fulltime. He originally published books under his real name - John Camp - but with his success in book writing, his publisher asked him to create a pseudonym and he has since published as John Sandford.
This book was published in 2008 and was the second in the Virgil Flowers Series. It has about 390 pages. He had previously published the Kidd Series and the Prey Series. Virgil Flowers played a supporting role in some of the Prey Series.
Virgil is a member of the BCA in Minnesota. As such he is involved in the investigation of major crimes throughout the state. This story begins with a dramatic murder and staging of the murder victim. The victim has a lemon stuffed in his mouth that is kept there with duct tape and the body is placed in a sitting position at a veteran's memorial. Almost dismissed as a one time occurrence, a second murder occurs with identical staging.
Lucas Davenport (the main character in the Prey Series) is occasionally in this story but is there mainly to encourage Virgil to not be reticent about his brashness and to act upon his convictions. The other recurring detectives on the staff at BCA from the Prey Series are also in the book.
Several beautiful women wend there way through the book. All of them seem to become physically and/or emotionally entangled with Virgil. Some of these entanglements advance his investigation. Some of them hinder his investigation. However, Virgil likes to fall in love with all of them.
Virgil's brashness and his drive to solve the crime at least in part causes several more murders to take place that are not staged. A couple murders occur that would have been staged if it were possible.
Throughout the book, Virgil is the irrepressible man that men think "I wish I would have done that in that situation." or "Why wouldn't I have thought of that." or "Maybe the key to attracting women is to be my own masculine self." Virgil does appeal.
The Utecht father and son are both dead. The father died a natural death in China. The son died an unnatural death in Minnesota. The father was found in an alley and it appeared he had died as a bum from a heart attack. The son was shot in the back of the head in Minnesota, had a lemon stuck in and taped to his mouth, and positioned at the base of a Veteran's Memorial.
The incident in Minnesota did not gain much more attention than the incident in China.
Virgil was contemplating his most recent tryst when the call came in about Barry Sanderson, the second victim. Sanderson had been found at the base of a Veteran's Memorial in Stillwater, Minnesota. With impending national attention, the murders - now two - began to attract the attention of the BCA, the state agency Virgil and Lucas work for.
Although Virgil never actually leaves Minnesota (except for a brief excursion near the end of the book) the scope of the book expands to include Vietnam and China where the first death and other events occurred that were the cause of the murders.
Virgil wears clothing and has a personal appearance that belie his ability to dominate. Several beautiful women appear in the story and Virgil has difficulty not falling in love with him. He recognizes the difference between love and casual sex and with at least three of the woman in this book, love blooms.
It begins to become clear that one of the women is involved with the murders and the tenor of the investigation changes and, if possible, becomes more intense. The book ends with a bang bang shoot-em-up and most of the bad guys are killed. As with several of John Sandford's books, some of the bad guys get away.
John Sandford's writes books that are tightly woven stories that proceed step by step to its climax. And, as with at least some of his books, the climax is logically correct but perhaps not what the reader expects.
This is another outstanding example of the author's abilities and as such gets at 10 rating on my scale of 1 to 10.