Rough Country, by John Sandford

Rough Country (Virgil Flowers Series #3) by John Sandford: Book CoverFinished 10-21-09, rating 3.5/5, mystery, pub. 2009

Book #3 in the Virgil Flowers series.

Walking out to the dock, Johnson said, “The old bag kinda climbed my tree.”

“One rule when you’re dealing with people close to a murder victim,” Virgil said.  “Try not to laugh.”

Chapter 2

Virgil Flowers works with Lucas Davenport (the Prey series) in the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, investigating high profile crimes.  When Lucas sends him to solve a crime at a women’s retreat in northern Minnesota, single and always available Virgil, is happily surrounded by women.  But most of them aren’t looking twice at Virgil, they are too busy eyeing each other. 

A successful businesswoman is shot while canoeing and her love life leads him to an all-girl band with a talented singer going places.  The singer, Wendy, has an active love life and a crazy brother and dad, leading Virgil to link another murder to the one of the businesswoman. 

Virgil is a laid back, good looking man who exudes charm and cool and he is also the most successful closer in the Bureau.  The contrast between his humor and sexuality to his quoting Bible verses when the situation fits makes for an interesting character.  I like Virgil and would love to hang out at a bar listening to music with him (and my husband, of course)

This is another solid mystery by Sandford, but I did have an issue with the heavy handed way he dealt with gay women in this one.  I know people use derogatory language for many different groups and it usually doesn’t bother me if it defines the character, but in this case a few too many characters had issues.  And some of the storylines involving gay women seemed stereotypical. 

And for some reason there were numerous breaks in book, the kind that usually tell you the action has ended and you’re going somewhere else.  Except after the break you were back at the same place, with the same people, and still in the middle of conversation.  This didn’t really take enjoyment away from the story, but it did make me wonder what the point was. 

This was a library book.

Wicked Prey, by John Sandford

Wicked Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #19) by Sandford Sandford: Book CoverFinished 5-26-09, rating 3.5/5, thriller, pub. 2009

This is book 19 in the Prey series with Lucas Davenport

“Never done anything to us,” Juliet said, doubtfully.

“Davenport did this to me,” Whitcomb said, whacking his inert legs.  “Set it up.  Started it all.”

“The girl didn’t…”

“Davenport set me up,” Whitcomb said.  He watched the girl disappear into the house.  “I’m gonna get him back.  No fun just shootin’ him.  I want to do him good, and I want him to know what I done, and who done it.”

Chapter 1

 Lucas is back and the 2008 Republican Convention has come to St. Paul.  The police are out in full force trying to keep the politicians and the protesters from hurting each other.  There is a gang of thieves that followed the money to the convention and are planning to rip off these men and women for millions of dollars.  There is also an old nemesis of Lucas that is stalking his teen daughter, Lettie.   

Lucas is still working for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and his old friends are all back to help him when he is charged with finding the gang before anyone else dies.  Lettie is front and center in this book and gets into quite a bit of trouble for a 14 year old.  Instead of telling her dad about the stalker she decides to handle it herself, in part by befriending a hooker. 

The many storylines of this book keep it moving at a fast pace.  This fast pace also takes some of the focus from Lucas and I was disappointed in that.  Lucas is one of my favorite characters and I want him front and center!  I think that by giving Lettie more time and showing us what kind of messes she gets herself into, we can look forward to more from this precocious teen. 

I liked this latest installment, but it wasn’t one of my favorites.  I wanted more Lucas.  Also, the storyline involving Lettie did seem a bit much for a 14 year old girl on her bike.  But the suspense was good.  The detective work was good. And I will pick up the next installment next May as soon as it comes out.

A note about the language…This is a police novel with many degenerates.  The conversations do have lots of course language.  If you can’t get past it, these are not the books for you.

After some thought I have to say that while you don’t have to read these in order, you would enjoy them more if you at least tried.  The first one in the series is Rules of Prey.  Also here is a link to Sandford’s website which lists them all in order for you.  I love this series and recommend it if you like gritty detective novels.

Phantom Prey, by John Sandford

Cover ImageFinished 6-16-08, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 2008

Cop turned investigator, Lucas Davenport, is back in his 18th novel.  This time he’s investigating the Goth scene after a wealthy young woman who fancies herself Goth goes missing.  The mother of the missing girl is friends with Weather, Lucas’s wife, and she leans on Lucas to find her daughter. 

Almost as soon as Lucas begins, three more Goths are killed with little time between.  And when Lucas is shot, he knows that he is onto something big.  There was also a secondary investigation involving a bad man named Siggy and his pregnant girlfriend, Heather.  It was this secondary story that I liked the most.

I’m a big fan of this series, but this one was not one of my favorites.  It was good, but it didn’t draw me in as quickly as it usually does.  And there a distracting amount of colons used in the book.  I know that seems weird, but if you read it let me know if you saw it too.  And the story with Del and Cheryl was a little predictable.  I highly recommend the series and I always think it’s better if you start a series at the beginning (which would be Rules of Prey).

Dark Of The Moon, by John Sandford

Cover ImageFinished audio on 6-4-08, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 2007

This is a fast paced mystery featuring BCA officer Virgil Flowers from Sandford’s popular Prey series.  Virgil is sent to investigate a murder in the small town of Bluestem, Minnesota and while there more dead bodies pile up.  Virgil is old friends with the sheriff, Stryker, and in bed with Stryker’s sister, Joan, within a few days.  Virgil doesn’t know who to trust or who to believe and he must wade through a whole town of suspects.

Virgil had occasional check-ins with Lucas Davenport from the Prey novels, but I much prefer Virgil as a secondary character in those novels.  Jason and I listened to this on our way to and from Atlantic City and we were both laughing by the last cd because Virgil had not eliminated a single suspect in the the first 8 cds!  The story kept moving and I enjoyed the reader a lot, but this is only an average thriller.  Read the Prey series for great reading.