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Bad Blood: a Virgil Flowers novel Hardcover – September 21, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When 19-year-old Bob Tripp hits farmer Jacob Flood in the head with a T-ball bat at the outset of Sandford's exciting fourth thriller to feature Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent Virgil Flowers (after Rough Country), Tripp's subsequent attempt to make murder look like an accident fails. The morning after Tripp's arrest, he's found hanging in his cell. Warren County sheriff Lee Coakley seeks Flowers's help to investigate what role, if any, deputy Jim Crocker, the officer on duty at the jail at the time, played in Tripp's death. A link to the earlier murder of a young woman leads Flowers and Coakley to members of a small church with strange ways. As the pair become aware of the magnitude of the unspeakable crimes (rape, child abuse, incest) behind the deaths, they search desperately for a lever to pry open what turns out to be Flowers's biggest, if perhaps most unlikely, case to date. Author tour.
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From Booklist

Bobby Tripp was a good kid, working at a grain mill, saving for college. But he killed Jacob Flood, a local farmer delivering his harvest; and then, after Bobby was arrested, he hung himself in jail. The sheriff, Lee Coakley, reaches out for help to Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. She gets Virgil Flowers, the throwback hippie with the hair, the rock-band T-shirts, and a rep as a lockdown investigator. Coakley and Flowers catch a whiff of sexual abuse involving Bobby’s girlfriend. The abuse angle widens and is centered on a local church, but the congregation closes ranks with iron uniformity. Flowers and Coakley get a line on a woman who escaped the influence of the church years before. She becomes the key to the case, opening a Pandora’s box of multiple murders, criminal behavior among the sheriff’s deputies, and revelations of deviancy that go back generations. As usual, Sandford delivers a great mystery with action, suspense, humor, and, yes, sex. Virgil always gets his man, but he also gets the girl. Good reading, especially in the absence of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser. --Wes Lukowsky

Product Details

  • Series: A Virgil Flowers Novel (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399156909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399156908
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (560 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Sandford was born John Camp on February 23, 1944, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He attended the public schools in Cedar Rapids, graduating from Washington High School in 1962. He then spent four years at the University of Iowa, graduating with a bachelor's degree in American Studies in 1966. In 1966, he married Susan Lee Jones of Cedar Rapids, a fellow student at the University of Iowa. He was in the U.S. Army from 1966-68, worked as a reporter for the Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian from 1968-1970, and went back to the University of Iowa from 1970-1971, where he received a master's degree in journalism. He was a reporter for The Miami Herald from 1971-78, and then a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer-Press from 1978-1990; in 1980, he was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, and he won the Pulitzer in 1986 for a series of stories about a midwestern farm crisis. From 1990 to the present he has written thriller novels. He's also the author of two non-fiction books, one on plastic surgery and one on art. He is the principal financial backer of a major archaeological project in the Jordan Valley of Israel, with a website at In addition to archaeology, he is deeply interested in art (painting) and photography. He both hunts and fishes. He has two children, Roswell and Emily, and one grandson, Benjamin. His wife, Susan, died of metastasized breast cancer in May, 2007, and is greatly missed.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

135 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Richard Cumming on September 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In "Bad Blood" Virgil Flowers is brought in to investigate a strange murder at a rural Minnesota grain elevator. A farmer had pulled in with his truck of grain. The young man working at the elevator retrieves his baseball bat and sneaks up behind the farmer. He clobbers the unsuspecting man then tries to make his death look like an accident, but this killing was clearly premeditated. Flowers is called in to this area where murders rarely occur by the new sheriff, an attractive woman named Lee Coakley. There's clearly a spark struck between them from the start.

But no time for romance yet. Crimes must be investigated. Within the first 40 pages there are 4 deaths, the farmer, then the young man who supposedly killed the farmer, then the cop who was guarding the young man in jail. Flowers is puzzling over these sudden deaths when he hears about a 4th death; an unsolved murder of a young woman that took place down south of the town, just across the Iowa state line, a year ago. That killing looked like a sex crime. Virgil is intrigued.

He discovers a key link between these 4 deaths: every one of the dead belonged to a mysterious religious cult. Flowers digs deeper and begins to suspect that this "religion" conceals a vast and enduring front for widespread child abuse. No spoilers here; I'll leave the joys of Virgil's sleuthing and his budding relationship with the sheriff for readers to savor for themselves.

Sandford performs a bit of literary derring-do here. He has his wise cracking, fun loving Virgil trying to solve a case that might involve a most horrific network of pedophiles. Child abuse is not funny. Virgil is. The combo actually works. Virgil lightens it up just enough to make all the dark parts not quite as sickening.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By carol irvin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I read the latest Lucas Davenport novel by sandford, which also came out this year. Although I enjoyed it, it had a problem with being a bit all over the map with plots, subplots and too many characters. Thus, I thought Sandford was winding down in his writing career. This, the best of the Virgil Flowers' novels, shows I couldn't have been more wrong. This book is very tightly focused, has just the right amount of characters and has a terrific plot to boot.

As usual, this is set in a section of Minnesota which is small town, rural and in which people are leading out of the mainstream lives. Last novel it was a town full of vacationing lesbians. This time it is a religious cult which has been home grown since the 1800s, which involves extreme sexual deviance. Suddenly, the town goes from one murder to four murders. All murder victims had some contact with the cult. This brings the state Criminal Bureau into town along with its lead roving detective, Virgil Flowers, who walks around town more like the roadie for some touring rock group than an investigator hunting down a cult. That he forgets to wear his gun most of the time is part of the problem and why he always has to drag out identification.

Many of the Virgil Flowers' books have a terrific shootout, like the OK Corral, occur at some point. This book has an absolute doozy of one, an all time high. Also one of the best vengeance scenes I've ever read.

This is Sandford at his best. I read it in 24 hours.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By kindle addict on September 24, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
The Virgil Flowers series is a well-written, interesting, captivating series. Virgil is a lawman in Minnesota and gets involved in big cases. This one is about the separate but intertwined murders of four people, all of whom are involved in a small, fundamentalist, local religion which the members keep very private. Some of the members are involved in incest, rape, and sexual deviancy with children. It is up to Virgil and a local female sheriff to solve the murders and to save the children of the religious group who are being abused. John Sanford's writing is very good; he also writes the Prey series, and the Virgil Flowers series is a spinoff of the Prey series. This book held my attention all the way through and already has me salivating for the next in the series. The formatting for the Kindle is excellent. I highly recommend this book and series.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By michael a. draper VINE VOICE on December 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In southern Minnesota, Robert Tripp, an employee at a grain company, kills Jacob Flood, a local farmer. When Tripp is questioned by the police, Sheriff Lee Coakley breaks his story and jails him. That night, Tripp is murdered in his cell.

When Sheriff Coakley learns this, she suspects that one of her men, Jim Crocker, is involved. Because of the internal politics, she calls in investigator Virgil Flowers, from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

When Virgil goes to Crocker's home to question him, he finds Crocker murdered and made to look like he committed suicide. This area of Minnesota has very few murders and Virgil thinks that they must be connected.

Virgil looks at the three murders and is informed that a forth victim, a young teenage girl, Kelly Baker, was found in a cemetery.

In attempting to tie the murders together, Virgil finds that Tripp was gay and that Baker had some extreme sexual activity and abuse prior to her death.

One of the first people he speaks to is Flood's wife, Alma. She informs him that Crocker and her husband were childhood friends and that may have given him a reason for killing Tripp. Alma also admits that Kelly Baker was a member of their church.

Since the church affiliation was coming up more often, Virgil told Alma that his father was a minister and quoted verses from the bible but Alma didn't catch the biblical connection. Sensing a fraud, Virgil begins looking closer at just what is going on with the church.

He beings to get facts that astound him and the facts are hard for him to believe. There appear to be over a hundred families in this church and they are involved in a multigenerational sexual activity including rape, incest, and child abuse.
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