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on October 5, 2011
We are big fans of Sandford, having read every single one of his Kidd, Lucas Davenport, and Virgil Flowers novels. These latter stories are similar to, but usually less violent than, the "Prey" novels, as Virgil is inclined to let the "regular" cops do most of the dirty work while he contemplates things quietly and often draws clever conclusions from just talking to people.

"Shock Wave" is aptly named, as it involves a plot about a very busy bomber who has it in for "Pye-Mart", obviously a Walmart knockoff, that is in the early construction phase in Butternut Falls (MN), and expected to destroy the local merchants and pollute the river with runoff, etc., etc. While that's not exactly an original premise, the one or two bombings per day keep everyone hopping to an insane degree, with a similar increase in suspense to the reader. Not surprisingly, there appears to have been illegal payoffs to local politicos to make the approval for the new megastore a reality; and while he's trying to discover the identity of the bomber, Virgil uncovers those crimes as well, nicely cleaning up the local scene. Meanwhile, Virgil seems to be telephonically breaking up with his new sheriff sweetheart, which slows down his tendency to womanize key characters, but that only added to the "off-screen" fun.

We don't award many books all five stars, but this one seems quite deserving -- a terrific protagonist in an exciting and suspenseful plot combine for a thrill-charged entertaining novel -- highly recommended!
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on October 11, 2011
As I say in my review, unlike many authors of roughly his generation, John Sanford isn't experimenting with new--and usually unsuccessful--formats, characters, or styles. Shock Wave is another Virgil Flowers success that I couldn't put down. Waited weeks for the book and finished it in a day. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Good plot, credible characters, nice touches of humor, and a satisfying ending you don't quite see coming. Very much Sandford at his reliable best.
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on October 6, 2011
By the time they get to their 25th book in a setting (these are in the same world as his Prey books), most authors are just mailing it in (see Griffin, Clancy). Sandford continues to put out exciting, well-plotted books that make you laugh out loud at times ("I have varied interests. And insomnia."). Definitely worth a read!
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VINE VOICEon October 13, 2011
On my dining room table are about 3 or 4 books that I was planning on reading, but when this came in I dropped everything including the book I was reading to read this one. There are about 3 or 4 authors who I read whatever they write immediately. Sandford is my number one. No matter whether it is Davenport, Kidd,or Flowers you get quality. While Davenport is edgy and violent, Flowers is the layed back good ole boy next door that makes you feel comfortable. Sandford uses his two track story line here, as he does in his other novels. One track is Flowers working to solve the crime and the other track is the criminal thinking how to outwit Flowers. The reader gets to see both tracks move along till they merge into one final and violent confrontation. Against the rural Minnesota back ground Flowers chases a serial bomber, common man vs. big business or so it seems. Throw in corupt city officals and Flowers has his hands full. This Flowers' novel is like wading into a country creek and the current picks you up and you begin to float,slowly at first,twisting, winding, and finally hitting rapids. Nothing seems slow and before you know it you are at the end. That is how you know your are in the hands of professional. This time Sandford changes things at the end by teasing the reader with the next story in the Flowers series.
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on October 4, 2011
I like this series and I like the protagonist. If you enjoyed Sanford's other stuff like Buried Prey or my new favorite Chaos and Kingdom you will love "Shock Wave".

Just when other authors start to wallow in their success-driven mediocrity, John Sanford is producing his best work yet. This latest edition to the Virgil Flowers series (the spin off of the Prey series) is one of his best. This series is clever where other writers' stuff can be commercial; compelling when other books can be gratuitous; and entertaining when others can be cheesy.

In this novel, the cerebral cop Flowers tackles a dastardly bomber who has it out for Pye-Mart stores (big box retailers that are clearly modeled after the Waltons' gift to the world). But is that corporate terrorist just your typical tree-hugger mad about the pollutants in his pristine Minnesota wilderness or is do the bombings have to do with dirty politicians?
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on November 5, 2011
I know of no other mystery/thriller author who has written more consistently excellent books than John Sandford. Shock Wave is yet another winner. Sandford created one of my favorite characters in the genre, Lucas Davenport, and the star of this book, Virgil Flowers, is rapidly moving up the list.

As in all Sandford's books, the plot is excellent, the police investigative work rings true, the dialogue is great, and the characters are very believable. The plot was a real head-scratcher, but the conclusion worked and made sense.

All-in-all, this is another fine addition to the roster of excellent novels by Sandford. If you're already a fan or new to this author, you'll love it.
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on November 27, 2011
Virgil Flowers considers himself a "shitkicker" and tends to dress, talk, and act like one, favoring T-shirts from rock bands, cowboy boots, fly fishing, fast motorboats, and, shall we say, casual language. Here he is in conversation with one of his suspects in Shock Wave, a trade school instructor:

Virgil: "So, where you at?"

Suspect: "You don't need the `at' at the end of that sentence. If you'd asked, `Where are you?' that would have been fine."

Virgil: "I'm colloquial."

Virgil sometimes uses words like "colloquial" because, in reality, he has a college degree (in ecological science) and a scary-high IQ, and, though everyone seems to comment that he looks nothing like a cop, he is the most successful detective in the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprensioin (BCA).

In Shock Wave, the fifth in John Sanders' Virgil Flowers series, Virgil is sent to investigate a fatal bombing at the site of a future big-box store that is carefully positioned not to be a Wal-Mart even though it clearly is. There, he encounters the founder of the Wal-Mart-like chain, an irascible old man with a million-dollar secretary and $32 billion net work, along with the mayor and members of the city council of a small town in the far reaches of Minnesota. As the novel's first bombing is followed by a second and then, in quick succession, another, Virgil and the local sherrif race to identify the bomber -- and, along the way, come to grips with the corruption on the city council that gave the green light for the store to be built.

John Sandford is a master of novels like this. In addition to the Virgil Flowers series, he has published 21 entries in the "Prey" series featuring Virgil's boss, Lucas Davenport, 4 more in another short-lived crime series, plus two unrelated novels and a couple of nonfiction books as well -- starting in 1988. If your skills run more to language than to mathematics, please note that Sandford (a pseudonym for a former Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist) has been writing an average of about 1-1/2 books per year. Others are more prolific, but Sandford's plots are invariably inventive, his characters three-dimensional, and his prose eminently readable.
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on February 13, 2013
Let me begin by stating that I am a long time John Sandford fan. I have read all of his Prey series and all his Virgil Flowers books, as well, and a couple of his others. My challenge has always been trying to put one of his books down.

Shock Wave is another story all together. I have had to force myself to pick it up. It is a tough slog - a very tough slog. The story drags on slowly - terribly slowly. And it's not a particularly interesting story line at that.

I am stuck on page 202 and haven't picked up the book in several weeks. I doubt very much that I shall ever pick it up again. I certainly cannot recommend it.

I don't know if Shock Wave suffers from being a collaborative effort. He owes his very best effort - always - it to his loyal readers. He failed to do so this time.
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on October 10, 2011
Virgil should be more fun. This seemed in slo-mo. The laughs weren't there. Maybe his domestic situation put a damper on the whole thing. But the fact that he's badly conned, and it costs lives, adds a dimension to this character, we haven't seen before. Sandford is still a pro. This just doesn't measure up to his high standards.
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on May 20, 2016
My first Virgil Flowers book and I enjoyed it. It seems to meander along slowly, pretty much like Flowers himself but there are strokes of pure genius in the way the book develops. Flowers seems to be a bit slow and not very intelligent but he has a way of getting down to what is important and figuring it all out in an unusual manner. I can often work out " who dunit" half way through a book but I couldn't guess this one until it waa revealed. Will definitely read more.
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