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Dark of the Moon (A Virgil Flowers Novel) Mass Market Paperback – September 30, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Virgil Flowers, introduced in bestseller Sandford's Prey series (Invisible Prey, etc.), gets a chance to shine in his own vehicle and does so brightly. The thrice-divorced, affable member of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), who reports to Prey series hero Lucas Davenport, operates pretty much on his own as he tackles a murder wave that hits the little town of Bluestem. At the center of the story is old Bill Judd, hated by many who blame him for the Jerusalem artichoke scheme that made him rich and others poor. Other motives abound as do suspects—including a religious/survivalist cult headed by a felon or some of the many who participated in the long ago orgies Judd orchestrated. Flowers likes to stir things up and see what happens, and plenty does as the killings continue. Sandford keeps the reader guessing and the pages turning while Flowers displays the kind of cool and folksy charm that might force Davenport to share the spotlight more often. 500,000 first printing. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Headed to rural Bluestem to assist local law enforcement with the seemingly motiveless murder of an elderly couple, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers happens upon a raging house fire on the edge of town. The house's owner, Bill Judd, killed in the blaze, was an elderly recluse who, back in the day, ran an elaborate pyramid scheme and simultaneously bedded half the women in town. He escaped conviction on the fraud charge, and the money was never recovered. There have been no murders in Bluestem for a half-century, and now there are three in a couple weeks. Virgil is not an advocate of coincidence and so begins digging for a connection between the victims. Complicating matters is his affair with the sister of the local police chief. Sandford's plotting and dialogue are as crisp as ever, and the emergence of Virgil Flowers gives the author another idiosyncratic, thoroughly ingratiating hero to alternate with the ever-popular Lucas Davenport. Flowers, who made his debut as a secondary character in the Davenport thriller Invisible Prey (2007), is a low-key loose cannon whose wardrobe consists of alternative-rock t-shirts carefully chosen to match his agenda of the day. The appeal of the Davenport series is mainly tied to the hero's wit and self-deprecating humor, but this first Flowers entry is more about action: an adrenaline rush peppered with laugh-out-loud moments. Lukowsky, Wes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
As Virgil heads home in his truck, he spots a roaring fire on a hilltop along the way. Rushing to the scene, he encounters fire trucks, several sheriff's deputies, and a crowd of onlookers. An enormous house atop the hill is in the process of being reduced to rubble as the firefighters stand aside, unable to do a thing about it. As Virgil knows—as everyone in the region knows—the house is the property of Bill Judd Sr., an aging multimillionaire hated by virtually everyone within driving distance. More than twenty years earlier, Judd had been the perpetrator of a Ponzi scheme that bankrupted many of his neighbors. Had someone finally gotten even? That was the conventional wisdom in the neighboring town of Bluestem. But this is not Virgil's case.
At first, it appears that the incident at the Judd house was simply a matter of arson. Perhaps the old man torched the place and has run off to Bora-Bora to enjoy the millions he stole. But it soon becomes clear to Virgil and the local investigators that Judd died a horrible death in the fire, a victim of murder. In fact, Sandford had already told us that the old man was viciously killed by someone named Moonie and that there are more murders to come.
Judd's son, Bill Judd Jr., "a greedy, grasping, sociopathic businessman" like his father, is frantic for the case to be closed so he can inherit the estate. However, a young woman named Jesse Laymon steps forward claiming to be a natural daughter of Judd Sr. Clearly, this will slow things down, complicating Jr's desperate grab for his father's money. It now seems to be clear that money lies at the heart of this case. Or does it? Somehow, a drug-dealing right-wing preacher seems to have a connection to the case.
Not long afterward, as we expect, a brutal double murder takes place in Bluestem. The victims are a couple in their eighties, contemporaries of Bill Judd Sr. Sheriff Jim Stryker, a friend of Virgil's, is at a standstill in his investigation in both cases, so he calls in the state's equivalent of the FBI, the BCA in the person of Virgil Flowers, to help him with what appears to be the work of a ritual killer. Bluestem is in Virgil's territory, and he's soon on the scene. Virgil quickly begins to wonder whether the two cases are connected—all three victims were in their eighties. However, if there is a connection, it will take Virgil a lot of work to bring it out into the open.
Meanwhile, Virgil becomes involved romantically with Joanie Stryker, the sheriff's beautiful younger sister. The sheriff himself begins developing a relationship with Jesse Laymon. It doesn't take long for Virgil to realize that practically everyone he meets in Bluestem, including Judd Jr., Joanie, and Jesse, is a suspect in what has become clear to him is a triple homicide. Everyone seems to have a motive. Then two other murders come to light, pressure from the news media and Virgil's boss begins to mount, and Virgil's investigation ranges further afield to include that fanatical right-wing preacher who is suspected of drug-dealing, the local newspaper editor, and the sheriff himself. It will take every ounce of Virgil's considerable intelligence and insight to untangle the mystery. He can only hope that in the process he won't alienate everyone in town.
It's easy to understand how John Sandford parlayed this gem of a mystery novel into his second popular series. The characters are believable, the dialogue sparkles, and the suspense builds to a tragic climax.
I did complete the novel thought multiple times I was tempted to look for something else to read.
The plot was slow in developing. But was pretty good once I did get deeper into it..
Older couples getting murdered, their bodies being displayed in horrific and grossly positions.
The conclusion was unexpected and well depicted.
I do plan on reading more of John Sandford's novels.
Part of an elite, permanent task force assigned to major crimes usually involving homicide, Virgil approaches crime fighting with deductive reasoning and the strong, confident technique of a hunter who finds tracks and knows the final hunt has commended.
Perfect role for the deep voice of the "cowboy" actor that does voiceovers for Coors beer,"The Banquet Beer".
Convoluted plot with convoluted motives, multiple suspects, good looking, convoluted women.
This series has grabbed me, hard. I just read the first book (this one, Dark of the Moon) a month ago, (not expecting much, to be honest), and I'm already on book 5 or 6.
The material is a bit gritty, but it's nicely balanced by Virgil's unique method of "social" investigation.
The only downside is that I used to assume Minnesota was a nice place. Now it seems a bit foreboding, with a high chance of not getting out alive.