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Heat Lightning (Virgil Flowers, No. 2) Paperback – October 6, 2009
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Praise for Heat Lightning
“Sandford returns to Flowers (and more than just a bit of Davenport, too) in Heat Lightning, and the ride’s another wild one.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Features a colorful protagonist quite distinct from Davenport, and contains the usual snappy dialogue and suspenseful action.”—The Tennessean
“A fun, breezy read.”—The Post and Courier
“[A] fast-paced thriller...Flowers is a disarming and sometimes charming investigator. This book will appeal to readers of Sandford’s Prey series as well as fans of adventures like those by Lee Child.”—Library Journal
“Solid...Most readers will enjoy spending time in the company of the genial Flowers.”—Publishers Weekly
“The very last surprise...is a honey.”—Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
John Sandford is the pseudonym for the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Camp. He is the author of the Prey novels, the Kidd novels, the Virgil Flowers novels, and six other books, including three YA novels co-authored with his wife Michele Cook.
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Sandford's writing is addictive. His characters are unfailingly interesting. The plots in his novels are always complex, and sometimes devilishly so. The dialogue is crisp and sounds natural. And, at least in the Virgil Flowers series, it's sometimes funny.
Here, for example, is Virgil speaking with a bored young Vietnamese woman he has just met in the course of his investigation into a series of murders.
"'St. Paul would be a nice place to live if you had something to do. I don't have anything to do,'" the young woman remarks.
"'There's always sex,' Virgil said. 'You're away from home, where nobody knows you. You could indulge all your sexual fantasies and nobody would ever find out.'
"'But who would I sleep with?'
"'We could put a notice in the paper, ask for volunteers.'"
Virgil being Virgil, we can be confident that he will end up in bed with this young woman, who is, of course, extremely attractive. In fact, Virgil is likely to fall in love with her. He has a habit of doing that.
When others refer to Virgil, he is frequently called "that f---ing Virgil Flowers." The man does stand out!
The case that has brought Virgil together with this young woman involves a series of murders connected in some way with an event in Vietnam in 1975, immediately following the departure of the last US troops. Two veterans of the war have been found dead of gunshots, propped up against Vietnam War monuments in small Minnesota towns. They both have lemons stuffed in their mouths. Virgil's assignment is to track down the killers quickly enough to prevent any further killings.
As the action unfolds, a constellation of powerful forces and other seemingly unrelated players enter the stage. The CIA. The Vietnamese government. The Department of Homeland Security. The Red Lake Ojibwe. And the governor of Minnesota. Even a careful reader is likely to have difficulty predicting the course of events. As I said, John Sandford's plots are sometimes devilishly clever.
Previously, I've reviewed five other Virgil Flowers novels. You can find my reviews here on Amazon.
I’d read all Sandford’s “Prey” novels then decided to order the most recently released Virgil Flowers one. That lead to my ordering all the rest of this series. After they’d all arrived, I put them in publication order. Beginning with the first of the series,
I began a John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers series reading marathon. If you’re a mystery/thriller fan you’ve probably read Sandford
and know what to expect. Excellent character development, good descriptions of people and places, interesting story lines, plots with twists and turns, real life, although not for the sensitive to vulgarity, conversations and page-turning, have to see what happens next stories. Rather than get into the storyline of each book in the series, since so many other reviews have already done that, I think that pretty much says it all. The one thought I had after completing each one was…”How does he come up with all these different story lines?” If you like reading mystery/thriller books, I highly recommend John Sandford.
We have professional military-type killings, spies with CIA ties, and an interesting backstory from the final days of the Vietnam war. All of this is well done and still feels like Sandford at the helm (even if apparently he has a co-author with the flowers books, and even though the story and characters are a bit outside of Sandford's usual).
It just shows how well he writes... he does soldiers and spies better than some authors who make this stuff their bread and butter. There are no false notes, everything feels realistic and dramatic right up until the end, where there's a fairly implausible (but very satisfying) finishing touch, after all the action winds down.
If you still don't like Flowers books after this one, you can probably safely ignore all of them.
I hate reviews that run on forever, or rehash the book for you, so suffice it to say if you are a fan of the who done it genre, you will like Sanford's books, and if you enjoy a little humor thrown in, you will love Virgil Flowers. This was a fun read.