Tag Archives: John Sandford

Holy Ghost

10 Dec

“Holy Ghost” is the latest novel by John Sandford.

In a small town in Minnesota, the Virgin Mary has taken to appearing in a small church. Is it a hoax? That’s really none of Virgil Flowers’ business, but the maniac who has taken to shooting people outside the church is!

The 11th Virgil Flowers novel is every bit as delightful as the previous ones. Virgil has grown a bit, settling in to the idea of being a father.

The book just zooms an bounces along. As usual the supporting characters are all well rounded and interesting. I am hoping for a couple of them to come back in future books.

My cup of happiness overflowed when Jenkins and Shrake appeared. The BCA’s bully boys are possibly my favourites of John Sandford’s supporting characters.

“Holy Ghost” is an excellent addition to the Virgil Flowers series, which has now overtaken the Lucas Davenport books as my preferred John Sandford reads.

Highly recommended.

Twisted Prey

20 Aug

“Twisted Prey” the latest Lucas Davenport novel by John Sandford is more thriller than crime novel, dealing, as it does, with the attempted assassination of a US senator.

So much for the plot. Actually, I can’t say much about the plot without giving too much away. Suffice to say my opening sentence pretty much encapsulates the basics.

The book is actually so slow in the beginning that I almost gave up, but decided to keep going. I’m glad I did. Suddenly the book took off and it was vintage John Sandford.

The character of Letty appears to be going in a disturbing direction.  One that I am not sure that I like.

There were shocks and jolts, then the ending seemed to be dribbling away to nothing, before John Sandford had one last shock up his sleeve.

The result is one hell of a read. Highly recommended.

Golden Prey

31 May

I really wasn’t sure how I was going to like “Golden Prey”, the latest Lucas Davenport novel by John Sandford.  Lucas is now a US Marshal, removed from his support network of Del Capslock, Jenkins, Shrake, and Virgil.

I need not have worried.  Lucas has two excellent new foils in the form of the Marshal services Special Operations Group marshals Bob and Rae.  They give Lucas a run for his money and the three characters gel well together.

Members of a drug cartel are murdered, and one of them’s granddaughter is also killed.  Evidence suggests that one of the Marshal’s most wanted, a guy named Garvin Poole is the killer.  Lucas sents out to hunt him down.

So far, so Sandford.

However, the plot goes spinning almost out of control with cartel killers also on the hunt, including a female torturer known for her creative use of power tools, a lesbian couple who also work for the cartel, and a shoot out at an art gallery.  Way, way, way over the top.  Not just over the top but galloping down the other side!

But, being John Sandford, it all works.  It all comes together in a fast paced, at times outright hilarious, riot of a novel.

This is John Sandford at his very best.  This is the pick of the John Sandford novels over the last five years.

Highly recommended.

Escape Clause

18 Dec

“Escape Clause” by John Sandford is the 9th Virgil Flowers novel.

Two Amur tigers are stolen from a zoo.  Virgil is tasked with tracking them down and returning them before the are reduced to component parts for Chinese medicine.  To add to the confusion, Virgil’s girlfriend Frankie’s sister has turned up and getting herself into all sorts of trouble interviewing illegal immigrant workers at a canning factory.  Then when Frankie is beaten up by thugs, all hell breaks loose for Virgil and the BCA.

Baring one or two little niggles, I loved this book.  The plot was just this side of believable to make suspension of belief fun not ridiculous.

There was lots of Jenkins and Shrake.  Two characters I adore.

I found the skinny dipping scene a trifle creepy and the character of Sparkle’s boyfriend, Bill, pretty much unlikeable.  Mostly he tripped my ethics and morality buttons, seeing as he’s supposedly an ordained priest!

But apart from those quibbles, “Escape Clause” was a fantastic read.  Lots of drama, plenty of Sandford’s trade mark humour, and the scene where the main bad guy gets his comeuppance has to be read to be believed.

In a word: Fun.

Highly recommended.

Extreme Prey

29 May

I will admit that this was the last chance for me for this series of John Sandford’s.  I’d found the last two Lucas Davenport books severely lacking the spark that made the series so great.  So it was with some trepidation that I picked up “Extreme Prey”.

Lucas Davenport is back with a bang!

Elmer Henderson is running for President, when he notices a couple of strange people giving him odd messages at rallies that seem to point to a conspiracy against another candidate, he calls Lucas in to investigate.  Turns out it’s not political paranoia, and Lucas is running against the clock to prevent an assassination.

“Extreme Prey” has all the zest, bounce, and twisted humour that I have come to expect from John Sandford (and that was lacking from the last couple of books).

A well plotted, gripping read, that was damn near un-put-downable.

The books denouement is heart stoppingly explosive, and the solution to Lucas’ lack of official position is delightfully solved at the very end.

A must for all John Sandford fans, and a great read for lovers of thrillers in general.

Gathering Prey

17 Sep

“Gathering Prey” is the 25th Lucas Davenport novel by John Sandford.

In the book someone is killing Travelers, which are basically modern hobos.  Letty Davenport has befriended a couple and when the man goes missing, the woman rings Letty for help.  This was about the most believable part of a particularly unbelievable novel.  I have no problems with being asked to suspend belief on the plausibility of a plot; I do have problems being asked to suspend it by the neck until dead.

Lucas Davenport goes Lone Wolf – again.  I thought he’d grown out of this crap.  Letty is basically aiding and abetting him.

The various police officers, sheriffs, and deputies all come across as shit-kicking rednecks.  I kept expecting to read one of them say “Squeal like a pig, boy”, and for banjos to be mentioned.

Weather, Del, Jenkins, Shrake, Rosemarie, and Virgil barely appear.  John Sandford appeared to forget a character’s name, referring to Governor Henderson’s aid as ‘The chief weasel’, instead of Neil Mitford.  This is unacceptable to me as the character has been in a hell of a lot of the novels.  There is no sign of Ellie at all.  The interaction with the supporting characters is where the warmth and playfulness of the novels usually lies.  Without them, “Gathering Prey” is a tedious wade through violence and death, with Lucas and Letty coming off as Dirty Harry and Dirty Harriet!

“Gathering Prey” doesn’t feel like a John Sandford novel at all.  More like very bad fan fiction using the character names, but with no actual grip on the characters.

I was really disappointed as the Lucas Davenport novels have been firm favourites of mine for years.  “Naked Prey”, “Broken Prey”, “Hidden Prey”, and “Buried Prey” get pretty regular rereads.

“Gathering Prey”, alas, is not recommended.


10 May

I have to say this, “Deadline”, the most recent Virgil Flowers novel, by John Sandford, was a bit of a disappointment.

It seemed to hold so much promise: dog napping, murder, and a school board running amok.

Unfortunately the promise fizzled out before the book reached the half way mark.  It went from being full of promise to being full of the ridiculous.

The character of Virgil seemed slightly ‘off’ from the other books.  No spiritual speculations for a start.  The character is given, in earlier books, to interesting thoughts of a spiritual nature, but in this one he appeared to be operating on auto pilot with no thoughts at all in his head.

“Deadline” was saved from being a total write-off by the wonderful Jenkins and Shrake.  The BCA’s bully boys were at their pretending-to-be-ignorant, shit-kicker, best.

So called “bad” language doesn’t worry me, I use a few choice words myself when the situation warrants it.  John Sandford does drop the occasional “fuck” in his novels.  However, this time around it seemed to be the Word of the Week for the characters.  Frankly, I got extremely tired of it.

To be honest, I think “Deadline” is only worth reading if you’re a dyed in the wool Virgil Flowers fan.  Steer clear if you’ve never read any John Sandford books before.  There are much better ones to start off your reading.

Silken Prey

23 May

Finished reading the new John Sandford Lucas Davenport novel, “Silken Prey” last night.

As always, John Sandford writes a ripping yarn.  Action packed and stacked with wit and smart arsed comments.  However, I found “Silken Prey” to be something of a disappointment.

I am not interested in political thrillers, which, unfortunately, is what “Silken Prey” mostly is.  The plot revolves around a dirty tricks campaign against the current senator by the opposition trying to oust him, and the inevitable murders that occur as the plot unravels.

Sorry, but many non-Americans are deeply uninterested in the minutiae of American politics, so it effectively renders the book unfathomable and, ultimately, uninteresting to those outside of the USA.

I know from posts John Sandford has made on his Facebook page that he is contemplating moving Lucas Davenport to Washington D.C..  If this happens I will probably stop reading.  Not so much because of the subject matter, but because some of my favorite characters will not believably be able to make the shift with Lucas and his family.  Lucas can’t really take his BCA team with him, so no more Jenkins, Shrake, or Del Capslock, except maybe in the Virgil Flowers novels, which are different again.

The only upside I can see to shifting the setting is that maybe we will get the return of FBI agent Louis Mallard.  I really enjoyed all the books Mallard was in.  It would be nice to see him as a regular.

I did notice that John Sandford made a slight error.  All the way through the books Lucas and Weather’s housekeeper has been Ellen – suddenly she becomes Helen!  Mr Sandford’s editor needs their backside smacked.  That should have been picked up.

Subject matter aside, “Silken Prey” was a good read.  It had all the elements I have come to expect in a John Sandford novel.  His characters all seethe with life and energy.  I do hope we get to see more of former Secret Service agent Alice Green in future novels.  That would almost reconcile me on shifting Lucas to Washington D.C.

Buried Prey

28 Apr

Every so often you come across a book that every time you pick it up, triggers memories of the first time you read it.

“Buried Prey” by John Sandford is one of those books for me.  I bought my copy at a book shop at Venice Beach in Los Angeles when I was visiting in July 2011.  I bought the shop’s very last copy and took it back to my hotel.  One of my closest friends was flying in from South Carolina that afternoon, and I had several hours until she arrived.  So I snuggled down with a pile of snacks and “Buried Prey”.  I had read it from cover to cover before her plane even touched down.  It is very rare for me to find a book I don’t want to put down on first reading.

Even on subsequent re-reads, like yesterday, “Buried Prey” still sinks its claws into my mind and holds on for dear life.

In this book the very first crime Lucas Davenport dealt with as a police detective comes back to haunt him, as the bodies of two little girls abducted in 1985 are discovered.

The early part of the book is an interesting departure for John Sandford, as it is written, not as flashbacks, but as if Lucas was back reliving his past.  We learn how Lucas met his friends Harrison Sloan and Del Capslock.

The book then surges back into the present like a tsunami.  The death of a major series character hits the reader with the force of a sledgehammer.  Every time I read the book, I know the death is coming, but every time it still hits me in the gut.

Fast paced, exciting, as much thriller as crime fiction, “Buried Prey” is probably one of John Sandford’s best novels.  It is certainly one of the very best in the Lucas Davenport series.

I think the Davenport series would have to be my favorite.  Not because it has the most books, but because of how the character has grown and changed from the almost psychopath of “Rules of Prey” to the loving family man of “Buried Prey” and beyond.

I also love John Sandford’s sense of humor.  Very dark cop humor.  Be warned though, John Sandford doesn’t pull any punches in the language department.  You are not going to find hard arsed homicide cops saying “Oh dearie me,” or similar mildly expressed sentiments.

You often go to the dark side of the human psyche with the Lucas Davenport books, and “Buried Prey” is darker than some of the more recent novels.  Just how far will Lucas go to avenge to death of a good friend?  Read “Buried Prey” and find out.

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