Tag Archives: minnesota

‘Mad River’ is an excellent read!

If you take a look at the “Books” tab at the top of the page, it will be no secret that I’m a big fan of author John Sandford. I just finished his most recent Virgil Flowers novel, “Mad River,” and loved it.

Sandford’s books aren’t great literature; he doesn’t even try for that. He just tells a great story.

The Virgil Flowers series is one of two of Sandford’s crime novel series. His primary, and longest-running series is the “Prey” series, which he began about a hundred years ago. That series of books focuses on a Minneapolis police detective, turned assistant chief, turned state investigator, Lucas Davenport. Davenport is smart, rich, urbane and smart-assed. Several years ago, Sandford took one of his secondary characters from the Prey books, Virgil Flowers (also known by his friends and colleagues as “that f_cking Flowers”) and created a second series of crime novels. While Davenport and his crew work the Twin Cities, Flowers works crimes out in rural Minnesota.

While it is helpful to read some of the books in order, it is not necessary. While with some authors (Patricia Cornwell, for instance) there are often important plot references to previous books, that is not so with Sandford’s books. It helps to know the characters, but you can pick up any of his books and fully enjoy it without having read any others.

Sandford’s strength is in his characters. His protagonists are the kind of people you would love to go hang out with for a while. He even creates bad-guys who can generate some empathy. And since all his main characters are wise-crackers, the dialogue can be great.

In Mad River, Flowers is standing on a street corner drinking beer with a friend when he gets a call from Davenport to work a multiple murder in a small down several hours drive away. When Flowers tells Davenport he won’t be in any shape to drive for a few hours, Davenport agrees and tells Flowers to be careful with the alcohol and driving.

“It would be best if you were gunned down in the line of duty and not killed in a drunk-driving accident.”

Mad River focuses on a trio of teenagers who start a minor killing spree across the Minnesota countryside – a kind of Bonnie and Clyde with a sidekick. The main plot isn’t a mystery, since there is never any question about who did the deed. It’s Flowers’ job to catch the kids before they kill two many more people, and hopefully before the local sheriff’s department takes things into their own hands and kills the kids first. There is also a sub-plot about what prompted the trio to start their crime spree to begin with.

As always, Mad River is a well written and compelling crime novel. Grab it for your own enjoyment or buy it as a Christmas present for a good friend or family member. They will thank you for it.

Another winner from John Sandford

If you are looking for a Christmas present for a reader, try “Shock Wave” by John Sandford.

I make no bones about it – I am a big John Sandford fan. His  reading his latest cop-thriller, “Shock Wave,” is outstanding.

Sandford has written about a thousand books, but his two primary series are both crime-police-mystery oriented. The Lucas Davenport “Prey” series takes place in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. The main character is Lucas, a brilliant, rich, good looking, sophisticated, etc. cop. His other series revolves around state crime investigator Virgil Flowers, who works for Davenport, but investigates in the rural parts of Minnesota.

Sandford’s plots are good, but his characters and dialogue are even better. With only a few exceptions, even his “bad guys” are engaging and frequently charismatic. Virgil is definitely the kind of guy I’d like to hang out with, even though the opportunity only comes in a book.

In “Shock Wave,” someone is planting bombs in small town to prevent the construction of a new big box store there. Virgil is trying to figure out who it is.  The plot is compelling and moves along. It gets “two thumbs up.”

I won’t tell you who the guilty bomber is, but here is a hint; Sandford’s antagonists are usually engaging and frequently charming.  Figure it out for yourself.

 

 

John Sandford’s latest a winner of a summer read

John Sandford is one of my favorite authors. He has several series of cop/crime fiction going and they are all great.

I just finished the latest in his “Prey” series – Buried Prey. It’s slightly different than many of his previous novels, but very good. It is an excellent summer read.

The main character in the “Prey” series is Lucas Davenport. When the series started, nearly 20 years ago, Lucas was a homicide detective in the Minneapolis Police Department. Lucas is smart, urbane, quick-witted and rich. (Not a bad combination. I want to be Lucas when I grow up.) He got all the tough cases. At the present point in the series, Lucas is the head of the Minnesota “Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.” And again, he gets all the tough cases.

In Buried Prey, building excavators unearth the bodies of two young girls, dead for a quarter century. It is a kidnap-murder case that Lucas worked as a young cop. Much of the book is a flash-back, as Lucas recalls the details of the summer the girls disappeared. Lucas is besieged by guilt over the case. The police were quick to close the case and pinned the murders on a homeless man who was killed by the police during his arrest. Lucas knows deep in his heart that the homeless man was innocent, but being a young cop, he went along with his bosses and “caved in.”

Sandford brings out some of Lucas’s personality characteristics that remain hidden in most of his books, including self-doubt, a sense of guilt, and a near-pathological drive for revenge.

As with nearly all of Sandford’s books, Buried Prey gets a thumbs-up. Very good!

Life is full

It has been a cold week here on the Georgia coast, maybe not by Minnesota standards, but certainly by ours. Ugh!

It has also been a busy week to be back to work. One of our scientists died in a home accident late last week, and that has taken up a lot of time and attention.  That,  and all the beginning of the year issues, has made it a weird week.

We had what seemed like our first CCD class in months last night. We had a good turn out and the “little darlin’s” were fairly attentive and engaged. We covered the sacrament of Baptism, and next week one of our priests is going to conduct a mock-baptism and explain the steps and symbols for our class and probably one or two others. That plan prompted an interesting development.

When I first walked in the building, I saw a mother in the office, apparently registering her kids for classes. She also had a newborn baby in a carrier. At the end of class, I saw her again in the hallway and we started talking.  I asked her if the baby had been baptized yet, and she said that it was scheduled for the 31st. Half-jokingly, I asked her if she would like to have the baby baptized next Wednesday night during our baptism program. Surprisingly, she didn’t think it was such a bad idea. I pointed out that the lad would certainly have a lot of god-parents. When we parted, she seemed like she was willing to go along with it. We exchanged contact information. We’ll see if she still thinks it’s a good idea after she’s had the chance to think about it. If she and her family go along with it, it would be a gas.

I stopped by the home-improvement store earlier this week and ordered the laminate flooring for our bedrooms. Mrs. Poolman has set up an appointment with an installer who comes recommended by several of her co-workers.

I installed the flooring in the rest of the house several years ago. After that summer-long project, I told Mrs. P early-on that whenever we finished off the bedrooms, we would have a professional come in and do the work. I am lacking the skills, the proper tools and the patience to tackle that again, especially with all the measuring and cutting involved in doing multiple rooms with closets, doorways, etc.

So we are looking at an action-packed Saturday, with a memorial service, the job to pick up the flooring and the “estimate appointment” with the flooring installer. However, the pressure is now on to finish the painting in our bedroom. For two people who don’t have much of a life, we sure seem to be busy.