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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bad Blood by John Sandford

Book #4 in the Virgil Flowers series.  Read as an audiobook. 

Sandford knows how to write a good mystery.  His characters are solid, realistic, and dynamic.  Virgil, by no means perfect, knows how to do his job, keeps his boss in the loop and utilizes the resources around him.  No running off after the murder suspect to confront them alone, down a dark alley, with no back up (a mystery peeve of mine).  The settings in Minnesota actually exist (see my last comments from Mercy Falls by WKK) even if a small town is 'created' for the purposes of the story.  It's still in a real place and time.  Subtle difference, but important.

HB $27.99 ($15.53 from; 400 pgs
From (via Booklist): Bobby Tripp was a good kid, working at a grain mill, saving for college. But he killed Jacob Flood, a local farmer delivering his harvest; and then, after Bobby was arrested, he hung himself in jail. The sheriff, Lee Coakley, reaches out for help to Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. She gets Virgil Flowers, the throwback hippie with the hair, the rock-band T-shirts, and a rep as a lockdown investigator. Coakley and Flowers catch a whiff of sexual abuse involving Bobby’s girlfriend. The abuse angle widens and is centered on a local church, but the congregation closes ranks with iron uniformity. Flowers and Coakley get a line on a woman who escaped the influence of the church years before. She becomes the key to the case, opening a Pandora’s box of multiple murders, criminal behavior among the sheriff’s deputies, and revelations of deviancy that go back generations. As usual, Sandford delivers a great mystery with action, suspense, humor, and, yes, sex. Virgil always gets his man, but he also gets the girl.

The blurb is too tame.  Blood Country was a bit...unsettling.  Virgil is called down to southern Minnesota to investigate four murders and uncovers a cult of adult sexual molestation and child abuse.   I'm gonna just put that one right out there because it may turn some folks off.  Some descriptions and scenes in the book aren't sugar coated. 

If one can tolerate the unpleasant topic, the plot and character development in Bad Blood was outstanding, the humor subtle and a good counterpoint to the seriousness of the crimes, and a fairly quick read. 

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