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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mad River by John Sandford (Flowers #6)

Mad River (Virgil Flowers, #6)Mad River by John Sandford

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From  Bonnie and Clyde, they thought. And what’s-his-name, the sidekick. Three teenagers with dead-end lives, and chips on their shoulders, and guns.

The first person they killed was a highway patrolman. The second was a woman during a robbery. Then, hell, why not keep on going? As their crime spree cuts a swath through rural Minnesota, some of it captured on the killers’ cell phones and sent to a local television station, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers joins the growing army of cops trying to run them down. But even he doesn’t realize what’s about to happen next.

Audiobook.  I enjoyed this despite my gripes. I thought the authors wry sense of humor came back in this edition, which had me and the Husband chuckling more than once.  I also thought Sandford completely captured the essence of small town Minnesota.  While I didn't grow up in rural MN, my Husband did and subsequent visits over the last 20 years to "small town" had me completely agreeing with Sandford's portrayal, right down to the turkey dinner with potatoes, gravy, stuffing and cranberry's as a dinner at the local diner. 

As I noted, I had a few gripes - The time frame has Virgil visiting Letty, Davenport's ward from book #14 in the Davenport series, in the hospital after she had been shot in the arm.  I listened to the passage twice - in the Davenport book she is 10 or 12.  In the Flower book she is in high school.

I can understand the development of a side character into his/her full fledge series, but Virgil is not mentioned in #14 at all, nor is he mentioned as part of Davenports BCA team when he does take over as head coordinator.  A bit nitpicky? Perhaps.  But it's the details that can pull a reader out of the story(s).

The Jimmy/Becky/Tom characters - Jimmy shoots his Pa, who stumbles back and falls in the breezeway between kitchen and living room.  Jimmy then demands they move the body into the living room.  But in following scenes, the body is found where it fell. 

The over all story was a bit long.  We have Virgil, the Bear County Sheriff, mutual aid police departments, the National Guard all out hunting for our antagonists.  After a while it became a tich tedious, the antagonists were not that interesting in their Bonnie and Clyde roles.  Virgil's character was a bit to "Davenport-eske" in bedding a high school crush.  The Sheriff was over the top as a rural, uncouth hick, and overall, the plot was just bogged down in the middle.

Still, loved the humor in this one, and it was the humor that carried me through the book.

View all my reviews


Roswell Camp said...

I'm the son of John Sandford. I also run his website, manage a lot of his online presence, etc. I've been following your reviews with interest, since they ARE by someone reading outside their normal genre (if that makes any sense).

Anyway, I just read the review for "Mad River" and thought I'd clear up at least one of the discrepancies. "Mad River" takes place between books 22 & 23 of the Prey series. At some point – I won't give away too many details – Letty is shot in the arm (pretty seriously), and Virgil visits her. This is a full eight Prey books after her initial appearance, which translates to about four or five years in-universe (but don't try to actually make a coherent timeline of the Prey series, because it can't be done). So Virgil isn't visiting her as a result of the events of "Naked Prey". So... yeah.

Can't really comment on the body-being-moved thing. I'll need to read it again to see if he screwed up, or if there's something else going on.

If you've got any questions or comments, feel free to email me at

Kristin said...

Thank you for the clarification regarding Letty. It never even dawned on me that she would be shot again (seven books ahead of where I'm at) in the Prey series, so I just plugged the scenario into what seemed to best fit.

Also good to know I should probably stop trying to make Virgil-universe and Davenport-universe mesh. :)

Thanks again for commenting and the clarification. I am enjoying both series - a nice change of pace from my scifi books.

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