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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Escape Clause by John Sandford (Virgil Flowers #8)

Escape Clause (Virgil Flowers, #9)Escape Clause by John Sandford

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb:  Whenever you hear the sky rumble, that usually means a storm. In Virgil Flowers’ case, make that two. The exceptional new thriller from the writer whose books are “pure reading pleasure” (Booklist)

The first storm comes from, of all places, the Minnesota zoo. Two large, and very rare, Amur tigers have vanished from their cage, and authorities are worried sick that they’ve been stolen for their body parts. Traditional Chinese medicine prizes those parts for home remedies, and people will do extreme things to get what they need. Some of them are a great deal more extreme than others -- as Virgil is about to find out.

Then there’s the homefront. Virgil’s relationship wi th his girlfriend Frankie has been getting kind of serious, but when Frankie’s sister Sparkle moves in for the summer, the situation gets a lot more complicated. For one thing, her research into migrant workers is about to bring her up against some very violent people who emphatically do not want to be researched. For another…she thinks Virgil’s kind of cute.

“You mess around with Sparkle,” Frankie told Virgil, “you could get yourself stabbed.”
“She carries a knife?”
“No, but I do.”

Forget a storm – this one’s a tornado.

Read as an audio book.

This would have marked my last book of 2016. Review just falls in 2017.

Noooo! (Long drawn out wail from my car...) Not the tigers!!! I was admittedly perturbed for the rest of the book, which might have been the point - killing or threatening to kill an animal can be perceived as more abhorrent than the usual murder/mystery/thriller. Even as the body count rose, it wasn't as bothersome as the poor tigers.

Classic Sandford, perhaps a bit lighter topic than some of his other Virgil stories - like Bad Blood - with lots of snippets of humor sprinkled throughout - skinny dipping with Frankie and Sparkle and Bill show up, Bill, everyone asking Virgil if he brought his gun then saying "don't shoot me", yup, lots of classic Virgil humor. I really enjoyed that.

Premise of the book is two rare Amur tigers have been stolen from the Minnesota Zoo and the BCA is called in due to the high profile crime. Virgil Flowers is point man because everyone else is pulling security at the State Fair (read Extreme Prey, Davenport #26). Flowers starts poking around as only Flowers can, and pretty soon he's got everyone riled up. Even people folks who have nothing to do with the investigation are riled up. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for getting the tigers back alive.

As I noted, this is classic Sandford writing. The reader knows what the antagonist is doing, will get to see the misdirection and mistakes both sides make, and watch as everything comes to a rather explosive ending. I continued to enjoy the humor - seriously, how could you not get a chuckle out of an RV full of Armenian hit men and everyone complimenting everyone else's shoes? Frankie's sister Sparkle and the bartender/priest Bill added an enjoyable subplot, and there are a handful of returning well liked characters.

This is light, enjoyable, bordering on brain candy. Recommended if you've read the first 5 in the series.

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