I was a tad harsh on John Sandford and Virgil Flowers when we last caught up in Deep Freeze. In reality I missed the wild, irresponsible and irreverent Virgil who seemed much changed. Though in fairness to him he was facing fatherhood and monogamy for the first time ever.
Obviously it didn’t deter me as I was keen to rejoin Virgil (or ‘that fuckin Flowers’ as he’s known to most) on his latest exploits. And (other than the weird inclusion of bloody larceny involving children’s toys again – this time lego* instead of barbie dolls!) THIS was more the Sandford I know and love.
by John Sandford
Series: Virgil Flowers #11
Published by Simon & Schuster AU
on November 1st 2018
Source: Simon & Schuster
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 1471174875, 9781471174872, 9781471174889
Pinion, Minnesota: a metropolis of all of seven hundred souls for which the word "moribund" might have been invented.
Nothing ever happened there and nothing ever would--until the mayor of sorts (campaign slogan: "I'll Do What I Can") and a buddy come up with a scheme to put Pinion on the map. They'd heard of a place where a floating image of the Virgin Mary had turned the whole town into a shrine, attracting thousands of pilgrims. And all those pilgrims needed food, shelter, all kinds of crazy things, right?
They'd all get rich! What could go wrong?
I guess if I had to say why I enjoy the Lucas Davenport (Prey) or Virgil Flowers’ series so much I’d say it’s because of the characters. Sandford has created really really likeable characters. Flawed and far from perfect but very real and engaging.
I’ve already mentioned that the Virgil I knew and loved is (mostly) back here but Sandford adds a couple of ring-ins for good measure – and what a delightful place Wheatfield would indeed be if it did exist!
Mayor Wardell Holland is interesting enough but I adored his business partner, the young entrepreneurial genius (JJ) Skinner and – if we hadn’t got a bit of a run-down on ‘what comes next’ I would have hoped to meet the 17yr old again. And then of course there’s the visiting priest, town hairdresser / blogger / Virgil’s landlady and the local sheriff and… (I could just keep going.)
Regular readers will also be happy to see another few other familiar faces who visit briefly.
The blurb doesn’t talk much about what brings Virgil (ie. the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) to Pinion and surrounds but essentially someone’s been taking potshots around the town. No one’s dead yet but it’s only a matter of time. Of course, the mayor’s biggest concern is their steady stream of newfound visitors will be frightened off… so they call in Virgil.
He gets ‘stuck’ however and can’t seem to find his way around this case and it was interesting that – for a time anyway – no amount of investigating of clues or mercurial leaps in deduction (we so often see in crime fiction) were gonna solve the shootings. Unsurprisingly he decides to stir things up, which certainly results in some ummm…. action (and not all of it good).
It’s a little hard for we readers to guess the whodunnit here as (for a long time) we don’t have all of the information. I usually prefer it when we HAVE to work out which of our beloved characters is a simmering lunatic or has some justifiable reason to commit a murderous act; but I’ll forgive Sandford this as he offers us some amazing and quirky characters (and a few twisty bits at the end) making this a very enjoyable read.
Holy Ghost by John Sandford will be published in Australia by Simon & Schuster and available from 1 November 2018.
* I should note that I'm pretty sure a kitten in heaven dies every time LEGOS is used as a plural when CLEARLY we in Australia are correct in that the term LEGO is singular AND plural. #justsayin