Book Review - Jackie K Cooper
ESCAPE CLAUSE by John Sandford
The funny, smart and always entertaining Virgil Flowers is back for a new adventure in John Sandford's latest novel ECSCAPE CLAUSE. Flowers is an agent for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehensions, and was first introduced to readers as a supporting character in a Lucas Davenport "Prey" novel. People seemed to like the off-kilter but affable Flowers and Sandford soon gave him a series of novels of his own.
In this latest book, Flowers is continuing his relationship with a lady named Frankie. It is getting serious between the two of them, or as serious as Flowers likes for his relationships to get. Frankie's sister Sparkle is visiting her along with her boyfriend Bill who is a Catholic priest. Bill is only a part-time priest so his celibacy is seasonal.
This happy scene is interrupted when Flowers is notified of the abduction of two Amur tigers from the Minnesota zoo. It is feared the tigers might have been taken in order to have various body parts removed and made into medicines favored by the Chinese. With this possibility looming time is of the essence.
What is great about Sandford's skills as a writer is he can keep more than one plot line moving at a time. Flowers main concern is the theft of the tigers, but while that investigation is playing out his girlfriend as well as others in his town of residence are involved in criminal attacks of their own. Sparkle is doing some investigating of one of the local plants and that riles the owners up. They plan to silence her in any way necessary.
Virgil can't be in two places running two investigations at one time, therefore he has to rely on his BCA co-workers to pick up the slack. Still he keeps himself up to date on Sparkle and Frankie's problems and heads home as often as possible. But as the tiger investigation progresses possibly related murders arise and more possibilities of violence are on the horizon.
John Sandford has always been the master of the plot in his books, but with Flowers he allows his more humorous side to emerge. Flowers is funny. He does funny things and he speaks funny words. If you don't catch yourself laughing out loud as you read this story then you don't have a sense of humor.
There is a big body count in this story and some of the events which occur are downright gruesome. Still in their own natural way Flowers and his cohorts manage to keep on top of the trouble while still making smart aleck remarks. They trade jibes and make highly amusing observations about the crimes they are investigating and life in general. Trust me, the Virgil Flowers stories are unique in that way.
Some writers get better with age while others get worse. Sandford is like fine wine. The more he ages the better he is. ESCAPE CLAUSE proves it.
ESCAPE CLAUSE is published by G. P. Putnam's Sons. It contains 400 pages and sells for $29.00.
Jackie K Cooper