A Virgil Flowers Novel
By John Sandford
Center Point Large Print (2010), 447 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - November 14, 2010
This is John Sandford's fourth delightful sometimes humorous Virgil Flowers novel. Virgil is known as that "fucking Flowers," but nobody, including Virgil can remember how he got the name. Some think it reflects his sexual exploits, but others are convinced that it is an expression of annoyance; Virgil is very persistent; he pops up frequently. He is tall, very handsome, has a debonair air, dresses down, wears his hair long, and wears cowboy boots. He is an engaging character. The book has an interesting and mystifying mystery of multiple murders.
A recently-elected female sheriff, whom Virgil thinks is pretty and who thinks Virgil is called "fucking Flowers" because of sex, asks his help in solving a murder. A young man reported an accidental fall that resulted in death. However, the coroner proved that the death was murder. Virgil agrees to help. The boy is arrested and jailed. He agrees to talk to a newsman, who Virgil discovers is gay. But in the early morning, before he has a chance to talk, he is hanging, an apparent suicide. However the coroner again reveals that the man was murdered. Since the only person present, or so it seems, was a deputy sheriff, this man is suspected of the murder. The sheriff and Virgil go to interview him, but find that he apparently shot himself. Both Virgil and the crime scene investigators prove that the death was murder. There are now three murders in a small town where even one murder is remarkable, but there is no motive for any of them.
Virgil – who is constantly drinking diet coke, as if Sandford was paid to advertize the drink - discovers that there was a fourth recent nearby murder of a 17-year-old girl. She was tied up, sexually assaulted repeatedly in every orifice, has no resistance marks, and was strangled. He also hears that at least one of the four dead people was a homosexual, and that at least one belonged to a religious cult.
Why was the boy killed in the jail in the early morning when people could come to the sheriff's office; why not in the middle of the night? Was the seventeen year old a prostitute? Did she allow herself to be tied and willingly engage in sex? Why were there no indications that she struggled? Did the four people know one another? How? Why were all the deaths consistently disguised as accidents or suicides? Are they related? Who committed the murders? What is or are the motive(s)? Were the four victims involved in a religious cult? Is homosexuality involved? Do any of the murders or all of them have anything to do with aberrant sexual behavior? Why did Sandford call his book "Bad Blood"?
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of sixteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes Wagner and Drazin's latest book Let's Study Onkelos on www.ou.org/torah.