By John Sandford
Center Point Large Print Edition, 2009
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - October 27, 2009
Remarkable skill is required to endow a principle character in a murder mystery novel with opposite characteristics in an entertaining and realistic way. John Sandford does it in his Virgil Flowers novels.
Virgil is no virgin, and while he loves flowers, hates violence and dislikes guns, he is no flower child, not entirely. He is both a laid back vacation loving fisherman but, when necessary, and then only when necessary and reluctantly, a dedicated non-let up cop who works long hours with little sleep. He listens to popular music, but has common-sense and a deep under-the surface intelligence; he writes perceptive articles for the New York Times.
He is fascinated with sex and women are fascinated with him – both in the novels and in the real world of the novels' readers. But despite his desires, he works to find the solution to crimes before sex, of course. Is this foreplay and do women see it as such? Yet, he thinks about God before he falls asleep.
He moves about with an air of ironic humor, which he doesn't seem to notice. Sometimes people around him feel the humor but cannot pinpoint it or express what they feel or see; they also note or at least sense the possible violence in the man, and seem puzzled by the cop who looks like a handsome nonchalant long-haired surfer. Is he the man who massacred the Vietnamese? They ask.
He is serious at work and respected by professionals, including his boss who hired him to solve difficult cases, yet he wears punky t-shirts that clearly shout out that he does not give a damn. The book has a youthful playful carefree humorous aura about it with a mature and serious patina of social concerns and obligations.
It is, in short delightful to read how Virgil acts and reacts and how he solves cases by insightful interrogations and dogged determination. There is all of this and a well-written non-letup engrossing tale.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible 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.israelbooks.com.