Monday, November 18, 2019

Holy Ghost

Holy Ghost
by John Sandford
Recommended Ages: 14+

A womanizing wunderkind, a one-legged mayor who campaigned on a promise to do his best, and a shop girl cook up a scheme to bring crowds of the faithful to their small Minnesota town – using high tech to fake a few appearances by the Virgin Mary. For a while, this brings prosperity to the struggling little burg. Then another kind of opportunist takes aim – with a sniper rifle – and Virgil Flowers of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is on the case.

Early in the case, there are some promising suspects – but they come to a bad end, while the shootings go on. It is soon apparent that whoever's doing it has blended into the community so well that his next-door neighbor wouldn't suspect him. A couple of times, Virgil is actually chasing the guy but somehow loses him in streets where the killer evidently knows how to disappear. How can you even be sure he isn't the guy standing on the next stoop, waving and yelling, "He went that way!" It's the kind of Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd scenario that would be funny if people weren't dying.

This is the 11th of currently 12 Virgil Flowers novels by the author of the Lucas Davenport/Prey series, which is heading into its 30th book. That –—ing Flowers (as people generally call him, behind his back) is up to his usual brilliant detecting, but the danger for him and those close to him is real. He takes an arrow(!) in this outing, and half of the golf-hooligan duo of Shrake and Jenkins almost catches his death. A side helping of domestic violence keeps the plot twists nice and violent. But it's the final stalk of the bad guy – or girl – or both – that puts this adventure over the bar in suspenseful, psychologically twisted deviousness.

Book 12 in this series is titled Bloody Genius. Sandford's next novel, due for release April 21, 2020, is the Lucas Davenport novel Masked Prey.

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