Friday, October 19, 2018

Deep Freeze

Deep Freeze
by John Sandford
Recommended Ages: 14+

In the 10th Virgil Flowers novel, the Minnesota Burea of Criminal Apprehension's most easy-going investigator returns to Trippton, the riverside town where he previously arrested the entire school board for murder. This time, he is called out to catch the killer of a beautiful banker who was apparently killed by a fellow member of her high school class reunion committee.

While Virgil gets closer to figuring out who done it, several red herrings are dragged across the trail - including a rough-trade boy toy, a married ex-boyfriend with an explosive temper matched only by that of his wife, a transgender ex-husband whose business is on the rocks, and a couple whose hopes for a business loan were about to be shot down by the victim.

Even though the reader knows who killed the homecoming queen right from the start, it is thrilling to watch Virgil and the characters around him navigate the perils of Trippton - including a killer who is prepared to kill again if it serves his interests. Meantime, the main character continues to reshape the idea of a tough-guy detective, as he continues to exhibit a reluctance to carry a gun, gets beaten senseless by a group of women, and has his beloved pickup shot out from under him.

It's sexy, funny, murderous fun with a slice of life in a small Minnesota town that cuts through all the layers of the social pie. It also serves a bracing snort of local color at the time of year when the Mississippi is frozen over, a side of Minnesota that many miss because they flee to warmer climes during the winter. I myself did most of my John Sandford reading from the relative warmth of Missouri; this was my first return to his series of mystery thrillers since I moved back to Minnesota last winter, and I believe in the lyric precision of his landscape writing more strongly than ever.

The 11th Virgil Flowers novel, published in October 2018, is titled Holy Ghost. Meantime there are going-on-29 Lucas Davenport novels, some of which also have Virgil as a character; the latest is currently Twisted Prey. Enjoy!

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