Bad Blood (Virgil Flowers, #4) By John Sandford

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    Another brilliant Virgil Flowers thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author.

    One late fall Sunday in southern Minnesota, a farmer brings a load of soybeans to a local grain elevator- and a young man hits him on the head with, was it a steel bar?, and then drops him into the grain bin as he first waits until he's sure he's dead, and then calls the sheriff to report the accident. Suspicious, the sheriff calls in Virgil Flowers, who quickly breaks the kid down.

    The next day the boy is found hanging in his cell. Remorse? Virgil isn't so sure. As he investigates, he begins to uncover a multigeneration, multifamily conspiracy - a series of crimes of such monstrosity that, though he's seen an awful lot in his life, even he has difficulty in comprehending.

    More importantly, he has to figure out what to do.

    Librarian's note: as of 2021, there are 13 volumes in the author's Virgil Flowers series. The last was published in April 2021. It is part of the Prey series but Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers share the billing - Ocean Prey. Bad Blood (Virgil Flowers, #4)

    Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: Is it possible to review a John Sandford book featuring Virgil Flowers without referring to his Marshall, Minnesota-based investigator as “that f***ing Flowers”? No, it’s not.

    Moving right along, then, Bad Blood is the fourth installment in the series that features the blond, truck-driving, boat-hauling, son of a Lutheran minister who works for the Minnesota BCA. When Virgil shows up in the town of Homestead to handle the case of a suspicious death, his reputation precedes him. Then the suspect is found dead in his cell of an apparent suicide, and from there, the plot thickens, as they say.

    The subject matter is disturbing. Not only are there multiple murders, but also sexual abuse of both adults and minors. There’s no great mystery here; it is obvious quite early on that there is something very wrong going on in the World of Spirit Church. Rather, the task facing Virgil and Sheriff Lee Coakley is how deep does the abuse go, and how do they prove it?

    Despite the very serious subject matter, this book is highly entertaining. Sandford is an excellent storyteller, and Virgil Flowers is not your everyday lawman. He’s a casual, down-home kind of guy who likes to schmooze with the locals and keep them up-to-snuff with what’s happening (sort of) in the investigation – because you just never know what information you might pick up in the Yellow Dog Café. He also doesn’t have great boundaries when it comes to women, so it’s no huge surprise when he and the lady sheriff, both divorced, do their own “under covers” work.

    There are lots and lots of names to keep track of in this one, both good guys and bad guys, and that got confusing, especially when the s**t hit the fan. There is a good deal of chaos and violence toward the end, so if sexual abuse and violence bother you, this might be one to skip. The church seemed too exaggerated to me, and I felt that it actually could have been a better story if the abuse had been toned down somewhat. I did like the sections where Virgil quoted Scriptures to church members in his attempts to get them to talk to him. I found myself smiling more than once at his many tactics during the course of this investigation. I sailed through this novel in a day, and I liked it. I liked the local flavor of the book. While Homestead is a fictional town, a town that is briefly mentioned, Sleepy Eye, is not. It happens to be my mom’s hometown, and that was a neat connection for me. I am conflicted about how to rate Bad Blood, since the subject matter was so intense, downright nasty, actually, yet there is humor and comic relief too. All in all, Sandford did a good job of telling the story and keeping me interested.

    3.5 stars
    Mystery Thrillers There’s not enough ‘W’s in the world to convey the ‘EWWWWWWWWWW!!’ factor of this book.

    In Homestead, Minnesota, a young man just out of high school with a bright future brutally murders a farmer and tries to make it look like an accident. However, his crime is discovered, and he’s found dead in his cell before he can explain why he did it. The boy's death looks fishy, and the chief suspect is a deputy that the new female sheriff just defeated in an election for the job so that’s a political shitstorm just waiting to happen. The sheriff comes to Virgil Flowers (a/k/a ‘that fucking Flowers'), agent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, for assistance. When Virgil starts digging into the case he finds some very shocking secrets and more than one person willing to kill to keep them.

    John Sandford delivers once again. Virgil is a spin-off character from Sandford’s Prey-series featuring Lucas Davenport, and while I’ve always liked this character, I hadn’t found any of the Virgil-based books quite as entertaining as the Davenport ones until now. There’s an intriguing mystery followed by some twisted revelations and then a series of intense and exciting action scenes. This was one bad-ass crime thriller.

    Virgil has always been fun reading as the outdoorsy ladies man who favors vintage rock band t-shirts and sometimes forgets his gun in his truck, but he's turning into a more fully formed character instead of just a collection of traits. Now I can’t wait until we see Virgil again instead of just thinking of him as an entertaining placeholder between Davenport novels.

    Random Thoughts

    * Davenport is starting to be a bad influence on Virgil because he does some highly illegal breaking-and-entering in this one, and he comes up with an elaborate scheme that puts a civilian in danger to flush out some of the bad guys. Those are some classic Davenport moves.

    * I continue to love the interactions between Davenport and Virgil, especially the way that Davenport’s more ruthless political side comes out when he’s giving Virgil his marching orders.

    * Virgil’s background as a minister’s son comes in handy when he gets to drop some serious Bible-knowledge on folks.

    * After 30 books, you’d think that Sandford would start to seem repetitive when it comes to describing brutal Minnesota winters, but he can still make me feel the wind chill.

    * Sneaky Virgil pulls a nice small-town trick by talking about the investigation openly in a diner. Before long, he’s drawing crowds who are anxious to hear the gossip, but he gets a lot of information and goodwill in return. Plus, he gets to stir up public opinion in a way that is beneficial to his investigation.

    * Again, just let me say, “EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!” Mystery Thrillers When Bobby Tripp, a popular high school athlete, brutally kills a farmer late one night at a grain mill in rural Minnesota, there seems to be no logical explanation for the crime. Bobby fails in his attempt to disguise the murder as an accident and is arrested. Shortly thereafter, he is found hanging in his cell, an apparent suicide.

    Lee Coakley, an attractive divorcee who is also the local sheriff, appeals for help from Virgil Flowers of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Coakley wants Virgil to investigate what role, if any, Jim Crocker, the deputy on duty, might have played in Bobby's suicide. Virgil agrees to help out and is immediately immersed in a complex situation involving a number of related crimes, many of which seem to center on the members of a secretive religious group in the small rural community.

    With that, the book is off and running, and the reader is hopelessly trapped in a story that he or she will have great difficulty putting down before the conclusion. Flowers, who has often been described as a younger, single version of Sandford's long-time protagonist, Lucas Davenport, is a great lead character and this is another very entertaining read. Very few writers are capable of successfuly combining humor with a series of grizzly, unspeakable crimes, but Sandford is one of the few who pulls it off without seeming to trivialize the brutal crimes that are at the center of the story. This is a book that will certainly be devoured by Sandford's legion of fans and one that should appeal to anyone who enjoys crime fiction. Mystery Thrillers Somebody recently asked, “If you could have dinner with any character from fiction, who would it be?” My immediate answer: Virgil Flowers. John Sandford has written a lot of books, and I’ve read most of them. I followed Lucas Davenport religiously through the Prey books, read the standalone novels, and didn’t much care for the Kidd novels. But Virgil Flowers is my guy.

    Virgil knows how to get to the bottom of things, and in Bad Blood, the bottom is not only complicated, it’s a long way down. A southwest Minnesota farmer is brutally murdered at the elevator as he delivers his soybeans. The murderer, a decent young man from a good local family, confesses to the sheriff, and the next day is found hanging in his cell. When the deputy on duty during the apparent suicide is also found dead, the sheriff realizes she needs help. Though both deaths appear to be suicides, the forensic evidence suggests otherwise. Enter Virgil Flowers.

    Flowers loves women. Married and divorced three times, Virgil has realized he falls in love too easily and has sworn off the taking of vows. That doesn’t mean he’s given up the fairer sex, though. In this book, he finds the sheriff herself, recently abandoned by her husband for another woman, to be not only an excellent investigator, but excellent in other ways as well.

    Virgil’s investigative technique is as unusual as he is. Raised nearby, the son of a Lutheran minister, Virgil knows how things go in small towns. He takes the sheriff to the local café, speaks clearly enough that the locals can overhear, and garners several important leads through the resulting firestorm of rumor and innuendo. He sets traps, calls in favors, interviews locals, and uncovers a crime so old and so massive that even he has trouble believing its scope.

    While I’ve always enjoyed Mr. Sandford’s Lucas Davenport novels, I can understand why he’s working on this series as well. Virgil Flowers is very different from Davenport, and must be tremendously fun to write. He’s both a cerebral and a spiritual guy, a BCA agent who wears his hair long and his cowboy boots scuffed. If you haven’t tried these books, please do. You won’t be disappointed.
    Mystery Thrillers A 911 call report of a fatal accident at a grain elevator. However, the medical examiner is 99% sure it's a murder with a blow to the head and no accident. The only person at the scene, a high school football star is arrested for the crime. The following day he's found dead by hanging in his jail cell. Suspicious, Warren County Sheriff Lee Coakley seeks Virgil Flowers to help investigate.

    As always John Sandford delivers another great crime thriller. I enjoy his writing and subtle humor where it's needed. Beware this one has some heinous sexual violence content. Mystery Thrillers


    Right off the bat I want to say that I am a huge fan of John Sandford. I have devoured all 20 of his Prey novels and each of the Virgil Flowers spinoffs. There are three other Virgil Flower novels: Dark of the Moon, Heat Lightening, Rough Country and now Bad Blood. Do you have to read them in order? No. Do you need to read them, yes. They rock. I find it incredibly hard to put any of his novels down once I get on a roll. The book just doesn’t want to leave my hand or my mind. Okay, I guess you have to understand that I like the guy’s style and substance.
    Bad Blood in my estimation is his best work to date with that %$#@Flowers. The dialogue in between the characters is incredible, the repartee fun and at times intense, and the action swift. I offer no spoilers as usual but here is a sample of the dialogue. ”Yeah, but….not like that. Not like some giant conspiracy. “Clinton said.” Then there was that whole thing about morals and good behavior. I’m not sure exactly… I’d like to know what their definition of ‘moral’ is. I mean ,you smell that place?”
    “You mean the soup? It smelled pretty good.”
    “I mean the smoke. The dope. The spliff, the ganj. As these good Germans would say, the dank.”
    Virgil put a hand to his forehead and rubbed. “That’s what it was. I was thinking it was some kind of herb in the soup.”
    “It is some kind of herb, but I don’t think it was in the soup, ”Clinton said,” I think it was in the curtains and the couch and the rugs. I think she was cooking up that soup to cover the odor. Those people are Christian fundamentalist stoners. I was sitting there grinning the whole time, listening to them. They were totally full of $%^&….depending on how you define moral.”
    ‘What is it with these guys?” Virgil asked. “These church people…I talked to one today who was carrying a gun in her pocket. I think some of them know more about Kelly Baker than they are saying, I think…”
    “I’ll tell you what it is,” Bill Clinton said,” What it is, is, something is seriously*&^%%$, I wish you luck in detecting what it is.”
    That came from page 125. The novel totally rocks the whole way through. The plotline is excellent and Sandford as his usual self just crafts another intense narrative with Flowers leading the way, turning over stones and pushing things to a conclusion. I really enjoy novels by the heavyhitters in the genre that continue to push themselves and not just mail it in. This is in my opinion the best Virgil flowers stand-alone of the bunch. If you are a fan of this character in any way shape or form then this is going to be a fun ride for you. If you are a first timer, then you are going to be getting an introduction to Virgil Flowers at his best. I would suggest then that you backtrack and pick up the rest after that.
    There are some very big novels coming out between now and Christmas, and John Sandford has set the bar very high. Tomorrow I am going to run a post with a preview of novels to come this fall and winter. I can guarantee that this novel will appear in the top 10 if not the top 5 for the quarter when we do our little top 20 list before Christmas. If you are a fan of excellent writing, enjoy a well-crafted plotline, humor, action, and great character driven fiction like I do , then this novel needs to be read. What is your favorite John Sanford novel? Is Lucas Davenport still numero uno or is Virgil working his way there?
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    Mystery Thrillers Bad Blood (Virgil Flowers, Book #4) was full of ups-downs and twists-turns.

    Virgil's assignment turned out to be exceptionally tough. Very upsetting to learn children were being sexually exploited and abused from very young ages as a common practice within the town church (often by family members) and unfortunately, this is a devasting part of our real-life world. Not an easy topic, yet one we cannot deny and must address.
    The way Virgil and his team tackled the problem was realistic. As always, he finds a love interest, continues to be insanely humorous and manages to always get the job done (with his charming Flowers pizazz) when the sh- - is about to hit the fan, and for me, is what makes his series a standout.

    Glad I finally got to this book, and plan on continuing with the rest of the series. Mystery Thrillers I finished another Virgil Flowers book. I love these books. He is one of my favorite characters. I also like Will Trent from Karen Slaughter's novels. I try to read every book with him in it also. I have enjoyed John Sandford's book for quite a while and my mystery book club chose to read Holy Ghost in April and I realized again how much I enjoyed his books. This book had a lot of excitement and intrigue. Virgil opened up a big sex ring and child abuse ring in a small town that protrayed itself as a church. I could not put this book down. very quick read. Mystery Thrillers Short reviews of wonderful Virgil, sorry.

    This was very good, complex, interesting characters. Mystery Thrillers This book makes me wish for a no stars option.

    Normally I enjoy this series both for the pace and the plotting. Not this time. The sexual abuse of women and children is ugly, and perhaps Sandford was trying to make that point. I couldn't help thinking that his depiction of sexual abuse of women and children for the purpose of entertainment (and let's not forget profit) was just as ugly. And it was made worse because I was listening to an audiobook and I couldn't skip over the more graphic sections the way I usually do. Now those images are stuck in my head.

    And on a less serious note, the amount of product placement in these books is getting ridiculous. Vehicles, motels, soft drinks, frozen dinners, you name it. It's almost entertaining seeing how he can work discussions of the products into the story lines. The Tahoe/Tundra conversation was so contrived as to be ludicrous. I don't know if this is getting worse, or if I noticed it more because I had to listen to every word.

    Mystery Thrillers