The first storm comes from, of all places, the Minnesota zoo. Two large, and very rare, Amur tigers have vanished from their cage, and authorities are worried sick that they’ve been stolen for their body parts. Traditional Chinese medicine prizes those parts for home remedies, and people will do extreme things to get what they need. Some of them are a great deal more extreme than others -- as Virgil is about to find out.
Then there’s the homefront. Virgil’s relationship wi th his girlfriend Frankie has been getting kind of serious, but when Frankie’s sister Sparkle moves in for the summer, the situation gets a lot more complicated. For one thing, her research into migrant workers is about to bring her up against some very violent people who emphatically do not want to be researched. For another…she thinks Virgil’s kind of cute.
“You mess around with Sparkle,” Frankie told Virgil, “you could get yourself stabbed.”
“She carries a knife?”
“No, but I do.”
Forget a storm – this one’s a tornado.
What I liked: I’m not going to regurgitate the synopsis because while the plot is gut chilling, the stars of Mr. Sandford’s books are always the characters and in my opinion, his writing style.
Virgil (that f**king Flowers) Flowers is case in point on the characters I absolutely love. I was a bit concerned initially because Virgil is so closely identified with Lucas Davenport of Mr. Sandford’s Prey series, and that series recently took a turn in which Flowers no longer works for Lucas. I had nothing to worry about though as Virgil’s antics more than kept me entertained and flipping pages.
When the Virgil Flowers’ series first started, he flitted from woman to woman but it seems now he pretty much has a steady girlfriend. At first I wasn’t sure how that was going to play with me either but Mr. Sandford has a way to draw you in and make you enjoy the story no matter what else is going on. I know I sure wouldn’t want to mess with Frankie whether Virgil was around or not. Course Frankie doesn’t want Virgil messing around with any other women and makes that point very clear to him when her sister comes to visit.
Virgil just seems like a very steady, smart, and likable guy, and an agent for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. While his character is very low on drama, he seems to attract more than his share. His laid back attitude, love of fishing and forgetfulness to carry a gun make him even more enjoyable for me to read. He’s not a Jason Bourne and that’s great because we almost have too many Jason-like characters being written. Don’t get me wrong, there is action but it’s not frantic, it’s all intriguing and keeps you focused on the characters and their actions and reactions.
I know exactly what I’m going to get when I read a book in this series and I don’t mean it’s a formulaic redo each book. The characters and their foibles drive the story, both Virgil and the bad guys. And of course in Escape Clause, Virgil’s personal life is more on display.
What I didn’t like: Here’s a big problem I foresee for some readers. There is animal abuse involved in Escape Clause and it is a bit gut wrenching. It’s a terrible thing and I was worried about it. It wasn’t over the top, which is a good thing and in the end there’s a great scene where………..nope, can’t go there. Sorry big spoiler!
Escape Clause is one of those expensive e-books ($14.99) I'm constantly harping on, so unless you are a die hard fan, you might want to get your copy from the library or a friend.
While I flip the pages very fast in any John Sandford book, it’s not the type to keep me revved up so that I dwell on it, which is a good thing.
I recommend this series to people who want an extremely creative, well written, bits of humor incorporated suspense book. While you could read Escape Clause as a standalone, I think you would miss out on so much, I wouldn’t recommend it. Virgil is a character to savor, so start at the beginning!
I was provided an ARC from NetGalley for a fair and honest review.