BAD BLOOD

Have you ever read a John Sanford book? If the answer is yes, good; if your answer is no, why the hell not? They’re fantastic. He’s been writing the Prey series for a LONG time, like maybe 20 years. I’ve read and loved all of them. They centre around the character Lucas Davenport, a Minnesota cop. He’s a hard ass and is more concerned with getting the bad guys, screw the rules and he’ll take the consequences that come of breaking the rules with aplomb because he knows it’s coming and because it’s less important to him at the end of the day than winning. He’s had his share of shit and he’s had some good stuff too. The character has really developed over the years. I wouldn’t call him lovable, but you’ve gotta admire his style, his brains and his guts.

Even without reading his jacket, it’s clear by the casual way he includes the geographical details that Sanford has spent many, many years living in Minnesota. I feel like I could probably navigate the area just with his books alone. Not that I have an overwhelming desire to go there because it’s cold. I mean like colder than January in Alberta cold. I’ll tell you two things: It gets frickin’ cold in Alberta in the winter and I HATE the cold.

A few books ago – 4? – Sanford/Davenport introduced us to Virgil Flowers, a fellow cop. The character grabbed my interest in a way that the Kidd novels (another offshoot) never did so that I eagerly await the release of his next case almost as impatiently as I do for Davenport’s. Then again, I love my cop dramas, so you could argue that I’m prejudiced in favour.

On to the book. Bad Blood is set out in rural Minnesota and as such, Davenport sends Virgil Flowers, his (thrice married and divorced, amateur outdoors writing, boat towing, fishing enthusiast,) roving cop to investigate a couple of deaths at the invitation of the local sheriff. There was the death of a farmer while he was weighing a load (they think it was a local sports hero) and the suspect was subsequently killed (they’re pretty sure who did that one too) but the murders prove to be just the tip of the iceberg. Enter Flowers and before you know it he’s linked more deaths to the case, a local fundamentalist church/cult from the old world and some really crazy-seeming hicks feature too. There is some really twisted thinking in this book. You’ve gotta wonder where Sanford gets his inspiration from, and in this case, hope it’s not a case of fiction inspired by fact because…gross!

There’s lots of action in the book; it’s pretty packed. The pace was really great – I actually resented having to go grocery shopping because I was just at that point where you know everything is about to break – it’s like when you’re just cresting the hill of a roller coaster right before the big downhill – but there was no food in the house and responsibility beckoned. What makes Sanford’s books great though is that they’re punctuated with crisp dialogue, good narration – he paints a picture of what backroads Minnesota is like so well that you think he might actually have been sitting in his truck staring at the scene as he typed – it’s not flowery or girly, it’s very matter-of-fact, and a logical acquisition of facts. The plots are classic but with excellently planned out twists and plausible villains (although it’s not often black & white).

I found Bad Blood to be a quality story with a satisfying conclusion. A great read and I have no reservations recommending it.

Don’t worry if you haven’t read a book from either series before. It’s not the kind where you have to start at the beginning and read your way through. Any necessary background gets quickly and efficiently communicated by Sanford without corrupting the current story. And if you’re hooked, which I personally think likely, the next Prey novel, Buried Prey, comes out in May.

And there you have my 2¢ for today.

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~ by leslies2cents on April 18, 2011.

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