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John Sandford is a terrific writer and the creator of both the Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers mystery series. Both series have given fans some great reads (or listens) and Sandford has certainly earned his place among the very best crime/mystery writers. I'm a fan and I've read (or listened to) everyone one of his books, many more than once.
I'm glad I read this latest Virgil Flowers mystery and, as a fan, will be unlikely to miss the next one. Mad River is an enjoyable, sometimes suspenseful listen. If you are a fan, its worth the credit.
That said, this is not the right book to introduce you to Virgil Flowers or to hook you on the series. Something is going on with John Sandford and it is not leading to great books. It seems Sandford is losing steam with both his series. Plots, character development, local color are all a bit less compelling than they once were.
Perhaps this is understandable with the long-running (22-book) Davenport series. But Sandford's Virgil Flowers offerings (of which this is the 6th) have seemed a fresh and exciting new start. That may yet prove out, but this latest novel is merely a good tale from an author we know can produce great ones.
Listening to Mad River was more like listening to a straight chronology of events than to a novel. The events were well-related and the new characters were engaging enough (although by no means compelling). But it seemed like this story was something Sandford just had to get off his chest, so he told it too straight. As a result, much of the spark Sandford brings to his tales (GREAT local color, plot twists, solid character development) are missing.
I don't want to be too harsh here. If we weren't talking about John Sandford here, the story would probably rate a 4 instead of a 3. I'm not sorry I spent time with this audio, and the plot was sufficiently interesting to be remembered. But if this type of story-telling is the new normal for John Sandford, I'm not sure how long I will be anxiously anticipating his next work.
The best advice I can offer (as others have) is that this is certainly a creditworthy mystery for the Virgil Flowers/John Sandford/Lucas Davenport fan. For everyone else, start with the earlier works and become a fan, first.
32 of 33 people found this review helpful
This book sounds like Sandford had a quota to fill. We know some of the players but we don't learn anything more about them and the new players are thinly developed. Not much fun, easy to guess the ending, and not much of a story overall.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful