4 stars out of 5
Not long ago, I was challenged to come up with a Top 10 list of all-time favorite book "heroes." Sandford's Virgil Flowers came in at No. 7 (though my ranking for 7 through 4 are pretty much interchangeable depending on how much I enjoyed the most recent book). Nothing in this one changed my mind - that fu**in' Flowers is still a hoot and this, the eighth in the series, is another winner.
What makes me love him so much? I'm not totally sure, except to say that unlike his boss, the richer-than-God Lucas Davenport (the main character in another Sandford series), ol' Virgil still has a hint (okay, more than a hint) of maverick in him. Then too, there are the wisecracks (although not always coming from Virgil), to-wit:
"It's darker in there than a black cat's ass in a coal mine."
"Coyotes don't eat dachshunds."
"It's a fu**in' Chihuahua. It's practically a fu**in' hamster."
And if that isn't enough, what's not to love about a guy whose favorite brewski is Leinenkugel?
As you might suspect, this one has gone to the dogs. There is, it seems, a whole lot of dognapping going on; at the request of a friend, Virgil starts a mostly unofficial investigation of the apparent theft of dogs from local owners in rural southeast Minnesota. Most likely, the theory is, the kidnappers are rounding up the canines to sell to medical labs for research purposes.
Then comes a call from boss Davenport; a local newspaper reporter has been found murdered, and this investigation is an official assignment. So, for the most part the other investigation goes to the dogs while Virgil follows clues to track down the killer and finds himself in the middle of a hugely lucrative embezzlement scheme involving, of all things, members of a local school district's board of education.
There aren't a lot of surprises here, nor are there meant to be; for the most part, the bad guys and gals are known pretty much from the git-go. The fun comes in the where, when and how of nailing down the evidence so arrests can be made (with not a few more dead bodies turning up along the way).
I won't say this is the best-ever entry in this series, but it's still a hoot and, IMHO, well worth the relatively short time it takes to read.
Deadline by John Sandford (Putnam Adult, October 2014); 389 pp.