Sunday, October 20, 2013

There’s Something Missing, Doncha Know

Storm Front (A Virgil Flowers Novel) – John Sandford (Putnam Publishing)

Full disclosure upfront; while I am a fan of John Sandford’s, Lucas Davenport series of Prey novels, up to this point I have not read any of his other characters, the technologist/artist Kidd and fellow police investigator Virgil Flowers.

While both Kidd and Flowers have crossed paths with Davenport, Storm Front  is my first foray into a Flowers book. All of Sandford’s characters have a certain wisecracking, whatever it takes attitude that is anchored by a certain Midwestern sturdiness. Flowers is certainly no exception. The story begins at the site of an archeological dig in Israel with an ailing Minnesota minister/college professor making off with what could be a game changing artifact.

Sandford laces the story with the usual band of colorful characters that ooze a certain outdoorsy, down home quirkiness. The hunt is on to try to track down not only the felonious Reverend, but to recover the artifact that could shake the foundations of world religions if it turns out to be legitimate. While I was starting to think that this could end being Sandford’s stab at Minnesota Davinci Code, he avoids the cliché by mixing things up with a few hapless, mis-adventurers trying to track down the ancient stone.

While the storyline continues to move at a leisurely pace, at points it begins to spin it’s wheels, losing traction as it continues to turn and turn in smaller circles.  While it takes some unexpected turns along the way, in the end Storm Front sputters and seems to be missing the same punch as the Davenport, Prey books. Not sure if it’s just a difference in series or if Sandford’s acknowledgement in interviews that he would be utilizing other writers to craft storylines so he could generate more books, that contributed to the shortfall.  

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