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Bad Blood [Mass Market Paperback]

John Sandford
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 27 2011 A Virgil Flowers Novel (Book 4)
Two bodies in two days. One is murder. The other is suicide. Virgil Flowers never imagined that discovering the connection would lead him into the perverse history of the Minnesota farm community, and almost unimaginable darkness.

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Product Description

About the Author

John Sandford is the author of twenty-two Prey novels, most recently Stolen Prey; the Virgil Flowers novels, most recently Shock Wave; and six other books. He lives in Minnesota.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty, pulpy, action-packed Dec 18 2013
By Rob Slaven TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As usual, I received this book from a GoodReads giveaway. It's also worth noting that this novel belongs to a genre that is normally not among those I pick up for frequent perusal. Because of this I'm reviewing a bit outside my ken.

In a nutshell, Sandford's novel is about as pulpy as it gets: gritty, action packed and completely unapologetic about it. Despite the fact that this is not a genre I tend to pick up, and I'm not likely even now to start, I did find myself dragged along quite against my will once having started. Sandford's style is marvelous and it's obvious that he's been doing writing in this vein for quite some time. Easily the best I've read in the crime-action genre.

My only real complaint is that he does tend to go over the top. His dramatic conclusion reads more like a scene from a war movie than a police action. If this sort of thing regularly occurs then I'm rather surprised there are any cops left to keep the peace.

That aside, Sandford's writing is solid and his topic engaging. For those who enjoy work in the CSI realm this is a grand example of the genre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ever since John Sandford introduced Virgil Flowers I have been entranced with this character's paradox of a personality. Funny, serious, intelligent, poor judgment, good looking, bad clothes, well read, rock junkie etc.

I was looking forward to this new story and was very disapointed. The thin plot made no sense to me. I read every word and line and about halfway, I started talking to the book's pages. Asking questions, pondering, maybe this will be resolved at the end. It never was.

Examples:
1. Why would a highly secretive and controlled group of abusive men, leave a naked body of a young female in a cemetery? which is how this whole chain of events began. It's hinted that other women were killed and disapeared (buried behind the house in the woodlot) over several decades. Nobody asked the question and I got no answer....
2. If every one was doing every one for this long, there must have been some unwanted pregnancies with the younger girls, did they always use condoms? how is that possible when 8 men are going at one girl in a pool? Nobody asked, got no answer...
3. In the same vein, how did the women know whose child they were having? you get the drift.
4. Virgil as charming and sexy as he sounds, got a little boring by the end. Gets another bed partner by batting his eyelashes, she wears him out. He wants more. Would have been such fun if the tables were turned and some incredible female gave HIM the run around for a change.
5. Virgil says he wants to find love and not be in-lust. Well does he? I find immature male character behavior a trial after a while. Davenport got his act together eventually. Much more believable.

I don't know what happens to bestselling writers, somehow the quality and editing goes down, as their bank account balance and their publishers go up.
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2.0 out of 5 stars too many characters Dec 20 2013
By rob
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Funny... I liked all the Lucas davenport books and they were a great read. But with all of the Virgil flowers books (just finished number 4 in the series) I find there are so many characters I lose track of who's who!

I will continue to read more of the flowers series because I like the story .
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read Dec 10 2011
By sanfan
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you are comfortable witt the topic, you will love the book. Enough action and suspense to make it difficult to put down.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  309 reviews
129 of 139 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Virgil Flowers tries to lighten up a very dark subject Sept. 21 2010
By Richard Cumming - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In "Bad Blood" Virgil Flowers is brought in to investigate a strange murder at a rural Minnesota grain elevator. A farmer had pulled in with his truck of grain. The young man working at the elevator retrieves his baseball bat and sneaks up behind the farmer. He clobbers the unsuspecting man then tries to make his death look like an accident, but this killing was clearly premeditated. Flowers is called in to this area where murders rarely occur by the new sheriff, an attractive woman named Lee Coakley. There's clearly a spark struck between them from the start.

But no time for romance yet. Crimes must be investigated. Within the first 40 pages there are 4 deaths, the farmer, then the young man who supposedly killed the farmer, then the cop who was guarding the young man in jail. Flowers is puzzling over these sudden deaths when he hears about a 4th death; an unsolved murder of a young woman that took place down south of the town, just across the Iowa state line, a year ago. That killing looked like a sex crime. Virgil is intrigued.

He discovers a key link between these 4 deaths: every one of the dead belonged to a mysterious religious cult. Flowers digs deeper and begins to suspect that this "religion" conceals a vast and enduring front for widespread child abuse. No spoilers here; I'll leave the joys of Virgil's sleuthing and his budding relationship with the sheriff for readers to savor for themselves.

Sandford performs a bit of literary derring-do here. He has his wise cracking, fun loving Virgil trying to solve a case that might involve a most horrific network of pedophiles. Child abuse is not funny. Virgil is. The combo actually works. Virgil lightens it up just enough to make all the dark parts not quite as sickening. Sandford does a splendid job on this one.

This reviewer's favorite moments occur when Virgil is always prepared to argue scripture with any cult member who tries to fling the words of the Bible Virgil's way. Virgil is the son of a Lutheran minister. He knows his scripture inside and out. He has realized that these sicko religious nuts have taken selected passages from scripture to try to justify and validate their perverted faith. "T is a thing of beauty indeed.
45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the Virgil Flower Books Sept. 23 2010
By carol irvin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I read the latest Lucas Davenport novel by sandford, which also came out this year. Although I enjoyed it, it had a problem with being a bit all over the map with plots, subplots and too many characters. Thus, I thought Sandford was winding down in his writing career. This, the best of the Virgil Flowers' novels, shows I couldn't have been more wrong. This book is very tightly focused, has just the right amount of characters and has a terrific plot to boot.

As usual, this is set in a section of Minnesota which is small town, rural and in which people are leading out of the mainstream lives. Last novel it was a town full of vacationing lesbians. This time it is a religious cult which has been home grown since the 1800s, which involves extreme sexual deviance. Suddenly, the town goes from one murder to four murders. All murder victims had some contact with the cult. This brings the state Criminal Bureau into town along with its lead roving detective, Virgil Flowers, who walks around town more like the roadie for some touring rock group than an investigator hunting down a cult. That he forgets to wear his gun most of the time is part of the problem and why he always has to drag out identification.

Many of the Virgil Flowers' books have a terrific shootout, like the OK Corral, occur at some point. This book has an absolute doozy of one, an all time high. Also one of the best vengeance scenes I've ever read.

This is Sandford at his best. I read it in 24 hours.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Virgil Flowers series is the best and this book is great..... Sept. 24 2010
By kindle addict - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
The Virgil Flowers series is a well-written, interesting, captivating series. Virgil is a lawman in Minnesota and gets involved in big cases. This one is about the separate but intertwined murders of four people, all of whom are involved in a small, fundamentalist, local religion which the members keep very private. Some of the members are involved in incest, rape, and sexual deviancy with children. It is up to Virgil and a local female sheriff to solve the murders and to save the children of the religious group who are being abused. John Sanford's writing is very good; he also writes the Prey series, and the Virgil Flowers series is a spinoff of the Prey series. This book held my attention all the way through and already has me salivating for the next in the series. The formatting for the Kindle is excellent. I highly recommend this book and series.
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacks suspense but is still readable Oct. 18 2010
By Patrick J. Sullivan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
John Sandford's latest entry in his Virgil Flowers series suffers from a lot of flaws but is ultimately still an acceptable read. Sandford is a very competent writer, so even when he's not writing at his best the resulting work is usually better than much of what lesser writers are putting out there. Still, Sandford has done and can do much better, and I think in the Flowers series he sometimes really lets himself go and indulges some of his sloppier failings.

Like its predecessor Flowers novels, Bad Blood doesn't supply too much in the way of suspense or mystery since as has been his habit of late, Sandford in many scenes throughout the book places the reader inside the heads of the very dysfunctional and unlikable perps. This doesn't really enhance the enjoyablity of the story, and it makes much of the weight of keeping the reader's interest fall on the dialog (entertaining in general) and the usual apocalyptically violent shootout ending which has become an expected inside joke both among Flowers' fictional colleagues and Sandford's readers.

Sandford has mined the child sex crime scene before for plots and no doubt will again. This is clearly an issue close to his heart and on the one hand he's to be commended for not shrinking from the unpleasant details. But, there's also such as thing as needlessly describing in too graphically detailed a manner exactly who placed which implement or body part into which juvenile character, how many times, when, and at which locales. I don't object out of prudery - if he'd written a book with graphic sex scenes between adult characters, that would be completely different - but out of squeamishness. After a while I was flinching as I turned the pages. Other writers, using both fiction and nonfiction, have managed to raise awareness of child (sex) abuse without skirting so close to the line dividing reportage from child pornography.

There were times when I wondered if perhaps the general plot had been left over from an idea that Sandford had in the late 1980s and never developed then. Fifteen to 30 years ago there was a spate of first real, and then hysterical and false allegations of vast child sex rings in day care centers, churches, schools, etc. The ones that almost always turned out to be false simply because they were too big to be true were of the type encountered in this book: very extensive, long-lasting, relatively out in the open, but nevertheless largely unsuspected by the community's other residents. It just doesn't ring true that something this big could have gone on for so many decades unsuspected.

I did like the rural setting of southwestern Minnesota near the Iowa border. Sandford's major character, Lucas Davenport, is chained to the Twin Cities. Sandford uses the free-ranging Flowers to place other parts of the state on display. Most of the banter and flirtation between Flowers and the local lady sheriff is entertaining. I liked how the rural cops were out of their league in terms of lacking the experience to deal with a spate of murders rooted in a child abuse ring, yet not necessarily hopelessly incompetent or stupid.

All in all Bad Blood is an easy to devour airplane-type read. To digress, I don't quite understand why Amazon reviews have become dominated by the 5-star or else mentality. It makes it really hard for those for whom a certain author is not a must-read to distinguish between all the books that average 4 stars, since that's almost everything of late. (Bad Blood's relatively low 3.8 ranking is mostly driven by some 1-star reviewers unhappy with the Kindle price). This isn't a jab aimed at those who gave this novel five stars. I just wonder if perhaps too many readers are only reviewing books they found worthy of five stars, and then perhaps at the other end books they hated enough to get energized about and warn other against.

So I don't know if it's grade inflation or a self-selection bias or both that creates a largely unhelpful inverted bell curve to the review set of so many books, but I think the only cure is for more readers to go out of their way to review books they found to be 2-, 3-, and 4-star reads, and not just waste all your ammo on the few books we find to be truly superb or dreadful. Just my suggestion / plea.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Young blood, young blood, I can't get you out of my mind." Song Lyrics Dec 28 2010
By michael a. draper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In southern Minnesota, Robert Tripp, an employee at a grain company, kills Jacob Flood, a local farmer. When Tripp is questioned by the police, Sheriff Lee Coakley breaks his story and jails him. That night, Tripp is murdered in his cell.

When Sheriff Coakley learns this, she suspects that one of her men, Jim Crocker, is involved. Because of the internal politics, she calls in investigator Virgil Flowers, from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

When Virgil goes to Crocker's home to question him, he finds Crocker murdered and made to look like he committed suicide. This area of Minnesota has very few murders and Virgil thinks that they must be connected.

Virgil looks at the three murders and is informed that a forth victim, a young teenage girl, Kelly Baker, was found in a cemetery.

In attempting to tie the murders together, Virgil finds that Tripp was gay and that Baker had some extreme sexual activity and abuse prior to her death.

One of the first people he speaks to is Flood's wife, Alma. She informs him that Crocker and her husband were childhood friends and that may have given him a reason for killing Tripp. Alma also admits that Kelly Baker was a member of their church.

Since the church affiliation was coming up more often, Virgil told Alma that his father was a minister and quoted verses from the bible but Alma didn't catch the biblical connection. Sensing a fraud, Virgil begins looking closer at just what is going on with the church.

He beings to get facts that astound him and the facts are hard for him to believe. There appear to be over a hundred families in this church and they are involved in a multigenerational sexual activity including rape, incest, and child abuse. He wonders how he will be able to stop this perversion.

The church members won't talk about it but he must find a weak link. Where to look?

This is an extremely well plotted and suspenseful novel that the reader will find captivating. Virgil is a wise cracking, bible quoting cop who is dedicated to finding wrongs and correcting them, however, he doesn't mind some extra curricular activity with Sheriff Lee Coakley.

Highly recommended.
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