A Virgil Flowers Mystery by John Sandford
Review: Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers is asked to assist a visiting Israeli agent in tracking down a scientist, who illegally took an ancient artifact from a dig in Israel back to the US, in Storm Front, the seventh mystery in this series by John Sandford.
Elijah Jones, a Lutheran minister and a professor at Gustavus Adolphus College just north of Virgil's hometown of Mankato, Minnesota, was supervising an excavation in Israel when his team discovered an inscribed stone, which was found missing — along with Jones — the next day. The Israeli police traced the professor's movements to the coastal town of Haifa, and then on to Cyprus, where he boarded a flight to Minneapolis. He was last seen at the Mayo Clinic, where he was being treated for advanced cancer, having only a few weeks to live. Virgil is immediately suspicious of almost every element of the search: from his guest partner, supposedly an investigator with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, but who everyone they meet believes is Mossad; to the authenticity of the artifact, which potentially can, as these things are wont to do, change the course of history; to Jones himself, a dying man, who managed to arrange a complex — and illegal — route of travel from Israel to Minnesota carrying a large, heavy package, all on presumably less than 24 hours' notice.
The premise of Storm Front is an intriguing, if also an overused and overworked, one, but the plot that is constructed in support of it here is really quite thin. Of more interest is a subplot involving a redneck woman and her family selling fake antique barn lumber, which, to be sure, is integrated into the primary plot in a fairly clever manner. The action, such as it is, moves along briskly for the first 150-200 pages, but then there is 100 or so pages of filler after Virgil locates the artifact then promptly (and somewhat improbably) loses it. Fans of this series, which is an offshoot of the author's Lucas Davenport mysteries, will probably enjoy following along with Virgil as tracks his way through south central Minnesota dealing with Israelis, Turks, a wayward Texan and the aforementioned redneck woman, but it's not the best introduction to the character for new readers.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided an ARC of Storm Front for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Putnam (Hardcover), May 2013
ISBN-13: 9780399159312; ISBN-10: 0399159312
Field of Prey
Putnam (Hardcover), May 2014
ISBN-13: 9780399162381; ISBN-10: 0399162380
Location(s) referenced in Storm Front: Minnesota
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Storm Front by John Sandford — A Virgil Flowers Mystery
Publication Date: October 2013
List Price: $27.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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