Friday, February 10, 2017

Escape Clause (Virgil Flowers #9) by John Sandford

Title: Escape Clause (A Virgil Flowers Novel)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Crime Fiction/Thriller
Series: A Virgil Flowers Novel (Book 9)
Format: Hardcover; 400 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; 1St Edition edition (October 18, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0399168915
ISBN-13: 978-0399168918
Author's Website:
Notes: I borrowed this one from the library.

“Somebody stole the Amur tigers from the zoo last night,” Duncan said. “Apparently shot them with a tranquilizer gun and hauled them out of there. Since it’s a state zoo, it’s our problem.”

“What? Tigers?” 

“Yeah. Somebody stole the tigers . . . two Amur tigers. Pride of the zoo. Listen, man, you’ve got to get up here,” Duncan said. “There’s gonna be a media shitstorm starting tonight on the evening news.” (...) “We’ve got to find them, and we have to be quick about it. I know that puts pressure on you, but we can only think of three reasons for somebody to steal them.” 

“Which are?” Duncan had pulled a plastic chair into the office from the outer room, and Virgil took it and sat down. 

“One, it’s an anti-zoo nut,” McCall said. “Those people are mostly talk, as unpleasant as they can be. Two, it could be somebody who deals in live exotic animals—there’s a lot of that down in Texas and owning tigers is more common than you’d think. There might be five thousand privately owned tigers in the U.S. And three, and this is the worst possibility, it’s somebody who wants to sell the tiger . . . parts . . . to be used in traditional Asian medicine. Almost all the parts are used in one form or another. That would involve killing the tigers, of course.”

With little to go on and more false leads than true Detective Virgil Flowers has his work cut out for him.
This is the ninth novel in the Virgil Flowers series. From what I can gather, this is a spin-off series to Sandford's Prey series. If you haven't read the previous books in the series, don't worry. While I might have missed out on some of the nuances of the relationships between characters, I didn't feel lost. In other words, the book didn't piggy back on any other of the books.

An escape clause is a clause in a contract that specifies the conditions under which one party can be freed from an obligation. While no contract exists between the criminals in this novel, the main thief has found another way to escape his obligation for sharing the small fortune he'll make off of selling the parts of the two stolen tigers and that's to kill his associates. From the beginning we know who stole the tigers and why and we anxiously await for Virgil to zero in on the thieves. As the bodies start piling up, Virgil gets closer and closer to putting the pieces of the puzzle together as he starts following the trail of breadcrumbs that lead to the murderer/thief. I'm not usually a fan of books which give the points of view both the villain and the hero, but this book was a little bit like watching a face paced chess match. Both opponents jockeying for position while strategizing their next move based on what the other did. I rather enjoyed it.

Meanwhile a secondary story revolving around Frankie's younger sister, Sparkle, strikes a little closer to home. In a case of mistaken identity Frankie is attacked when thugs decided to make their displeasure at Sparkle poking her nose where it's not wanted. Sparkle is doing research into the mistreatment of migrant workers and it appears someone is not happy.

Overall I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. It was a fast paced novel with a lot going on to keep the reader's interest. There was plenty of murder, mischief, and mayhem to go around with a little bit of skinny dipping on the side.  A highly entertaining read with well rounded cast of characters.

Order of the Virgil Flowers series:

1 comment:

  1. Virgil Flowers catches some unusual cases for the Minnesota BCA and this one is no exception - two rare tigers have been stolen from a local zoo and it's up to Virgil to find them, preferably alive. Meanwhile his girlfriend Frankie's sister, Sparkle, shows up and causes some trouble.
    Action-packed as always and great characters involved in a gripping tale - I highly recommend this and all John Sandford books.

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