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Whenever you hear the sky rumble that usually means a storm In Virgil Flowers’ case make that two The exceptional new thriller from the writer whose books are “pure reading pleasure” Booklist The first storm comes from of all places the Minnesota zoo Two large and very rare Amur tigers have vanished from their cage and authorities are worried sick that they’ve been stolen for their body parts Traditional Chinese medicine prizes those parts for home remedies and people will do extreme things to get what they need Some of them are a great deal extreme than others as Virgil is about to find out Then there’s the homefront Virgil’s relationship wi th his girlfriend Frankie has been getting kind of serious but when Frankie’s sister Sparkle moves in for the summer the situation gets a lot complicated For one thing her research into migrant workers is about to bring her up against some very violent people who emphatically do not want to be researched For anothershe thinks Virgil’s kind of cute “You mess around with Sparkle” Frankie told Virgil “you could get yourself stabbed” “She carries a knife?” “No but I do” Forget a storm – this one’s a tornado


10 thoughts on “Escape Clause

  1. says:

    I received a free advance copy of this from NetGalley for reviewI’ve heard of having a tiger by the tail but this is ridiculousTwo rare tigers have been stolen from a Minnesota zoo and everyone fears that they have been taken to have their organs and bones harvested for ‘medicines’ that will fetch a fortune on the black market uirky cop Virgil Flowers is on the case but can he find the tigers before they’re killed and turned into expensive placebos for assholes?As usual in a John Sandford novel we get the parallel story of what the bad guys are up to as Virgil hunts them and things escalate with murder becoming part of the effort to cover their tracks Virgil is also contending with a serious distraction caused by the sister of his girlfriend getting on the bad side of some thugs when she tries to expose the abuse of illegal immigrant workers at a factoryAs I’ve noted in my other reviews of Sandford books I consider him the best at the beachairport reads that are always on the best sellers lists This isn’t ground breaking thrillercrime fiction but it is exceptionally well done thrillercrime fiction We get villains that aren’t just the standard Insane McGenius serial killers Although Sandford did a few of those back when they weren’t uite such a cliché The plotting is tight the action is great there’s a real sense of tension and momentum built up and he’s developed a collection of likable characters who populate both this series and the Prey books Virgil continues to be an interesting hero who sports vintage rock band t shirts and freuently forgets to get his gun out of his truck Overall Sandford's books are incredibly entertaining without feeling like they’re making you dumber by reading themSo why only three stars here? Frankly this one hit a personal pet peeve of mine I just do not enjoy reading about animals in jeopardy or being mistreated So I was constantly stressing about the fate of the tigers much than I do when fictional human characters are in trouble What? Don’t judge me That’s the only factor that kept me from calling it another 4 star thriller from Sandford that meets his usual standard of uality page turning


  2. says:

    It wasn’t so long ago that Virgil Flowers was just a cameo player in Sandford’s long running ‘Prey’ series supporting the main character Minnesota crime stopper Lucas Davenport But Flowers was always destined for bigger things Like Clete Purcell James Lee Burke’s crowd pleasing buddy to Dave Robicheaux the Davenport books lose something when Flowers isn’t there He’s a great counterpoint to the dapper and somewhat manic frontman; whereas Lucas is all sharp suits and flash cars Virgil is cowboy boots and a dusty truck Instead of confrontation he brings conciliation So it was no real surprise when the author decided to let the long haired charmer have a book all to himself This is now his ninth solo adventure This time around he’s called in to track down two Amur tigers who’ve been stolen from the Minnesota zoo Like nearly all of Sandford’s thrillers we know early on whodunit so it’s really all about the chase The uestion is even if he can can he catch the perpetrators will he find the tigers alive? The structure is one you’ll be used to if you’ve read this author’s books before and there are familiar faces and some carry over in respect of various background events but this is just window dressing and shouldn’t dissuade new readers from jumping right in There’s a side story here about a sister of Virgil’s girlfriend turning up to expose a factory’s abuse of immigrant workers it doesn’t take up much space nor does it add anything to the overall package But the further I got into the tiger chase the I enjoyed it The steps taken by police and criminals seem logical – if sometimes extreme – and there are one or two nifty wrinkles thrown in along the way This is easy reading fiction in the way that Michael Connelly and Lee Child churn it out And I don’t mean to diminish these writers in any way what I mean is that the structure is clean and linear you always know what’s going on and there is no confusing back and forth shunts in time or a myriad of characters to confuse you It’s simple high uality entertainment I thoroughly enjoyed itMy thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for providing an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


  3. says:

    Minnesota BCI agent Virgil Flowers returns in another entertaining novel from John Sandford Flowers is a laid back guy who dresses in jeans and the tee shirts of obscure rock bands and who spends the bulk of his time investigating rural crime He loves fishing and women though not necessarily in that order and is currently in a relationship with a woman named FrankieWhen two rare tigers are stolen from the Minnesota Zoo Virgil is assigned to lead the investigation Time is of the essence here for the fear is that the animals will be killed and that their body parts will be harvested for the Asian market in non traditional medicinal supplements At virtually the same moment Frankie's sister Sparkle comes to spend the summer with Frankie while she finishes the research for her dissertation The dissertation involves the exploitation of workers at a local canning factory and when Sparkle attempts to interview employees of the factory she uickly becomes the target of people who would rather that her investigation not be completedVirgil will have to devote some time to the problems that result from Sparkle's investigation but the bulk of his time is consumed in the hunt for the tigers and the tigernappers As usual in a Sandford novel the point of view shifts back and forth between Virgil and the gang that has taken the tigers and while there's a fair amount of violence in this book there's also a great deal of the humor that readers have come to expect from a novel featuring That Fin' FlowersIf I have any complaint about this book it lies in the fact that Sandford seems to be straining just a bit too hard with the humor elements of the book at the risk of becoming a bit too cute Also the subplot involving Sparkle's investigation didn't really add much to the book Still it's always fun to hang out with Virgil and this is a very entertaining way to lose a few hours 35 rounded up to 4 stars


  4. says:

    I'm a long time fan of John Sandford's books and have read all of them except the YA series The Virgil Flowers books are particular favorites because Virgil is just so lovableVirgil gets some pretty weird cases that at first seem simple but they always go awry His case in this book is to find two rare endangered Amur tigers that were stolen from a zoo and then murders happen Another case begins when Virgil's girlfriend Frankie is beaten by thugs mistaking her for her sister who is interviewing illegal workers for her dissertation Shrake and Jenkins along with an assortment of sheriffs deputies and local police officers assist Virgil Catrin Mattson investigates Frankie's case and I found her to be an interesting character I'd like to know about herThe usual banter and ribbing is apparent and that makes this book enjoyable But Virgil's case was slow going with driving here and there calling people talking to people Nothing seemed to happen and Virgil sat and thought about things I wish there'd been action One of the bad guys was eating Xanax like candy and I thought he'd OD before he got caught It appears Virgil and Frankie are getting serious and that's changed Virgil a little It reminds me of when another of Sandford's characters Lucas Davenport got marriedWhile this may not be the best Virgil Flowers book I enjoyed it and look forward to the next one


  5. says:

    Another winner from John Sandford Usually in a series there are some good books and then there are some that just aren't So far I have enjoyed all of the books in this series Virgil is just a “good ol’ boy” Part of what makes this series so good is the wit and dialog For example readers are probably aware that things have been getting serious between Virgil and his girlfriend Frankie In this story Frankie's sister Sparkle comes to visit and Virgil naturally observes that Sparkle is kind of attractive “You mess around with Sparkle” Frankie told Virgil “you could get yourself stabbed” “She carries a knife?” “No but I do”In this outing Virgil has double trouble First off a pair of rare Amur tigers are missing from the Minnesota zoo Since the zoo is state territory the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is called in and the case is assigned to their top investigator Virgil The fear is that they have been stolen for their body parts used in traditional Chinese medicine The pressure is intense from all sides Virgil's new boss at BCA; the media; and the public The time that goes by the likely the tigers will have been killed The other problem is on the homefront Sparkle's visit isn't just social She is working on an investigative report into migrant workers and there are some people who do not want Sparkle snooping around Some violent people Things really heat up when Frankie is mistakenly attacked Virgil obviously can't be assigned this case but you know he is going to be closely involved There is a great cast of characters in this story Sparkle and her priest bartender boyfriend Father Bill a homicidal animal rights activist a criminal mastermind who pops Xanax like candy and a half dozen brothers seeking vengeance and and you've got a great story At times while reading the parts dealing with the missing tigers I was reminded of the Coen brothers movie FargoNot sure where the title figures in on this story but definitely recommend Can't wait for the next Virgil Flowers book Deep Freeze which I see is due out in October 2017


  6. says:

    Same as his other books but with practical advice on how to steal a tiger I stole three so far and totally got away with it 35 stars


  7. says:

    Tyger Tyger burning bright In the forests of the nightWhat immortal hand or eyeDare frame thy fearful symmetry? From The Tyger by William BlakeWhen two rare – endangered – Amur tigers are stolen from the Minnesota zoo experts fear that the catnappers are tied to the illegal traditional Chinese medicine trade Zoo officials are desperate knowing that their beloved tigers may soon be killed I was prepared to dislike Escape Clause Animal abuse is repulsive to me Later when pythons are mentioned – those who know me know that I loathe snakes of any size – I was ready to cover my eyes and call it a day But enter Virgil Flowers – yes that Virgil Flowers the BCA’s fan tabulous Flowers How could I really dislike a book starring Virgil blooming Flowers?As the blurb indicates the case of the missing tigers is not the only storm on Virgil’s horizon Things at home in Mankato are raining down buckets of trouble too His girlfriend Frankie’s sister Sparkle shows up to do some research into local migrant workers and that spells trouble with a capital T that rhymes with V that stands for Virgil As in that’s who’s in the thick of it all Virgil finds himself running all over the Twin Cities chasing down leads as he looks for the missing tigers Things go from bad to worse Then when it all hits the fan at home he’s running back to Mankato some two hours awayThe criminals involved in the tiger caper are truly despicable creatures The idea of killing these gorgeous animals for their body parts is almost sacrilegious to me As I read I kept hoping that somehow these cats would get loose and turn on their tormentors Some of these men are not too bright Others are greedy One is greedy addicted to Xanax and sociopathic Will they get away with their scheme or will Virgil stop them in time to save the tigers ensuring that the thieves get their just desserts? Perhaps the tigers will have the last laugh? Frankie is not laughing back in Mankato after she runs into some trouble Can Virgil help fix that problem too?Speaking of laughs there are than a few chuckles in this book Virgil Flowers isn’t exactly a textbook cop He doesn’t look like one and he doesn’t act like one Add in some kooky secondary characters and bizarre situations for one Sparkle’s boyfriend is a Catholic priest and it’s a highly entertaining book Tiger killing and murders aside those parts are definitely not funny or even mysterious because we know all along who’s behind it The enjoyment comes from watching Virgil try to track them downI offer my apologies to the late great poetVirgil Virgil fearless FlowersWorking cases at all hoursIn the city at the zooDid he who made the cat make you? My thanks go to NetGalley Penguin GroupPutnam Publishing and the author for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my unbiased honest review4 stars


  8. says:

    I have read John Sandford's books over the years and have always enjoyed them especially when Virgil Flowers is front and centre Two rare and very large tigers have been stolen from Minnesota zoo and the belief is that they have been taken for their body parts which are extremely lucrative in the Chinese medicine market The action starts right away and it isn't long before we know who we are dealing with In some books this may spoil the storyline but Sandford has a way of making the chase so exciting that this perspective works While this is happening Virgil and his girlfriend Frankie's relationship is suffering as Frankie's sister has arrived to assist Frankie in chasing down a factory where immigrant workers are being abused Strong story with great characters another winner Thank you to Netgalley the author and publisher for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review


  9. says:

    Ah man I finished it Now I'll have to wait for who knows how long well maybe the author has an inkling for Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent Virgil Flowers to make his next appearance in printSigh You see over many years of reading the previous books in the series this I believe is the ninth as well as the author's Prey series featuring Lucas Davenport the two have made and stayed on my Top 10 list of all time favorite leading men But the free wheeling often irreverent Virgil beats the reserved Lucas hands down in my book except maybe in the 2011 TV movie Certain Prey starring hunky Mark Harmon as DavenportThe point is this opening this book like all that preceded it is like opening the door to welcome an old friend and I'm always sorry when our visits come to an endHere Virgil finds himself entwined in two concurrent plots starting with the apparent theft of two rare Amur tigers from the Minnesota zoo Tiger parts it seems are in great demand in traditional Chinese medicine and the race is on to find them before they're chopped ground and funneled into high priced vials Meantime Virgil's girlfriend Frankie's sister Sparkle visiting for the summer has put herself in the crosshairs of some very nasty people as she tries to get the dirt on mistreatment of migrant workers to finish her doctoral dissertation Because of his relationship with Frankie Virgil can't be directly involved with the latter issue although as usual the issue has a way of involving himThere's no shortage of action that includes plenty of blood guts gore and bawdy language And also as usual Lucas makes the occasional appearance if only by phone he was Virgil's boss at the BCI before getting fed up with the bureaucracy and leaving but the two remain in touch In the interests of full disclosure I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review So lest I be accused of being overenthusiastic in my opinion because of my prior relationship with Virgil I wish I'll nitpick a bit starting with the man himself He seems to have mellowed a bit here almost to the point of threatening his good ol' bad boy reputation But after all he is getting older and he appears to be happily settled down with girlfriend Frankie so maybe that's an inevitable progression The ending too kind of gnawed at me; it was tasty but a bit hard to swallow The verdict? It's another solid entry in the Virgil Flowers series and for those who may be concerned it stands alone well Highly recommended


  10. says:

    Another entertaining and enjoyable book in the Virgil Flowers series