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Publisher's Summary

Virgil Flowers will have to watch his back - and his mouth - as he investigates a college culture war turned deadly in another one of Sandford's "madly entertaining Virgil Flowers mysteries" (New York Times Book Review).

At the local state university, two feuding departments have faced off on the battleground of science and medicine. Each carries their views to extremes that may seem absurd, but highly educated people of sound mind and good intentions can reasonably disagree, right? 

Then a renowned and confrontational scholar winds up dead, and Virgil Flowers is brought in to investigate...and as he probes the recent ideological unrest, he soon comes to realize he's dealing with people who, on this one particular issue, are functionally crazy. Among this group of wildly impassioned, diametrically opposed zealots lurks a killer, and it will be up to Virgil to sort the murderer from the mere maniacs. 

©2019 John Sandford (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“[A] smartly plotted mystery.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Sandford is a terrific storyteller who can spin an intriguing tale without having to fill it with death-defying mayhem.... Armchair sleuths who are intent on solving the crime for themselves will need to be on their toes.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Compulsively readable.... Readers who like a bit of unrepentant wiseass in their sleuths will find Flowers fits the bill. Sandford makes blending humor and mystery look easy.” (Publishers Weekly

“Flowers remains one of the great modern fictional detectives, and Sandford, as always, supplies amazing secondary characters, sharp dialogue, and plots that confound and amaze. A near-perfect crime novel.” (Booklist, starred)  

What listeners say about Bloody Genius

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Virgil calls in some old friends...

A Minneapolis medical research professor is murdered in a University library. Virgil Flowers is called in to help when the local police hit a brick wall in their investigation. Initially resistant and not quite getting Virgil’s sense of humor, he tells the Chief of Police that he’s not interested in taking any credit when the case is solved, which at first he thinks will take a day. After all how many enemies could one professor make? In this guy’s case many. He has two ex wives and a current wife. He has money, he’s involved with prostitutes, drugs, a daughter who butted heads with him, blackmail and more. There are so many red herrings that throughout the story you change your mind about the killer at least five or more times. I didn’t see who it was until the person was actually revealed and then said Oh Yeah, of course because the clues are there all along.
Eric Conger does an excellent job narrating.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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74 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Just ok.

Just ok. I've read all the Sanford books through the years and I've enjoyed the Virgil character. This book was disappointing. Not terrible, not a page Turner either. Just ok.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing addition to a great series

Found the plot uninteresting with unmemorable characters. While book just felt flat to me...whereas previous Flowers books I have enjoyed immensely.
For me it lacked the underlying wit and repartee between Flowers and those around him. This book reminded me of seeing a concert with a performer that usually highly entertains but puts on only a pedestrian performance.

12 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Sad I Couldnt Finish It

SOOO many unnecessary, gratuitous references to female anatomy.... Adds nothing to story, which was quite good. Just got tired of hearing it. Some of us are still offended by trash talk. Totally unnecessary..it defined the character the first time he used it. No reason except shock value after multiple times.

Sad that such a good story was ruined by this and sorry the author felt the need to use repetitiously. Ruined the book for me.

You can do better than this, Mr. Sandford.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Ummmm... Are you there John Sanford?

As with the Davenport thrillers, I anxiously await the new Flowers installment immediately upon finishing the last. Ive been counting down the days for this one for the past month. Yuck. Where is the Virgil we all know and love? This character is not “him”. As another reviewer observed, *all* the characters are flat. The book jumps all over the place, which would have been fine if they would have followed up on any of the directions it turned. Yes, he discovers the culprit, but you’re left hanging on the several other plot lines he opens in the process, including stumbling across another murderer and his reaction is to say “meh, it’s not the one I’m personally pursuing, so screw it.” That is not Virgil’s style. And where is Johnson Johnson? Also, (***spoiler alert**) ——- is Frankie going to be pregnant for 2 years? Highly annoyed that it wasn’t included in this book... they announced it a year ago in last years Flowers novel, and “checked in” on the situation during April’s release of the Davenport installment, soooo... What gives? Anticlimactic, flat, missing the old Virgil - the depth of relationships he always develops with the characters around him, his nightly thoughts of God and “what it all means and why”, and .. well.. he’s cranky. Will the real John Sandford please stand up? Oh, and bring the real Virgil back upon your return.

8 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

Not Sanford's best work by a long shot

Starts weird, and basically goes nowhere. Very limited suspense. usually love most of Sanford's books, but this one is a miss.

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Not up to snuff

this book is not as good as some past novels. As time goes by it seems Sanford uses more and more profanity. Even though it seems to be a sign of the times and I am far from a prude, it does not do much to add to the story. It seems authors in general are putting out too many books to make a buck, rather than the quality of some of their previous works.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Professor Quill bashed on the head, with a computer, in the library.


The well-known professor is engaged in highly sensitive research at a university, so there are many uni characters and several subplots to do w faculty and students. Add rather boring interdepartmental rivalries; the reddest of red herrings; sex in library carrels; and mystery women sneaking about the campus. It would’ve helped if the supporting characters were more likable. Here’s the capper: after making it past all the overly red herrings, the murderer was disappointingly unbelievable.

Truth is, I like the Virgil Flowers books more than the Lucas Davenport series. Unfortunately, this entry is subpar, and had I read this on Kindle, I may not have finished it. Eric Conger, who is a superb audiobook narrator, saved the story for me w his fantastic voice-acting.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Virgil Flowers

Lucas Davenport books are good but Virgil are great. I hope Lucas is not hurt by this.

1 person found this helpful

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One of his best.

Love Virgil Flowers. One of John Sanford’s best characters. Great story.
Interesting intertwined casts of multi characters.

1 person found this helpful