Bonnie and Clyde, they thought. And what's-his-name, the sidekick. Three teenagers with dead-end lives, and chips on their shoulders, and guns.
The first person they killed was a highway patrolman. The second was a woman during a robbery. Then, hell, why not keep on going? As their crime spree cuts a swath through rural Minnesota, some of it captured on the killers' cell phones and sent to a local television station, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers joins the growing army of cops trying to run them down. But even he doesn't realize what's about to happen next.
John Sandford is a terrific writer and the creator of both the Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers mystery series. Both series have given fans some great reads (or listens) and Sandford has certainly earned his place among the very best crime/mystery writers. I'm a fan and I've read (or listened to) everyone one of his books, many more than once.
I'm glad I read this latest Virgil Flowers mystery and, as a fan, will be unlikely to miss the next one. Mad River is an enjoyable, sometimes suspenseful listen. If you are a fan, its worth the credit.
That said, this is not the right book to introduce you to Virgil Flowers or to hook you on the series. Something is going on with John Sandford and it is not leading to great books. It seems Sandford is losing steam with both his series. Plots, character development, local color are all a bit less compelling than they once were.
Perhaps this is understandable with the long-running (22-book) Davenport series. But Sandford's Virgil Flowers offerings (of which this is the 6th) have seemed a fresh and exciting new start. That may yet prove out, but this latest novel is merely a good tale from an author we know can produce great ones.
Listening to Mad River was more like listening to a straight chronology of events than to a novel. The events were well-related and the new characters were engaging enough (although by no means compelling). But it seemed like this story was something Sandford just had to get off his chest, so he told it too straight. As a result, much of the spark Sandford brings to his tales (GREAT local color, plot twists, solid character development) are missing.
I don't want to be too harsh here. If we weren't talking about John Sandford here, the story would probably rate a 4 instead of a 3. I'm not sorry I spent time with this audio, and the plot was sufficiently interesting to be remembered. But if this type of story-telling is the new normal for John Sandford, I'm not sure how long I will be anxiously anticipating his next work.
The best advice I can offer (as others have) is that this is certainly a creditworthy mystery for the Virgil Flowers/John Sandford/Lucas Davenport fan. For everyone else, start with the earlier works and become a fan, first.
32 of 33 people found this review helpful
What could John Sandford have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Cut back on Sanford's meds and remind him what a GREAT character he invented to start a new series for us to enjoy.
What three words best describe Eric Conger’s performance?
Great as always.
Was Mad River worth the listening time?
Of course. How can you turn down Lucas Davenport (the Prey series) or Virgil Flowers' books!
Any additional comments?
I am a Devout Sanford reader. I have read all of his books a minimum of 3 times (usually more after all these years). I wait impatiently for his new releases. Unfortunately, I think Sanford is tiring out. Mad River felt as if it were a must 'write book', not one that Sanford really cared about. I know Lucas Davenport is getting long in the tooth, but Hey(!) don't give up on Virgil Flowers. He still has lots of spunk (lol), character and personality to last. To make this short: I waited a long time for the book and was sorely disappointed.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
Jimmy Sharp, Becky Welsh, and Tom McCall are three Minnesota teens who, without planning it, kill a store clerk. Then the three kill a second victim during a car jacking. From that point Sharp, Welsh and McCall decide to settle old scores, and the real killing begins. This book is much darker than anything Sanford has ever written. Sanford also delves into some serious moral and ethical questions that may make a listener uncomfortable, but those issues need to be addressed. Throughout this horrifying tale we meet victim after victim and each time hope "no, this person will not be murdered", but Sanford does not give us any reprieve from some truly evil killers. Virgil Flowers is haunted by the brutality of the murders, but he is determined to take the teens alive. However, his colleagues have different plans for how the end will come for Jimmy Sharp and Becky Walsh. Spend a credit, download the book and strap in for a wild ride!
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
John Sandford is my favorite mystery-thriller author. [Wouldn't mind knowing Virgil Flowers either.] So I enjoyed the book. But it's not up to par with Sandford's other books.
From start to finish it felt like Sandford was fulfilling a contract commitment and didn't have time to get inspired.
Note to Publisher: Please don't make him dumb down this series or the one with Lucas just to grind out more books!
I LIKE the social commentary, don't get me wrong. But I didn't learn anything new.
Another thing, the main characters use the same sentence structure, which I've noticed before. Breaks the spell. Maybe the next book could include disguising your identity in a sophisticated manner and Sandford could learn about changing sentence structure along the way?
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
This book sounds like Sandford had a quota to fill. We know some of the players but we don't learn anything more about them and the new players are thinly developed. Not much fun, easy to guess the ending, and not much of a story overall.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
Sandford's books are a compulsion with me. Whether for Davenport or that $%^ Flowers, they are always intricately constructed. Details are vibrant and always interesting. This one is once again worth the credit as were all the others I remember. I did a layover for an hour in Minnesota once, so hardly an expert on the area but it seems real as you listen and the can't put it down factor is high. Even a little twist at the end.
Buy this one, narrator is great and the entire production is worth the cost.
15 of 17 people found this review helpful
Im a huge Sandford fan. Mad River doesnt dissapoint. Good story, great characters, keeps your attention. Smooth story with great action and the depth of the characters is what sets his books apart, for me.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Easily the most driven and interesting of the Virgil Flowers books. As good as the Prey books with Lucas Davenport!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This started out as a great story and had me glued to my iPod until the story started to wrap up. I felt Virgil's anger at the actions of the local law enforcement officials. I looked forward to additional confrontations with Ag Murphy's husband. Despite the revelation at the conclusion of the book, I felt like I had been cheated by the way Sandford wrapped things up. It seemed like the author got tired of writing the book and created an ending that took the least amount of effort and words. With that said, I like Virgil Flowers and his passion in this novel will have me looking forward to the next installment. I just hope that Sandford spends more time with the complete story.
13 of 16 people found this review helpful
I would give this 3 1/2 stars if I could and Eric Confer turns in his expected laudable performance. This is just a decent entry compared to Sandford's best, though.
That said, Mad River is superior to most police procedurals/mysteries that come out. I love John Sandford's books and find them a great, light reading experience. While this isn't his best, I'd still recommend it.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful