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Bonnie and Clyde, they thought. And what's-his-name, the sidekick. Three teenagers with dead-end lives, chips on their shoulders, and guns. The first person they killed was a woman during a robbery. The second was incidental. Simply in the way. Then, hell, why not keep on going? It's not until Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers steps onto the Shinde Bonnie and Clyde, they thought. And what's-his-name, the sidekick. Three teenagers with dead-end lives, chips on their shoulders, and guns. The first person they killed was a woman during a robbery. The second was incidental. Simply in the way. Then, hell, why not keep on going? It's not until Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers steps onto the Shinder murder scene that the clues begin to come together. As their crime spree cuts a swath through rural Minnesota, it's a growing army of cops who join Virgil in trying to run them down. But even Virgil doesn't realize what's about to happen next.


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Bonnie and Clyde, they thought. And what's-his-name, the sidekick. Three teenagers with dead-end lives, chips on their shoulders, and guns. The first person they killed was a woman during a robbery. The second was incidental. Simply in the way. Then, hell, why not keep on going? It's not until Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers steps onto the Shinde Bonnie and Clyde, they thought. And what's-his-name, the sidekick. Three teenagers with dead-end lives, chips on their shoulders, and guns. The first person they killed was a woman during a robbery. The second was incidental. Simply in the way. Then, hell, why not keep on going? It's not until Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers steps onto the Shinder murder scene that the clues begin to come together. As their crime spree cuts a swath through rural Minnesota, it's a growing army of cops who join Virgil in trying to run them down. But even Virgil doesn't realize what's about to happen next.

30 review for Mad River

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kemper

    After all these John Sandford books I’m starting to wonder how there could possibly be anyone left alive in Minnesota. Three young people try to pull a burglary that turns into murder and starts them on a killing spree through a rural area. State cop Virgil Flowers is in hot pursuit, but it’s impossible to predict where they’ll go next and many an innocent person winds up dead as the kids rampage across the countryside. Sandford continues to add new layers to Virgil and differentiate him from the After all these John Sandford books I’m starting to wonder how there could possibly be anyone left alive in Minnesota. Three young people try to pull a burglary that turns into murder and starts them on a killing spree through a rural area. State cop Virgil Flowers is in hot pursuit, but it’s impossible to predict where they’ll go next and many an innocent person winds up dead as the kids rampage across the countryside. Sandford continues to add new layers to Virgil and differentiate him from the Lucas Davenport character so that this series is seeming less like a spin-off side project and more than capable of standing on its own. The ending really illustrates how far apart the two cops are. (view spoiler)[ Davenport’s reaction to Virgil’s outrage at the sheriff’s ambush of Jimmy and Becky is especially interesting when you consider some of the things Lucas has done in his career. (hide spoiler)] Virgil’s roaming around the area he grew up and interacting with people from his past reminded me a bit of the dynamic of Justified. Flowers isn’t a shooter like Raylan Givens, but he’s equally good at laying on the good ole boy charm and knowing precisely how to work a redneck to get the info he needs. It’s another fast and furious thriller from Sandford that ends up going in some surprising directions.

  2. 5 out of 5

    James Thane

    Jimmy Sharp is the de facto leader of two other loser kids from rural Minnesota, his girlfriend, Becky Welsh and a guy named Tom McCall who's hanging around with them because he's attracted to Becky and apparently because he has nothing better to do. While working as a waitress at a homecoming dance, Becky spies a diamond necklace worn by the wealthiest woman in a small neighboring town. Now, Jimmy leads his two confederates on a middle-of-the-night mission to break into the woman's house and fo Jimmy Sharp is the de facto leader of two other loser kids from rural Minnesota, his girlfriend, Becky Welsh and a guy named Tom McCall who's hanging around with them because he's attracted to Becky and apparently because he has nothing better to do. While working as a waitress at a homecoming dance, Becky spies a diamond necklace worn by the wealthiest woman in a small neighboring town. Now, Jimmy leads his two confederates on a middle-of-the-night mission to break into the woman's house and force her to give up the diamonds. But no sooner are the three in the house than all hell breaks loose and Jimmy shoots someone before there's a chance to grab the diamonds or anything else of value. The three flee from the scene only to discover that Jimmy's junker car won't start. But they spot a man walking toward a car in the parking lot where they've stashed the getaway car. Jimmy runs up behind the man, shoots him, and steals his car, and just that quickly their crime spree has begun. Virgil Flowers, the laid-back, long-haired, rock and roll-loving agent of the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is assigned to the case. (When asked why Minnesota has a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as opposed to a Bureau of Criminal Investigations like many other states, Virgil's creator, John Sandford, responds that while other states may investigate criminals, in Minnesota, they apprehend them.) In his efforts to track the three killers and end their spree, Virgil almost immediately locks horns with the local sheriff and his deputies who seem hell-bent on executing the three kids on the spot, rather than bringing them in. Virgil is the son of a Presbyterian minister and has a moral code somewhat stronger than that of the sheriff. He also takes his job as a lawman seriously, and so he's determined to capture the suspects and see that they get a proper trial. It turns out that here's a lot of places to hide out in rural Minnesota, and the three fugitives also catch their fair share of lucky breaks, which means that their killing spree is going to go on for a while, frustrating Virgil and everyone else involved. From the selfish standpoint of the reader, though, it's great to watch the story unfold and as always, it's enormous fun to watch Virgil in action. Even in the midst of a story this grim, Sandford works in a lot of wry humor that does not seem out of place or inappropriate. As always, it's fun listening in to the conversations between Virgil and his boss, the legendary Lucas Davenport. We even get to meet Virgil's parents in this book and they seem like very nice people. All in all, it's a great ride and fans of this series will eagerly devour the book. It's sure to make new fans for Virgil as well.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Zora

    The Virgil Flowers books are lucidly written police procedurals with humor, attention to details of setting in rural Minnesota, and good quirky characters. They aren't "mysteries" in the sense that there is anything for us to figure out; the good guys' and bad guys' stories are both followed and there's not much for the reader to puzzle out. Crimes are solved through interviews and require legwork and streetsmarts rather than science and tech. The appeal to the reader is not "whodunit" but watch The Virgil Flowers books are lucidly written police procedurals with humor, attention to details of setting in rural Minnesota, and good quirky characters. They aren't "mysteries" in the sense that there is anything for us to figure out; the good guys' and bad guys' stories are both followed and there's not much for the reader to puzzle out. Crimes are solved through interviews and require legwork and streetsmarts rather than science and tech. The appeal to the reader is not "whodunit" but watching the protagonist close in on the criminals. Virgil is a wonderful fictional invention, beginning with that amusing name. Virgil's first love is not detection but the outdoors, and his second job is writing articles for the slick hunting mags (and, increasingly, other national magazines). He is the son of a Lutheran minister who has stayed a deist on his own terms, despite the horrors he sees in his role as a cop, reflecting his basic kindness and optimism. He gets laid a lot and was married and divorced three times by his early thirties. In this book we see him once again use a very strange group detection system, akin to the mail-survey on guilt he used in Shock Wave. As fans of the effin' Flowers know, he hates carrying a gun, and when something bad happens here, Lucas complains to him about that, and Flowers offers up an honest explanation why it wouldn't have helped him. The climax of this novel comes a couple chapters before the ending. In Sandford's novels, sometimes justice doesn't prevail as the protagonist might wish, but the reader will be satisfied. The writing, as always, is clean and crisp and invisible, in that best way, where words disappear and only story remains. Sandford is a reader-oriented writer, a man who knows how to manipulate us, entertain us, and keep us turning pages. I've always loved Sandford's female characters; for a man of his generation, he surprises with his skill of making them strong, sexual (NOT sexy, mere objects of some man's sexuality, but sexual, powerful subjects of their own). One day I'm going for force myself not to read one of his novels in a single day, but I failed with this one; with prose this slick, it's impossible to put it down.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cary Griffith

    Ok, there should be categories of rating. Since four stars equates with "I really liked it" I guess that'll suffice. But rating a Sandford novel four stars, as opposed to, say, Fahrenheit 451, is like giving pumpkin pie the same rating as turkey with greens (or in my case, tofurkey with spinach). Sandford is pure joy, but he's dessert, he's what you reward yourself with after you've done something prudent, level headed and good for you. If you like the thriller genre I highly recommend you drop y Ok, there should be categories of rating. Since four stars equates with "I really liked it" I guess that'll suffice. But rating a Sandford novel four stars, as opposed to, say, Fahrenheit 451, is like giving pumpkin pie the same rating as turkey with greens (or in my case, tofurkey with spinach). Sandford is pure joy, but he's dessert, he's what you reward yourself with after you've done something prudent, level headed and good for you. If you like the thriller genre I highly recommend you drop your current thriller and pickup Mad River. You'll love Virgil Flowers (this is the fifth Flowers novel), and you'll absolutely be blown away by how smart, funny, technically staggering and cinematic this novel reads. This guy - Sandford - is still at the top of his game. I'd like to think it's because he grew up in my hometown, Cedar Rapids. If I was a betting man I'd guess he went to Regis (the catholic high school), or Jefferson (that other side of town). I like to think it's his CR roots because then I have a chance. We drank the same water, almost at the same time (maybe a decade apart). Alas, I've tried to write like Sandford and come up startlingly, stunningly and lamentably short. This guy's a genius on the salient character trait. He wastes no words. And when you start one of his novels (true for the Prey series, also), you're picked up by the nape of your neck and spun along like a whirling dervish, given plenty of laughs along the way, and shocked by some of the scenes you encounter. All I can say is, I'm awaiting the next one in the series, after he comes out with his next Prey novel. They're usually about six months apart and I always love the fall and spring - I just wish I was better at pacing myself.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jo Massino

    I do love "that f***in' Flowers"! I do love "that f***in' Flowers"!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Albert Riehle

    John Sandford is so consistent it's just not fair to the other writers in his genre. You'd think by now he'd have phoned one in or written a clunker, but he hasn't. He's the good book factory. It's as simple as that. The only reason Virgil Flowers isn't my favorite thriller/mystery/cop character is that Lucas Davenport beat him to the top spot and hasn't done anything to relinquish it. It would have been easy for Sandford to make Flowers a young version of Davenport, hell, I doubt any of his read John Sandford is so consistent it's just not fair to the other writers in his genre. You'd think by now he'd have phoned one in or written a clunker, but he hasn't. He's the good book factory. It's as simple as that. The only reason Virgil Flowers isn't my favorite thriller/mystery/cop character is that Lucas Davenport beat him to the top spot and hasn't done anything to relinquish it. It would have been easy for Sandford to make Flowers a young version of Davenport, hell, I doubt any of his readers would have even minded if he had, but once again in Mad River, Sandford continues to evolve the Virgil Flowers character in a similar, yet divergent path from Davenport and it just makes these "Fucking Flowers" books that much more enjoyable. And you know this little fling with Flowers is serious now, we get to meet his parents. The action is solid, the pace--like with all of Sandford's books--is superb and the continued development of Flowers as a character is excellent and is illustrated perfectly toward the end of the book when Flowers does some very un-Davenport-like things, against the advice of Davenport himself. And as long as I'm on the subject, I love the interaction between the two. Davenport is only a minor character in this series, but he's an important one, drawing the many contrasts between himself and Flowers. And I particularly like the way, as different as they are and think, that they get along so well and have each other's backs. There are some really subtle things in these interactions that I really enjoyed, it makes it easy to be a fan of both series. I also find myself looking forward to the inevitable appearance of thug-life version of R2-D2 & C-3PO that are Jenkins & Shrake. Always good for some dry humor and another way to contrast Flowers unique style, the two characters are a welcome recurring part of these books. My only complaint is that I can't spend more than a day or two reading Sandford's books. I devour them. When I'm reading one, everything else on my to-do list gets reassigned and procrastinated. If you're a fan of this series, this book will not disappoint. If you've never read one, it's time to jump in, and while this book is a perfectly acceptable place to jump in--the series is new enough that you should definitely go back and start from the beginning. You can't go wrong reading them all.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I liked this portrayal of desperate frustration among the police trying to catch a young couple on a killing spree. This police procedural is the 6th in a series featuring Detective Virgil Flowers of Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He is easy to like for his down home charm and humor and for his pragmatic and persistent determination to find justice. I don’t rate it highly because I just wasn’t moved much emotionally by the tale, nor did I come away with much in the way of insight i I liked this portrayal of desperate frustration among the police trying to catch a young couple on a killing spree. This police procedural is the 6th in a series featuring Detective Virgil Flowers of Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He is easy to like for his down home charm and humor and for his pragmatic and persistent determination to find justice. I don’t rate it highly because I just wasn’t moved much emotionally by the tale, nor did I come away with much in the way of insight into human nature. It all starts with Jimmie and Becky, a pair of aimless youth down on their luck, along with a friend Tom along for the ride, seeking to rob a household of jewelry. A killing by Jimmie during execution of the crime puts them on the run, and attempts to garner cars and hideouts leads to more killings. As the body count rises, the massive manhunt by Virgil and local sheriff departments always seems to be one step behind. The rural Minnesota landscape is just too vast. As in the films “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Natural Born Killers” (which are explicitly referred to), Jimmie and Becky start getting used to killing as a matter of course. As hopeless as their situation is, they somehow imagine a romantic future where they can live the American Dream, kids and all. Virgil tries to make sense of it all: What part could they have in God’s plan? Were they simply put here to kill people at random, because, for some people, people needed to be killed at random? A mystery. He remembered a bumper sticker he’d seen in St. Paul that said: “Remember: Half the People Are Below Average.” That, he thought, was probably the key to Jimmie Sharp and Becky Welsh. They were below average, and God had made them that way. There was no way that they were ever going to be anything but that; they could watch all the above-average people they wanted, on television, driving around in big cars and making enormous amounts of money out of nothing … or just working at the post office, or going to trade school to be plumbers or carpenters. They’d never be able to do that. They were condemned from birth to a life of hard times and trouble. This is it for “depth” of insight. As in the Springstein’s song about the spree killer Starkweather, we are left with a message “They wanted to know why I did what I did. Well sir, I guess there's just a meanness in this world.” Fortunately, Sanford brings in a secondary plot of another person involved in the first murder, someone who put Jimmie onto the household picked ostensibly for robbery. Through much of the book, Flowers is frustrated in his efforts to resolve his case on that, despite tantalizing progress in his mounting pieces of evidence against the likely culprit.

  8. 5 out of 5

    11811 (Eleven)

    Dude keeps getting better with every book. His latest ten books are easily better than the first ten. I also recommend the Virgil Flowers series over the Prey novels but I like them all. I've done a few of these on audio lately and I think Sandford uses the same narrator for all his books. The reader is excellent and consistent. I may stick to these in audio now since quality narrators are a somewhat rare commodity. I don't think I'll ever tire of Sandford's writing in any medium. Dude keeps getting better with every book. His latest ten books are easily better than the first ten. I also recommend the Virgil Flowers series over the Prey novels but I like them all. I've done a few of these on audio lately and I think Sandford uses the same narrator for all his books. The reader is excellent and consistent. I may stick to these in audio now since quality narrators are a somewhat rare commodity. I don't think I'll ever tire of Sandford's writing in any medium.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Seeley James

    There are only three authors whose books I will preorder, no matter what they write.* John Sandford, Lee Child, and Zoë Sharp. All three for the same reasons: I learn a great deal about writing from them; they each have a unique talent; they never disappoint; and, despite being deep into their respective franchise formulas, every book they write is fresh. John Sandford’s unique talent lies in constructing the villains. His bad guys are perfect descriptions of the lowlifes who turn to crime to sol There are only three authors whose books I will preorder, no matter what they write.* John Sandford, Lee Child, and Zoë Sharp. All three for the same reasons: I learn a great deal about writing from them; they each have a unique talent; they never disappoint; and, despite being deep into their respective franchise formulas, every book they write is fresh. John Sandford’s unique talent lies in constructing the villains. His bad guys are perfect descriptions of the lowlifes who turn to crime to solve their problems. No evil overlords with bazillions in cash and secret armies marching around in his books. His criminals are the kind you read about in the true crimes section of your local paper. Poorly educated, abused in some way or another, and nearly-sympathetic morons who, for one reason or another make a stupid decision to start killing people. What separates Sandford from any other writer today is the ‘reason’ they start killing people. Plausibility is a key ingredient for any writer: Would a group of killers on the Orient Express really commit gross overkill when they could have just pushed the victim out the door? If a stranger on a train proposed to commit your murder for you provided you commit his murder for him, wouldn’t you go straight to the cops? We generally set these cynical questions aside to enjoy the story. Not necessary with John Sanford’s writing. His gritty, realistic killers start out as simple minds executing what should be a simple plan. Then things spiral out of control. Because they’re not the brightest bulbs in the pack, you understand why they make the second and third bad decisions. Then you find yourself feeling sorry for them. Sorry for the mistakes they’re making. Sorry for their stupidity. Your rational mind is torn between jailing them and just killing them. This time around, Mr. Sandford tops himself. Not only does he create the excellent criminals we love to hate, but he also makes a good guy who shakes our faith in the criminal justice system and makes us examine our personal concepts of right and wrong. There is a scene in this book that blew me away. I saw it coming but refused to believe that a good guy could do something so heinous. Yet he did. And he did it so well he might get away with it. Whether he should or not could keep you thinking for a long time. (Personally, I have no reservations. I know exactly what should happen to this good-bad guy, but this is a book review, not a political statement. You can thank me later.) In the climax, Mr. Sandford creates another situation in which we must examine right versus wrong and justice versus vigilantism. In doing so, he leaves certain issues unresolved. Some people like iron resolutions. This is not one of them. This story is closer to reality than any other thriller I’ve read. And reality is never pretty. This book is more than a mystery/thriller; it’s a philosophical treatise of the best kind. You will think about it long after you close the book. Somewhere in the vastness of the Internet, I found something written by Mr. Sandford about his background in journalism. I searched like the crazy to find it again for this review, but you know how fast that river flows … gone. Anyway. He said he was surrounded by great writers wherever he worked in the newspaper business. No doubt this aided him, but he surpasses everything I’ve read in the papers he mentioned. He does it with ease and an honest mid-western voice. He does it with confidence and beautifully written passages. Whatever background he had produced one of the strongest voices in fiction today. You can hear the Midwestern accents in his characters, you can feel the dusty farm roads, you can smell the tilled earth. It is a brave author who can write stories filled with real people who use real four letter words and think real thoughts about sex and religion. In these godless days, many authors leave religion, and its accompanying quagmire, out entirely. Easier that way. Not Mr. Sandford. Below is a passage from his character Virgil Flowers, who is the son of a Midwestern pastor: …he thought about God, and whether He might be some kind of universal digital computer, subject to the occasional bug or hack. Was it possible that politicians and hedge-fund operators were some kind of garbled cosmic computer code? …That prayers weren’t answered because Satan was running denial-of-service attacks? See? A guy who can think up shit like that—well, you just sign up to preorder anything he’s putting on a shelf. Bottom line: Mad River is a must-read for intelligent readers. You might like it too. It also makes a good holiday gift for that know-it-all friend of yours who always spouts left or right wing dogma. Shut him up for a week. Peace, Seeley For more reviews, visit my website SeeleyJames.com * Unless they start writing poetry. So far, so good. Special NOTE: MY REVIEWS ARE MY REACTIONS TO THE BOOKS I READ. I have no relationship, financial or familial, with the authors. I do not expect, but would not refuse, any reciprocal reviews or recommendations. Just sayin.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jack Heath

    4 Stars. There's so much desperation in "Mad River." By so many hoping for a satisfactory resolution to their own ugly circumstances. The situations are often mutually exclusive. It reminded me of high school English or perhaps mathematics. "If A's desperate efforts to succeed are rewarded, then B and C will have failed. But the success of D would mean the same for C. Please explain." Are you lost? Then read this page-turner. Here are a few teasers. We are quickly introduced to three young peopl 4 Stars. There's so much desperation in "Mad River." By so many hoping for a satisfactory resolution to their own ugly circumstances. The situations are often mutually exclusive. It reminded me of high school English or perhaps mathematics. "If A's desperate efforts to succeed are rewarded, then B and C will have failed. But the success of D would mean the same for C. Please explain." Are you lost? Then read this page-turner. Here are a few teasers. We are quickly introduced to three young people with little, if any, prospects in the small town of Bigham, Minnesota. Jimmy Sharp, Tom McCall, and Becky Welsh. To them, Los Angeles and Hollywood would be the dream escape from rural nowhere-land. But they need money. In an effort to steal an expensive necklace, a young woman is shot. A killing spree ensues. The three become increasingly desperate to escape police encirclement. With the shooting of a local officer, that branch of law enforcement feel the same way about capturing the three, dead or alive. Stress on dead. Virgil Flowers of the state police is doing his desperate best to prevent it from happening. Get set for many more examples of desperation. (January 2021)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Smith

    I was wrong. My initial impression, from the first Flowers book, was that any story featuring Davenport's sidekick from the Prey series as the lead character would be be no more than a snack leaving readers hungry for another helping of the main course - the next Lucas Davenport tale. I've since read a couple more Flowers books (well what else can you do when you've already ticked off off the available adventures in the Prey series) and I have to say I've become a Virgil Flowers convert. I was g I was wrong. My initial impression, from the first Flowers book, was that any story featuring Davenport's sidekick from the Prey series as the lead character would be be no more than a snack leaving readers hungry for another helping of the main course - the next Lucas Davenport tale. I've since read a couple more Flowers books (well what else can you do when you've already ticked off off the available adventures in the Prey series) and I have to say I've become a Virgil Flowers convert. I was gripped by this tale of a redneck chase across Southern Minnesota. The difference between Virgil and Lucas does come across strongly courtesy of the conversations the reader observes between the two. Ok, they're both good looking law enforcement officers with an eye for the ladies but increasingly it's their differences I was drawn to not their similarities. I like the exploration of the religious tensions here as Virgil's upbringing as a preacher's son is offset against the violent, bad guy world he inhabits. In fact, tension is probably the wrong word as Virgil certainly doesn't seems uncomfortable with where he sits on religion; if it's not quite a belief then it's certainly not a denial and it does seem to give some direction to the actions our hero takes. He's a passionate about enforcing the law but ultimately he is able to take a view and follow a path that is, shall we say, more flexible.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    There's a lot of testosterone in Sandford's novels, lawmen in the cities and wilds of Minnesota fighting against all manner of depraved law breakers. But there are also plots woven with some interesting details of detection, some character development that is a bit unexpected, especially with Virgil Flowers. The stories can be bloody--as Mad River was definitely--but, if you enjoy a TV show like Criminal Minds, Sandford might be for you. Once again I liked this latest installment in the series (t There's a lot of testosterone in Sandford's novels, lawmen in the cities and wilds of Minnesota fighting against all manner of depraved law breakers. But there are also plots woven with some interesting details of detection, some character development that is a bit unexpected, especially with Virgil Flowers. The stories can be bloody--as Mad River was definitely--but, if you enjoy a TV show like Criminal Minds, Sandford might be for you. Once again I liked this latest installment in the series (the other is the Lucas Davenport series and they often appear in each other's books in cameos). It was a bit bloodier than usual but also had a bit more complex trail to follow. Recommended for the right reader.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marty Fried

    Another fun read with Virgil Flowers and the gang. It's a good story, with a bit of meat to chew on, and the usual fun dialog and jokes. The basic story is fairly straightforward, and we know the perpetrators all along - a trio of young, very dumb losers who begin killing people, presumably over jealousy about an expensive diamond necklace worn to a reunion. But if that were all there was, it would be pretty boring, so there's another possibility - perhaps someone paid the killer to do the deed Another fun read with Virgil Flowers and the gang. It's a good story, with a bit of meat to chew on, and the usual fun dialog and jokes. The basic story is fairly straightforward, and we know the perpetrators all along - a trio of young, very dumb losers who begin killing people, presumably over jealousy about an expensive diamond necklace worn to a reunion. But if that were all there was, it would be pretty boring, so there's another possibility - perhaps someone paid the killer to do the deed for some reason. So, they follow the money, figure out who probably did it, but there's one problem: he seems to be smarter than the killers, though not by a lot. But with witnesses either dying or disappearing, it becomes very possible that he may just get away with it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lynnski

    I won a copy of “Mad River” by John Sanford through GoodReads Frist Read program and I am SO glad that I did. I had never read any of Sanford’s books prior but I know I’ll be reading them going forward. I loved it! At times it kept me on the edge of my seat and other times it had me laughing out loud. And you can’t help but love the main character, Virgil Flowers. He is a fantastic cop with honor, compassion and a touch of sarcasm. OK, a lot of sarcasm…but that’s one of the things that I enjoy. I won a copy of “Mad River” by John Sanford through GoodReads Frist Read program and I am SO glad that I did. I had never read any of Sanford’s books prior but I know I’ll be reading them going forward. I loved it! At times it kept me on the edge of my seat and other times it had me laughing out loud. And you can’t help but love the main character, Virgil Flowers. He is a fantastic cop with honor, compassion and a touch of sarcasm. OK, a lot of sarcasm…but that’s one of the things that I enjoy. I will definitely be reading more of his adventures.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Another good Virgil Flowers read, his case ends him up close to his childhood home and he spends some time w/ mom & Minister dad, then the case heats up, and he has to find the young killers fast. Love this series from John Sandford!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarescent

    Another solid effort from John Sandford. Mad River's villains are a misfit Bonnie and Clyde pair on a killing spree through the Minnesota countryside. It starts with what seems like a pointless murder during a house robbery and soon, Jimmy and Becky (great names for this pair) are killing everyone in sight, looking for money, and day-dreaming about running off to Texas, Mexico, or Australia. Virgil Flowers (the greatest of great names) is chasing after them while dealing with a bloodthirsty loca Another solid effort from John Sandford. Mad River's villains are a misfit Bonnie and Clyde pair on a killing spree through the Minnesota countryside. It starts with what seems like a pointless murder during a house robbery and soon, Jimmy and Becky (great names for this pair) are killing everyone in sight, looking for money, and day-dreaming about running off to Texas, Mexico, or Australia. Virgil Flowers (the greatest of great names) is chasing after them while dealing with a bloodthirsty local sheriff and his growing suspicion that there was more to the first murder than meets the eye. This book was a non-stop thrill ride and I finished most of it in one night. I found it interesting that the reader knows who the killers are the whole time and we have to watch Virgil spinning his wheels, so to speak, trying to catch them. There is also a great depiction of how the media's relentless coverage of horrific crimes like these affect the cops trying to solve them, and how "Have Badge, Will Travel" cops like Virgil have to figure out a way to do what they think is right while not alienating local sheriffs and cops. As always, Virgil uses his schmoozing skills to work the case. There is a great scene of a prison focus group where Virgil is trying to narrow down where Jimmy and Becky could be hiding out. I also thought the characterization of Jimmy, Becky, and their loser third-wheel friend were excellently done. You see how the three of them were doomed early on, just fucked-up arrested development teenagers who have no life skills or realistic dreams. Sandford has created an amazing character in Virgil, and I am eagerly waiting for his next adventure.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Eric_W

    Another enjoyable audio listen, this time read by Eric Conger. This book is part of the Virgil Flowers series by Sandford. Flowers is a BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension - weird name for a state police agency if there ever was one) agent working under Lucas Davenport who makes several cameo appearances. This is not an investigatory police procedural. The story alternatives between Flowers and the killers' narratives. There's never any doubt who's guilty, the only mystery being their ultimate Another enjoyable audio listen, this time read by Eric Conger. This book is part of the Virgil Flowers series by Sandford. Flowers is a BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension - weird name for a state police agency if there ever was one) agent working under Lucas Davenport who makes several cameo appearances. This is not an investigatory police procedural. The story alternatives between Flowers and the killers' narratives. There's never any doubt who's guilty, the only mystery being their ultimate motivation for the first killing. Mostly it's the chase of three dysfunctional kids who go on a rampage following a simplistic contract killing. They are totally sociopathic and embark on an unintentional (soon becoming otherwise) killing spree. As the killing intensifies and the killers remain at large, the tension escalates into a conflict between Virgil and the local cops as to how best to deal with the miscreants. That provided one of the subtexts that I found interesting: the desire of the community for immediate vengeance, and Flowers's obsession with discovering whether Jimmy had been hired to kill Agatha. I think I prefer the Flower series to the Davenport. Flowers just seems to be a more interesting and introspective than Lucas who often strikes me as superficial.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Davie

    Sixth in the Virgil Flowers detective mystery thriller series (and loosely affiliated with the Lucas Davenport series). This revolves around Virgil, a laidback detective who enjoys the hunt, writes outdoors articles, and loves indie bands. It takes place in Minnesota in early April. My Take It starts bad and only gets much, much worse. The things people will do for money *shakes head*. I may not enjoy the same types of music that Virgil does, but I do like how Sandford personalizes Virgil. His pass Sixth in the Virgil Flowers detective mystery thriller series (and loosely affiliated with the Lucas Davenport series). This revolves around Virgil, a laidback detective who enjoys the hunt, writes outdoors articles, and loves indie bands. It takes place in Minnesota in early April. My Take It starts bad and only gets much, much worse. The things people will do for money *shakes head*. I may not enjoy the same types of music that Virgil does, but I do like how Sandford personalizes Virgil. His passion for music, his enjoyment of ticking off fellow cops and unsettling witnesses with those T-shirts, his writing — although I do miss how Sandford used to have him writing up scenarios about his crime scenes, his wondering if "politicans and hedge-fund operators were garbled cosmic computer code" while God was writing viruses after drinking Big Gulps and Satan was running denial-of-service attacks, and he must be hell with the ladies… "'Listen, I gotta tell you. I got four flat tires and no way to get them patched here in Bigham.' 'Sounds like an emergency,' she said. 'Have I told you about our emergency roadside service?'" That Budweiser comment got me laughing. Oh the joys of small town living, lol. Geez, that Sheriff Duke…hoo, boy. Sounds like a real pisser what with that concentration camp he wanted to set up. I did appreciate what Virgil had to say about what court orders couldn't do, lol. Just think, what if it could do that!! I hafta agree with Virgil. I don't like the Bare County sheriff's department either. There have been a number of good cops in this series, and the Lucas Davenport series, and then there are the idiots who don't think past their noses. Still, Virgil should have told Duke his concerns about the real reason for Ag Murphy's death. I am curious as well as to why Virgil got called in to the deaths in Shinder. I can't imagine it was all that much different from most murders…? And I'm torn between not having to deal with the stupid schmucks and wondering about the other stupid schmucks. It was cold-blooded murder. On both sides. Shrake is the one with whom I agree. Any excuse would be fine, but not what Duke and his men did. Then there are the politics afterwards… I hate politics. That they affect so many decisions about our lives. "'And where are you in all this?' Virgil asked. 'I'm behind you,' Davenport said. 'Like, way behind you.'" Virgil has some good advice for Barbara with no artistic talent. It's kind of vague, but he makes a good point about some aspect of a subject will grab your attention. Sally's experience with her dad's business runs along this same line of attraction. We finally get some real interaction with Virgil's parents. His father cracked me up with that contrast between his obsession with Genesis and Ishmael at the start and then his willingness to take a gun and go in with Virgil. Then we swing around to that doubt Virgil has about his mother and Darrin Wanger. Certainly does provide a, hmmm, "rounded" perspective on the Flowers family. I love how tight the O'Learys are. How concerned they are for each other. How they take each others' temperaments and abilities into account, even how Virgil takes into account the good the O'Learys provide society. For contrast, there is the stupid threesome. How they lasted long enough to become adults, or should I ask why they lasted this long? Reading of their reactions to the people they kill. The betrayal and stupid stories they come up with. I want a bomb that kills stupid and/or mean people. Of course, then the stories wouldn't seem so possible, would they? I like it. Virgil is using a survey along the lines of what George Peck from Shock Wave , 5, suggested but with the Stillwater inmates. Pretty impressive results. It truly amazes me how Sandford keeps coming up with one story after another that is so good!! The Story Bonnie and Clyde, they thought. And what's-his-name, the sidekick. Three teenagers with dead-end lives, chips on their shoulders, and guns. The first person they killed was a woman during a robbery. The second was incidental. Simply in the way. Then, hell, why not keep on going? It's not until Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers steps onto the Shinder murder scene that the clues begin to come together. As their crime spree cuts a swath through rural Minnesota, it's a growing army of cops who join Virgil in trying to run them down. But even Virgil doesn't realize what's about to happen next. The Characters The laid back Agent Virgil Flowers roams a section of Minnesota and is pulled in for the really hard cases. He does, however, have a new-to-him boat, a Ranger Angler. It's cool. Even the director of the BCA said it was okay. Lucas Davenport is Virgil's boss down at the BCA. Johnson Johnson is an old friend of Virgil's. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is… …the state police of which Davenport's division is only a part. Beatrice Sawyer is a crime scene tech along with Don Baldwin. Jenkins and Shrake are a couple of agents whom Davenport sends along when thugs are needed. I do like these two, *more laughter*. Cletus Boykin is a highway patrolman and a friend of Shrake's. Henry Sands is the BCA director. Rose Marie Roux is the overall boss. Ruffe Ignace is a reporter with the Star Tribune in Minneapolis who has helped the police in the past. Sandy Hunstad and Brett Thomas are special prosecutors. Bare County is run by… …Sheriff Lewis Duke, a.k.a., the Duke of Hazard 'cause he believes in "Guns, Punishment, Low Taxes, and the American Constitution". Deputies include Darrell, John Largas, Dan Card, and Jim Clark. Bob Drake is their crime-scene guy. Dave Jennings is the duty officer that day. Ross Price is investigating the Bigham murders. Mickey Burden is a public defender. Josh Meadows is the county attorney. Shinder, Minnesota George and Ann Welsh were trash and Becky's parents. Margery Garfield was their neighbor. Carly Redecke works at the Surprise market which Butch owns and is a friend of Becky's as is Caroline O'Meara. Mickey Berenson keeps track of everybody. James Sharp, Sr., was Jimmy's abusive father. Jolene O'Hara was Jimmy's mother who took off. Don Larson works at Gerald Ford Elementary School. Ralph was one of the teachers. Harvey, Earl, and Sue are some of the townspeople. Bernice Sawyer and Harriet Washburn were friends of Marsha O'Leary's from high school. Bigham, Minnesota Marsha Hogan O'Leary had gone to her high school reunion and shown off. Bad move. John O'Leary, a doctor, is her husband. Mary and Agatha O'Leary Murphy are their daughters and Jack, James, Robin, and Franklin are their sons; the three older boys are all pre-med. Mary Hogan is Marsha's mother. Laura Deren, a bookkeeper who wants to be a CPA, was Ag's best friend. Emmett Williams was in the wrong place at the wrong time. His sister is LuAnne Rogers married to Bradley Senior who's a plant engineer. Virginia McCall is Tom's mother and doesn't deny a thing. Robert Frett is the assistant principal in charge of discipline. George is a young teller. Bud Wright is an editor at the Bigham Gazette willing to put in Virgil's request. Marshall, Minneosta is… …in Lyon County and the town where Virgil grew up. Rev. Flowers, Virgil's father, is with the Lutheran church. Lots of priests and pastors know him and/or are friends with him. Darrin and Marcia Wanger (he's president of a local bank in Marshall) are friends of the Flowerses. Don McClatchy and his wife own a McDonald's in town as do Rick and Nina Box. Father Paul Berry is a Catholic priest at St. Mary's and one of Rev. Flowers' golfing buddies. Mr. Carew lives next door to the Boxes; his wife, Viv, wants to know about the Buds. Sally Long was the girl who got away, partly because of Carol Altenbrunner and Linda Smith. Barbara is a student who rents a garage loft from Sally. Dick Murphy is Agatha's estranged husband. Stan Murphy is his jerk of a father who always swings towards the money. Randy White is a friend of Dick Murphy's, and he works for the county road department. Stan is Randy's supervisor. I can't help but like his reactions, lol. Donny Morton shoots pool with Dick. Marjorie Kay talked to Becky at the pool parlor. George Petersen is an over-the-road trucker. Royce Atkins is a roofer and Duane McGuire are a couple more friends of Dick's. Martha Atkins is Royce's mother. Honor Roberts, a fence, is one of the people in Lucas' database. Roseanne Bush is another; she owns The Bush, a tattoo parlor, and I think Roseanne's Billiards although it may be part of The Bush. Clarence and Edie Towne lived in a farmhouse. Dale Jones works a gas station by the Mad River. Arnie Schmidt and his wife foster four kids who are all mentally challenged. David S. Gates lives alone on his farm. Jimmy Sharp is the leader of this stupid pack. And I do mean stupid, lordy. Becky Welsh was pretty enough to think she should go to Hollywood, but what she learns in the old guy's house…yep, she's gotta be stupid not to have figured this out. The useless Tom McCall was in high school with them and has been hot for Becky since 9th grade. Mankato, Minnesota, is… …where Virgil lives. Cornelius Cooper owns the Rooster Coop in Mankato. Bob "Bob-Bob" Roberts is a cop there. I think Georgina is the police dispatcher. Ronald Deutch is Tom's landlord in St. Paul. At Stillwater Prison, Ron Polgar is the assistant warden and James Benson is the warden. Daisy Jones is an on-camera reporter. Doctors Rogers and Wu treat Virgil. Mary Lawson and that Momentus golf club of hers went to town on Rolf. The Cover and Title The cover is in the style of a classic painting with a less than classic landscape: a broad sweep of hilly land, a dirt road with a lone telephone pole in the middle, a red pickup speeding down that road, raising dust behind it, all under a looming, stormy sky and a closeup of a broken link fence. The painting at the bottom of the cover takes up less than half with a brief notation of the series information. Above is a deep burgundy background with the author's name in an embossed gold and white. The title is the ultimate meet-up at the Mad River bridge.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This was just sad overall, but appropriately funny & interesting at points along the way. Flowers is quite the character. I love how he & Lucas tweak each other regularly. The argument about the greatest living country singer wasn't nearly as engaging for me as Lucas' top 100 songs of the rock & roll era since I'm not much of a fan of the genre, but the way Flowers investigates is great. His idea this time was a real hoot, but makes sense. The frustration & reaction of the police was horrifyingly This was just sad overall, but appropriately funny & interesting at points along the way. Flowers is quite the character. I love how he & Lucas tweak each other regularly. The argument about the greatest living country singer wasn't nearly as engaging for me as Lucas' top 100 songs of the rock & roll era since I'm not much of a fan of the genre, but the way Flowers investigates is great. His idea this time was a real hoot, but makes sense. The frustration & reaction of the police was horrifyingly well done & very believable. I'm not so sure I buy the ultimate disposition of one criminal, but thought it was well done even so. I can see a crack developing there over time & that would make me very sad. Another great read. On to the next Prey book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tom S

    I went back to back with Virgil Flowers this week. Mad river is another great read from Sandford. Virgil is on the hunt for a couple of teenagers on a Bonnie and Clyde type crime spree in rural Minnesota.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dotti Elrick

    The more I read about Virgil the more I love him. In Mad River we meet his parents. Virgil is a lot like his dad. It was a nice glimpse of normal family life. We meet our three bad guys (or two guys and a girl) on the first page. On the way to rob a family. The robbery goes bad, and they end up killing a woman. As they are making their escape, they kill a man for his car. Jimmy, Becky and Tom are three kids from small town America. Who grew up poor with no hope of improving their lives. They trie The more I read about Virgil the more I love him. In Mad River we meet his parents. Virgil is a lot like his dad. It was a nice glimpse of normal family life. We meet our three bad guys (or two guys and a girl) on the first page. On the way to rob a family. The robbery goes bad, and they end up killing a woman. As they are making their escape, they kill a man for his car. Jimmy, Becky and Tom are three kids from small town America. Who grew up poor with no hope of improving their lives. They tried making a go of it in the cities, but couldn't hold down jobs. Now they are broke, hungry, homeless and carrying a big chip on their shoulders. When an opportunity arises to rob the house of a wealthy family, they take it. And everything goes downhill from there. Jimmy gets a thrill from the killings. They head back to their home town and take out their parents and others that they feel have more than they deserve. When they kill a cop during the robbery of a credit union, and Jimmy is badly injured, they dig in and try to wait out the cops. Virgil is also dealing with a sheriff he really does not like and the politics that go along with small town elected officials. And looking into rumors that the first murder was a paid hit. I liked this newest Virgil novel. It was fast paced, and well written. A very tense ending. I was a little disappointed with the ending. All the questions are answered, and everyone ultimately gets what they deserved, and I understand why it was done the way it was. I guess I just wanted more. But don't get me wrong, I loved the book, and highly recommend it!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Monnie

    If I don't count Harry Potter - who's in a league all by himself - my favorite fictional character has to be Virgil Flowers, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent in Minnesota. He's got it all: Good looks, quick wit and an uncanny ability to solve complex murder cases. In Mad River, the most recent addition to author John Sanford's series, I was reminded of the reasons I love Flowers (and the books) by the time I hit the second chapter. The streets to the south of Main Street in the small town to If I don't count Harry Potter - who's in a league all by himself - my favorite fictional character has to be Virgil Flowers, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent in Minnesota. He's got it all: Good looks, quick wit and an uncanny ability to solve complex murder cases. In Mad River, the most recent addition to author John Sanford's series, I was reminded of the reasons I love Flowers (and the books) by the time I hit the second chapter. The streets to the south of Main Street in the small town to which Flowers is headed, it seems, are named after fruits, in alphabetical order. To the north, they've got tree names - also alphabetically. Thus, a parent, or law enforcement, could pinpoint a location if told to go to the corner of, say, Pear and April. "What would happen if the town built more than 12 north-south streets, Virgil couldn't guess," Sanford writes. "In any case, it all seemed a little anal, even for Minnesota." This case deals with a local teen-age version of Bonnie and Clyde team plus one who go on what seems to be an unending spree of robbery and murder. Set in Minnesota's backwoods and small towns, they manage to avoid capture and lead law enforcement officials on a trail strewn with dead bodies. Does everything turn out well in the end? Well, yes and no; as well as being a thrill-packed adventure, this story is a study in circumstance-forced choices that make readers at least consider the fact that life doesn't always happen in black-and-white. Definitely one of Sanford's best!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rex Fuller

    A woman is murdered in the course of a robbery. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Neither was shooting the guy who showed up on the scene by accident. But that’s the problem with Becky and Jimmy. They could never get anything quite right. After still more killing, Virgil knows he’s competing to beat half of Minnesota law enforcement to the kids or there’ll be a Bonnie and Clyde ending. This one is marred by Sandford’s inability to keep his left-liberal-Democrat snarks out of the pages. If you can ig A woman is murdered in the course of a robbery. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Neither was shooting the guy who showed up on the scene by accident. But that’s the problem with Becky and Jimmy. They could never get anything quite right. After still more killing, Virgil knows he’s competing to beat half of Minnesota law enforcement to the kids or there’ll be a Bonnie and Clyde ending. This one is marred by Sandford’s inability to keep his left-liberal-Democrat snarks out of the pages. If you can ignore that – the best writers don’t advertise their politics in their stories – this is worth a read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    This novel was one tell of a ride. In this installment Virgil and the crew are on the hunt for two teenage killers and the action barely stopped. In this instalment we get more of an insight into Virgil and his past we even get to meet his parents. The conversation between Davenport and Flowers especially towards the end of the novel are some of the bet I've read. The highlight the fact that Sandford has managed to create two distinct and well rounded characters. This novel was one tell of a ride. In this installment Virgil and the crew are on the hunt for two teenage killers and the action barely stopped. In this instalment we get more of an insight into Virgil and his past we even get to meet his parents. The conversation between Davenport and Flowers especially towards the end of the novel are some of the bet I've read. The highlight the fact that Sandford has managed to create two distinct and well rounded characters.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pete

    Another great Flowers book. This is my favorite of the series. The ending was both a let down and very satisfying. It's the same way with a deep fried Twinkie. So close to being a 5 star entry for me. The old farmer with the gay porn obsession almost pushed me over the top into 5 stardom. I didn't give in for fear he'd make me go down on him afterward. Another great Flowers book. This is my favorite of the series. The ending was both a let down and very satisfying. It's the same way with a deep fried Twinkie. So close to being a 5 star entry for me. The old farmer with the gay porn obsession almost pushed me over the top into 5 stardom. I didn't give in for fear he'd make me go down on him afterward.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Doris Luther

    Virgil Flowers has his own series now and they are great. I like him better than Davenport, but I still like him too. There are some nasty spree killers out there and Virgil is bound to get them. I should know tonight.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    This is the first Virgil Flowers book I've read (I don't have a thing about reading a series in order) and I now plan to read more in the series. This was a real page turner. I couldn't wait to see how it was going to end. I think they should turn this series into a TV show. I know I'd watch it! This is the first Virgil Flowers book I've read (I don't have a thing about reading a series in order) and I now plan to read more in the series. This was a real page turner. I couldn't wait to see how it was going to end. I think they should turn this series into a TV show. I know I'd watch it!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lea

    Loved it ! The worst part of reading the NEWEST Virgil Flowers story is that now I have to WAIT for the next one. PLEASE HURRY!!

  29. 5 out of 5

    William

    My least favourite of the first 6 books. Short reviews of wonderful Virgil, sorry.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Peggy

    Virgil Flowers is an investigator for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He works for Lucas Davenport, the protagonist in the prolific “Prey” series by the same author. Virgil works crimes in the rural areas outside the Twin Cities. He is an unexpected cop - longish hair, rock band t-shirts, a little laid back, but smart and shrewd. In this book Virgil finds himself in a frenzied search for a modern day Bonnie and Clyde. Becky and Jimmy are on a killing spree. It started as a home bu Virgil Flowers is an investigator for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He works for Lucas Davenport, the protagonist in the prolific “Prey” series by the same author. Virgil works crimes in the rural areas outside the Twin Cities. He is an unexpected cop - longish hair, rock band t-shirts, a little laid back, but smart and shrewd. In this book Virgil finds himself in a frenzied search for a modern day Bonnie and Clyde. Becky and Jimmy are on a killing spree. It started as a home burglary, but when Jimmy shoots and kills a woman in the house, they flee. That is just the beginning. They travel the back roads in small towns in southwest Minnesota killing whoever they encounter to steal vehicles and find places to hide. A cop is killed during a bank robbery. With each murder the police, press, and public are ratcheted up to panicked proportions. Virgil knows they are hunting a needle in a haystack between the farms dotting the countryside. Virgil uses the locals to gather intel on the couple. He thinks outside the box to try to anticipate where they may go next. Virgil learns that the initial killing may not have been random after all. He needs to capture Becky and Jimmy alive to solve that mystery, but the local cops are frothing at the mouth for revenge. Fast paced and suspenseful, I enjoyed this book very much.

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