John Sanford’s latest thriller is a Virgil Flowers novel. Virgil Flowers works for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, employed as a detective working out of Mankato. We often find him towing his boat behind his pickup with Lindy rigs in the tackle box, ready to take on the wily walleye whenever one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes is between where he is and where he’s headed. Flowers works Southwest Minnesota for BCA so we know his turf pretty well.
This time, the crime is the theft of two Amur tigers from the Minnesota state zoo. The evil doers plan the heist with inside help and execute very well. The Amurs are rare and beloved creatures to many so there is much consternation around this theft and Flowers is put on the case full time. Through Flowers investigative efforts, we learn the bad guys intend to butcher animals for their “medicinal” value in the Asian marketplace and have a standing offer of $250,000 for the processed animals. Bit by bit, Flowers unwinds the puzzle and locates the bad guys who are more than a little wacked out having murdered three folks who get in their way.
Sanford nearly always has at least one female bad guy in his stories and Escape Clause is no exception. This particular lady stands up in her sunroof and shoots up the vehicle of one of Flowers suspects. Other side plots involve Virgil’s girlfriend getting beaten up and his neighbor being firebombed (they got the wrong house in the dark). A family of six Iranian brothers show up to avenge the death of a seventh brother and continue to pop up in their RV from time to time. So lots of action, much of it bizarre in classic Sanford fashion.
Does John Sanford’s Escape Clause survive my acid test for a good read? You bet. As always, Sandford’s work is a real page turner and it’s hard to beat a book title that is a pun.