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Posted: October 11, 2020

John Sandford uses an incredibly successful combination

Book Review

By Derryll White

Sandford, John (2018).  Holy Ghost.

This is John Sandford’s eleventh Virgil Flowers novel.  He has created a character that he has a lot of fun with – womanizer, writer, agent for the Minnesota Bureau of Investigation.

Virgil lives outside the rules with long hair, rock band t-shirts, cowboy boots and his gun always locked inside his truck. He talks, snoops, noses around and makes a lot of friends.  And he clears a lot of cases.  Virgil is the kind of cop one never meets, but wishes it was possible.

This novel has it all – ghostly apparitions of the Virgin Mary, murder and the resulting hysteria in a small town, a brilliant and non-conforming high school student.  Virgil Flowers is a little more subdued, now in a long-term relationship with a child on the way.  His old boss Lucas Davenport has vanished from the scene.  The action, however, continues to roll out.

John Sandford has his pen on the pulse of Middle America. Minnesota is his playground and the values are rural small town.  It is an incredibly successful combination.


Excerpts from the novel:

TRUCKS – He hopped in, and she drove him over to Martin’s house.  Frankie drove a truck, and Virgil thought about how there was something about truck-driving women that made them even more attractive than they naturally were; even the Eagles sang about it.

GUNS – “But it baffles me.  Guns are some of the most common tools in America, and most people don’t know any more about them than to point and shoot.”

SEXUAL POLITICS – “Tell the truth, I’m almost afraid to work with her.  She’s an excellent cop, but she’s too good-looking, and that ain’t good, if you know what I mean.  I don’t joke with her.  I don’t walk too close.  I won’t even buy her a cup of fuckin’ coffee.  Or even non-fuckin’ coffee.”

“Very strange,” Virgil said.

“It is, and she doesn’t like it any more than us guys.  But it’s not up to her.  Somebody else could say I was walking too close to her, and, the next thing you know, there’d be an inquiry and we could both have career problems,” Wood said.  “The world is getting goofier by the minute, Virgil.”

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.

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