Skip to main content

Escape Clause by John Sandford

Escape Clause is the ninth Virgil Flowers novel by John Sandford.  I have previously reviewed the first eight installments of this series here on the blogs.  Here's a link to the last one: Deadline.  And you can click on the John Sandford tag or search John Sandford on the blog to find the others.  In this installment Flowers takes on a wild case that quickly escalates from thievery/catnapping to murder.

When two rare, endangered tigers are catnapped from the state zoo, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension puts their best investigator on the case that could become a public relations nightmare if the tigers turn up dead.  Unfortunately scant clues and even less evidence leads to few leads for Flowers to follow up.  So he does what he does best: he starts asking questions, gathering information, and learning the local players in the illegal animal poaching and traditional medicine communities.  Eventually he bumps up against a name, Winston Peck, M.D., a shady character in the traditional medicine community in Minnesota; however, little actually ties Peck to the theft of the tigers.  A stray print at the crime scene yields another name, Hamlet Simonian, a small time criminal with a long rap sheet.  After Simonian's name and photo are released to the press, Peck's carefully controlled operation begins its slow but steady spin out of his control.  To clean up loose ends, Peck kills Simonian as well as some of the other players in the tiger-napping ring.

Flowers' investigation, taking heat from the media when hours turn to days with no tigers in sight, is unexpectedly complicated when an RV full of Simonians turns up in Minnesota; its occupants determined to find out what's being done to bring Hamlet's killer to justice and to conduct their own clandestine investigation to exact vengeance in the form of a pound of flesh.  Little does Peck know that the cops are the least of his problems.  If the tiger doesn't eat him first, the Simonians will kill him and no doubt feed the corpse to the tiger unless Flowers can roll him up first.

Meanwhile Flowers' girlfriend, Frankie, gets beat up in a case of mistaken identity.  After her sister Sparkle turns up to research the shady employment of undocumented workers at a shady, local factory for her dissertation, both women become targets of the factory's hired goons.  This turns out to be more distraction than threat in terms of Flowers' investigation, and nothing really comes of Sparkle's research (yet).

This is a page turning, highly readable thriller shot through with the subtle humor for which the Flowers novels have become known.  Fans of Sandford and especially the Flowers novels will enjoy this installment.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


Popular posts from this blog

Broken by Karin Slaughter

Before I begin the formal review there are a few things I need to get off my chest in the wake of finishing this book; I'll do so without giving away too many (or any) spoilers.
The OUTRAGE!: the identity of Detective Lena Adams' new beau; the low depths to which Grant County's interim chief has sunk and brought the police force down with him; agent Will Trent's wife, Angie's, sixth sense/nasty habit of reappearing in his life just when he's slipping away from her. Thank God for small miracles though because while Angie was certainly referred to during the book, the broad didn't make an appearance. One sign that I've become way too invested in these characters is that I'd like to employ John Connolly's odd pair of assassins, Louis and Angel, to contract out a hit on Angie; do you think Karin Slaughter and John Connolly could work out a special cross over?
Hallelujah: Dr. Sara Linton and agent Will Trent are both back. There is no hallelujah for…

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

When the end came, it seemed to do so completely out of the blue, and it wasn't until long afterward that I was able to see that there was a chain of events leading up to it. Some of those events had nothing to do with us, the Morrisons, but were solely the concern of the Pyes, who lived on a farm about a mile away and were our nearest neighbors." from page seven
I must confess that it took me longer than it really needed to in order to finish the novel Crow Lake by Mary Lawson. The entire story is building up to the big catastrophe that forever destroys all the hopes and dreams the Morrison clan ever dared to hope and dream for its future. In the eyes of the narrator, it is even worse than the tragedy of the car crash that claimed both parents' lives one evening on the heels of some good news the family has received and celebrated. Now you can see why I dreaded getting to the end of a book that drips in foreboding like nobody's business. What can be a worse tra…

In The Woods by Tana French

"What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. Our relationship with the truth is fundamental, but cracked, refracting confusingly like fragmented glass. It is the core of our careers, the endgame of every move we make, and we pursue it with strategies painstakingly constructed of lies ... and every variation on deception. The truth is the most desirable woman in the world and we are the most jealous lovers, reflexively denying anyone else the slightest glimpse of her. We betray her routinely ... This is my job ... What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this--two things: I crave truth. And I lie." opening lines of In The Woods chapter 1, pages 3-4
In The Woods by Tana French, an Irish writer, is an extremely well-written and well-crafted mystery novel. The downside is that this is French's debut novel, and her website (located at does not offer any insi…