Thursday, January 16, 2014

STORM FRONT by John Sandford

John Sandford

One star? Two stars? I can't decide. If I were to use a star system, I would need a 1/2 star option for this one. I did not like the book, but I like Virgil Flowers, in general, as a character.

I became disenchanted with John Sandford when he killed off one of his characters, portraying her as single and wanting a child, while in the previous book, the character already had a child. I can be unforgiving for glaring errors such as this. I read Storm Front nonetheless, as I am a fan of Sandford's character, Virgil Flowers.

And, I honestly did not like Storm Front, despite the presence of Flowers. Mossad, Hezbollah, assassins, and the like all searching for a stolen Israeli relic in Mankato, Minnesota? The plot is as confusing as it is unbelievable. Flowers' process in solving the mystery is also not credible. I found it difficult to keep the characters straight, and the ones I could get a grasp on are shells of characters, with little development at all. Even Virgil Flowers, with his interesting, well-developed back story, is portrayed without much development or depth; he does not appear as the same good looking, intelligent, un-police-officer-like police officer whom I have grown to love.

Parts of the book appear to have no purpose. For example, at one point, Flowers goes to the garage to detail the interior of his boat. For those of us who have known Virgil, it comes as no surprise that his boat would be spotless - why would he need to detail it? Those who do not know Virgil might wonder why he would need to detail his boat. There does not appear to be any relevance to the plot. Also, the snippets of conversation between Flowers and Davenport appear to be superfluous and meaningless to the story.

            Furthermore, I found the writing itself is wanting. The first line of Chapter 2 begins: "It was one of the great Minnesota summers of all time...." Elsewhere, Sandford describes the Holiday Inn, “an older building downtown, left over from the sixties or seventies, slowly failing in place….” And later in the book, we are told that Virgil, while driving, "threw them off Highway 14 and onto 390th Street to West Elysian Lake Road...."

The book was not a total disappointment. When we are told that "Virgil changed into combat gear - jeans and a T-shirt....," we catch a glimpse of the Virgil Flowers we know and love. Nonetheless, Storm Front leaves me with the impression that Sandford does not understand that his characters have developed a life of their own and that this book was put together in great haste. I remain disappointed.


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