- File Size: 1710 KB
- Print Length: 380 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1471185575
- Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons (October 1, 2019)
- Publication Date: October 1, 2019
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07N5GV9YL
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,356 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Bloody Genius (A Virgil Flowers Novel Book 12) Kindle Edition
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- Book 12 of 12 in A Virgil Flowers Novel
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More Praise for Bloody Genius
“Sandford is a terrific storyteller who can spin an intriguing tale without having to fill it with death-defying mayhem. . . Armchair sleuths who are intent on solving the crime for themselves will need to be on their toes.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Compulsively readable. . . Readers who like a bit of unrepentant wiseass in their sleuths will find Flowers fits the bill. Sandford makes blending humor and mystery look easy.”—Publishers Weekly
“Flowers remains one of the great modern fictional detectives, and Sandford, as always, supplies amazing secondary characters, sharp dialogue, and plots that confound and amaze. A near-perfect crime novel.”—Booklist (starred review)
“[A] fast-paced, intensifying adventure. As always, the investigation is intricately plotted, while details of Flowers's family life are included for fans of the character. . .
The irreverent humor and language is perfect for the unconventional law officer in the darkly entertaining series.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“[Sandford] appears to have no shortage of story ideas. More impressively, he continues to execute them brilliantly. . . Another dazzling whodunit.”—The Real Book Spy
“Steadily absorbing revelations of all manner of malfeasance, beautifully handled.”—Kirkus Reviews
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Still a fan, and hope the next book is back to the usual quality of the series. Still love you Mr. Sandford, but couldn't hack this one.
The bad news is that the Virgil Flowers series, intended as a fresh free-range-hero series reboot after Sandford's Lucas Davenport series started to go stale, is starting to go stale — and for the same reasons as its predecessor's fate. The Davenport books lost a lot of their steam when its ridiculously frontloaded hero — sexy, smart AND rich! — settled down with one woman. For a while Sandford tried to carry that off by having Davenport and whatever woman he was working with share unfulfilled smoldering, but when that shift got stuck in a cul-de-sac, Sandford shifted up to make Davenport more of a global-stakes thriller hero, and left me behind in the process.
For much of what makes the best Sandford novels work is its window into Quirky Minnesota, a negative image of Guy Noir from Lake Wobegon and "A Prairie Home Companion." There are the small towns struggling to pick pockets of wealth wherever they may be found, the strange offshoot religions with secretive rituals, the farmers who have to get illegally creative to hang on, the multiple generations of families who have lived up each others' asses for too long to murderous effect. All with all the sex you can eat, like the suspiciously glisteny stuff under sneeze guards and heat lamps at Applebee's.
That is largely the appeal of Virgil Flowers, a more downmarket version of Davenport, a range rider of sorts for the Minnesota Bureau of Apprehension who is usually sent to small town to investigate some sort of strange crime with sonorously dark undertones. He's a shaggy-haired anti-heroic hero with drawly sex appeal who gets to know a cast of a dozen or so per story, circling back to them again and again, befriending them, occasionally bedding them, until one pops loose with a gun or a bomb or a knife, lather, rinse, repeat. It's a great formula — Peak Flowers occurred in a novel about eight deep in the series in which he investigated a cheerfully, murderously corrupt small-town school board.
But by the time of BLOODY GENIUS, Flowers is happily settled into a relationship with a woman he hardly ever sees, a woman pregnant with his twins, a farmer mother of five already who is dryly-funny-sexy in the classic Sandford tradition but doesn't really register, because, duty calls. In this case, the big city — Minneapolis, aka Davenport's turf — and BLOODY GENIUS suffers a bit for its lack of remove from the real world. There's too many people, and that means too many characters, and too many of the more interesting ones are left too unexplored (such as Dr. Green, the sexy thirtysomething professor who stirs up academic controversy, who would have gotten co-starring status in the book and the bedroom in an earlier, earthier Flowers story). That's doubly unfortunate, for the killer is someone who hadn't gotten much page time until the unmasking, and for good reason, as the character just isn't very interesting.
(A side note: Sandford has a somewhat retrograde view of women, and it shows to particularly obnoxious effect in BLOODY GENIUS, in which a possible suspect — a teen girl — regularly torments a male friend with look-but-don't-touch flashes between her legs. It has the queasy effect of imbuing the male friend with a measure of sympathy as an incel, and that's not something that anybody wants or needs to read in 2019.)
In all, BLOODY GENIUS is a pallid entry in a series that's reaching a tipping point. Nobody wanted Homebody Davenport, and nobody wants Farmer Spouse Flowers, either. So, what to do? Kill off the love interest? Sandford correctly divined that killing off Davenport's wife would repel his readers, so presumably that's out. Go global-stakes like Davenport and send Flowers around the country, or around the world to do his troubleshooty thing? That would kill the real appeal of the Flowers series -- the tours of the dark corners of rural Minnesota. Sandford's seriously stuck here, and it says something uncomplimentary about him that he could not see the problem coming and sidestep it.
Of course, Sandford doesn't have to do anything but what he's doing. His fan base is secure, loyal, large and likely will follow him anywhere.
Sandford's female characters could've stepped out of a Stuart Woods novel in 1991: their only purpose is to provide sexual fodder for the male characters. Describing a female professor: "tidy breasts under a pale blue blouse who'd look great with her head on a pillow and her legs wrapped around his neck, in Virgil's humble opinion." Another character about the same professor: "after I get my degree, I'd like to turn her upside down." About another female character, a prostitute because of course she is: "She was wearing a mid-thigh green satin dressing gown that showed off her legs, her best feature."
This goes on and on and on. I won't even get into the over-the-top and unnecessary sexually graphic descriptions of Quill's daughter. I guess Detective Trane may be exempt but it hardly matters since she's basically on the phone during this entire stupid novel. Haha, just kidding, of course Trane's not exempt, no women are: "...when you got out of Maggie Trane's bed, you definitely knew you'd been in bed with Maggie Trane. I lost about five pounds that first night."
One of the hallmarks of a good Sandford novel is the quick natural dialog, and boy are we missing that here. The dialog is stilted and trying way too hard; again, think Stuart Woods thirty years ago:
"Shake asked, 'If she's here, which I doubt, you wanna go in hard?'
'Semi-hard,' Virgil said.
'Last time I heard that phrase, I was in bed with a woman from the county recorder's office.' Shrake said.
Good one. I also enjoyed the joke about the cop dating a 14-year-old, that was hilarious.
Antiquated misogyny aside, this book is still a failure. There's no depth and no subplot-- gone are the more sophisticated layered plots of past books that built suspense and kept the reader engaged, here Sandford just drags us headlong through a one-dimensional and unconvincing story full of unlikeable people and implausible answers.
I don't think John Sandford wrote this, I think he's gone the way of so many popular writers before him and he's sold his name to the highest bidder. For the last five or so years I've preordered his upcoming books and looked forward to reading them the day they hit my Kindle, and that's safely over. If you're a fan of Sandford's and a fan of this series, you can skip this one and be better for it.
I gave it 3 stars because it has his usual well drawn characters.
Top international reviews
Usually the Vergil Flowers stories make me laugh a couple of times, smile more, like I said, the timing’s off.
OK, there is a University and there have been differences between two departments, but to call those different ideological points of view a feud - I would not go that far.
Fact is, a very famous Professor of Medical Research is killed at midnight in the University Library where he had a second office. What he did there at that time, with whom he was - the readers know a bit more than the Investigators. His very pricey laptop and his keys have disappeared. But his wallet is still with him, so a mugging gone wrong is early excluded. Virgil "the Effing" Flowers is called away from his happy farming life and his fiancee heavily pregnant with twins, to help the hapless Police Forces. They have reached the end of their investigation without any progress. There are no obvious suspects, no real motive and even the follow-the-money routine comes out with nothing, sooner or later. 2 and a half ex-wives and one daughter, but nothing really suspicious stands out. The daughter is living the student's dream with two male friends, pizza, weed, alcohol and ciggies, but didn't know her father very well. Virgil finds himself with a lot of secondary leads, but nothing really comes around. He and the local Police are along the way solving unrelated crimes, but a real thriller is something else. This is a pure police investigation which takes its time. At one point the author even gave the killer away with a tiny slip that did not pass me by. I only missed a real motive. So the searching and snooping goes on, other people are harmed, till the breakthrough finally arrives in a brainstorming between Virgil and his Missus. Who by the way is a real high-IQ genius herself. A trap is set, doesn't go too well. But the showdown finally arrives and with a whopping-mad stormtroopers help the culprit is finally stopped...
As I said, a thriller this in not. A police investigation with ramifications in all directions is the best way to describe it. John Sandford lets Virgil do what Virgil does best - snooping. Even a cowboy needs a bit of calm sometimes. There is a hunt on, yes. But it is a relatively calm hunt, if You think of some of Virgil's eleven earlier adventures. It is a good read, was really worth MY time. But a bit slow, I must admit. But even 4**** Stars aren't bad. So I look forward to see The Effing Flowers again, better sooner than later...