Heat Lightning by John Sandford


Heat LightningReviewed by Allen Hott

An interesting cop novel again starring Virgil Flowers, one of John Sandford’s favorite characters. With these stories by Sandford there is not a lot of mystery as normally the killer is known fairly early on but Virgil’s job is to not only catch him but to catch him before being killed by him. If and when he finds him, that is!

Virgil normally works in the northern Midwest as a freelance operator for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Heat Lightning is set in Minnesota and in the midst of a hot, humid summer with plenty of heat lightning. Virgil is called into a case where victims are turning up shot to death and placed at various Veterans’ Memorial sites. Also they all have had a piece of lemon stuck in their mouths.

Shortly into the investigation Virgil finds a tie-in with veterans’ organizations and the fact that several of the victims attended these together on various occasions. There appears to have been an incident in Viet Nam many years ago when a group of American mercenary type soldiers were involved in a terrible killing and rape.

The first two victims that were killed in the attacks that Virgil is investigating were part of that crew of soldiers. He has to find who and where are the rest of the gang and who is responsible for chasing them down in the states. Before he can get too far along however several others are killed and all links again appear to point back to Viet Nam.

As he digs he finds another possible candidate but it turns out that this one was only aware of the situation and didn’t participate. However in finding this candidate Virgil meets up with several Vietnamese as well as the “daughter” of the candidate. She is also from Viet Nam and Virgil quickly becomes enamored with her. The possible candidate vouches for the Vietnamese and Virgil goes on looking for other sources of the murders.

The plot continues to thicken when not only the FBI but the CIA also becomes involved in hunting. How the “bad guys” always seem to be locked in on where Virgil is looking and why they are so involved in the hunt allows Sandford to build an interesting climatic finish to a great read. There is no doubt that Virgil Flowers will turn up many more times in Sandford’s books!

Disclosure in Accordance with FTC Guidelines 16 CFR Part 255



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