Deadline by John Sandford

Reviewed by Allen Hott

DeadlineBack out in Minnesota where Virgil Flowers, an agent for the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is at first looking into dognapping possibilities in Trippton. One of his fishing buddies, Johnson Johnson (yep that is his real name), called him to relate how the community was up in arms because somebody or actually several somebodies had been snatching up dogs on a very large scale. They were taking hunting dogs (which really upset most of these outdoor folks) and even house pets. Rumor was that the dogs were being sold to a various establishments. Some went to people looking for hunting dogs, some to families for pets and even some to schools and such for experimental reasons and vet training classes.

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The folks claim that on certain times of the day they can hear a lot of barking from up in the woods where some “hillbillies” live. Virgil persuades them not to take up arms and go up there to find the dogs and the dognappers. Johnson convinces them Virgil is a good guy and that he will straighten it all out.

However when Virgil goes up in the hills he finds very good evidence of someone cooking drugs in a big time way. There are all sorts of pieces of equipment and items used to cook the drugs. He immediately calls this into his boss who sets up for the DEA to come down as soon as possible to do a looksee and a raid.

While Sandford has these two sub-plots going on in a somewhat lower key but still enough to keep readers’ interests he then brings in another super sub-plot which involves members of the Trippton school board. There are some rumors of possible misconduct by the board members which might entail some type of theft of school funds.

This part of Deadline really gets interesting and takes a huge hunk of Virgil’s time as he begins to investigate exactly what is going in the school board’s meetings and outside the meetings.

It appears that many of the members (or actually most of them) are involved in the finagling of funds in their own separate ways but also as a concentrated group effort.

As Virgil gets closer and closer to finding out exactly what is going on and who is involved several people in Trippton are killed. Even these killings somehow point to the schoolboard and its members.

Virgil has to enlist more help from the BCA and with these folks plus Johnson he really digs deeply into the whole matter. But as a good writer does, Sandford keeps kind of flopping back and forth into not only the dognapping but also the drug manufacturing so Virgil’s time and the reader’s time is spent bouncing back and forth looking into all three of the subplots.

Typical well written Sandford story with perhaps a bit too much profanity and sexual innuendoes but if the reader can read through that sort of thing he can really follow an interesting chain of events.

Always look forward to Sandford’s writings as some of the best available!