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Heat Lightning (Virgil Flowers Series #2)

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

John Sandford is a superb writer! . . .

I throughly enjoyed this book! . . . once I began reading it, it was hard to put it down. I am of the Vietnam era and remember the angst of that time. The author so expertly develops his characters that it enables the reader to truly "know" them. The plots in these b...
I throughly enjoyed this book! . . . once I began reading it, it was hard to put it down. I am of the Vietnam era and remember the angst of that time. The author so expertly develops his characters that it enables the reader to truly "know" them. The plots in these books are magnificently woven and there is a believability to them that the reader can relate to. I am totally enamored with the Virgil Flowers character and likewise with Lucas Davenport - please keep the books coming that include their stories.

posted by cewilch on November 24, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Not what I expect from Sanford

Minnesota of Crime Bureau Apprehension investigator, Virgil Flowers, is summoned to the scene of a second murder victim. Two shots to the head, a lemon wedge in the victim's mouth posed in front of a Vietnam War memorial; a far different feeling than that of the warm b...
Minnesota of Crime Bureau Apprehension investigator, Virgil Flowers, is summoned to the scene of a second murder victim. Two shots to the head, a lemon wedge in the victim's mouth posed in front of a Vietnam War memorial; a far different feeling than that of the warm bed he had just shared with his second ex-wife. We know the killer is after a list of others. Targeted Assassinations, probable but why? Left-winged anti-war radical Activist and academic Mead Sinclair explains "When the Vietnamese execute a prisoner-a political prisoner, or even a murderer-they'll gag him by stuffing a lemon in his mouth. Hold it there with tape. Duct tape." Vigilantly or revenge killings? By whom and why? Flowers must find out before any more bodies are found.

Sanford's great plot idea becomes laborious, and somewhat torturous with his overuse of time breaks that even confounded him and the publisher's proof readers. Glaring mistakes causes the reader to stop and regroup just as Flowers in his investigation. While the answer to the why Virgil is always seeming a step behind the shooter is finally answered, not so with the author's proof reading oversights. Nor is the question why Flowers cannot hold conversations in which double entendres are interjected or the blatant fact that he much rather be out on boat fishing.

Even Prey's Lucas Davenport's appearance can't save this novel.(Character is flat. For those whom never had read any of the Prey series, the reader would assume he is just another so-so bureaucrat.) Philosophical questions of God, the eco-system, politics Sanford raises are out of place to the story he is telling and its ending ventures into the realm of absurdity.

posted by Molinarolo on July 27, 2009

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  • Posted January 11, 2010

    another good John Sandford page turner

    Another book about that f Flowers! I inhale new John Sandford books in a weekend, and this one didn't dissapoint. It kept me entertained & intrigued.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 19, 2009

    A good read, but not Sanford's best

    Overall this was a good book to read, but was somewhat predictable. It would have been better to have seen more interaction between Virgil and the characters he was pursuing.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 7, 2014

    An entertaining read!

    Virgil Flowers is a super character - just the right mixture of a clever tough cop, maverick wise-guy, outdoors-man, and charming but sensitive ladies' man. Sandford always creates lots of interesting characters, many of whom are plausible suspects. The story captures the reader's interest and curiosity right up to the end of the book. If you know a little about the geography and semi-rural culture of southern Minnesota, you will enjoy the book even more.

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  • Posted March 14, 2014

    Awesome!

    Only took 2 days to read, I just couldn't put it down. That "F'n Flowers" is currently my #2 favorite character....send only to Lucas Davenport!

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  • Posted April 9, 2013

    Great read.

    I think the Flowers series is better than Davenport.

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  • Posted February 2, 2013

    Someone is killing Vietnam War Veterans. Each time, the deceased

    Someone is killing Vietnam War Veterans. Each time, the deceased man is left at a veteran's memorial with a lemon in his mouth. After two of these murders, it is clear to Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator, Lucas Davenport, that there is a connection. Unable to devote his own skills, (Davenport is featured in Sandford's "Prey" series), he calls in the only man who can clean up the mess. It is time to call in the man he hired to solve "the hard stuff".
    Enter Virgil Flowers, the thirty something detective, whose quirky, off the cuff reputation is as well known as his ability to solve the cases that no one else can. To say Flowers doesn't fit the standard law enforcement mode would be an understatement. He keeps is blond hair at shoulder length, wears rock band t-shirts and cowboy boots, occasionally writes for national outdoors magazines, and keeps in contact with various women and ex-wives, all of whom he has fallen in love with. Despite all of this apparent baggage, Flowers gets the job done, and he does it well. As he begins investigating the deaths of the veterans, he realizes that they are being killed professionally, as if they are each being checked off of a list. When he discovers the connections, he is immersed in a global conspiracy dating back to the time of the war.
    There is no denying Sandford's ability to create riveting mysteries with relatable characters. He writes with an urgency that keeps the plot moving, never allowing the suspense to ease. As I read, I continued to be sucked deeper into the mystery as each twist and turn was unveiled. Virgil Flowers has a charismatic everyman charm that forced me to root for him. It has been almost a year since I read the first Virgil Flowers novel, and I forgot how much I enjoyed the world that Sandford has provided. There is a kind of timelessness to the story that will surely appeal to any mystery fans. With two solid novels, this series is quickly becoming my new favorite!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2012

    This is a fun read

    This is a fun read & neat story, although the story seems a bit outside of even remote reality. What makes it so fun is that it's full of the J.S. descriptive writing that doesn't have to be joined by hard-core action to keep the pace thrilling, but usually is ... full of Virgil's dowm-to-earth outlook on life, his wit & detective talents ... and full of the fun Lucas Davenport characters I've come to know after reading 1-19 of the "Prey" series.

    I can't wait for more of Lucas, Virgil & eventually the Kidd series ... but it makes me sad to realize that I'm quickly running out of their emploits in print. It's too bad J.S. can't write them as fast as I can read them.

    P.S. I loved the ending here - A sense of closure & a sense of justice. No one really won, but you could smile & live with it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2011

    follow Virgil in finding the bad "person"

    if you like series - you will like Sandford's novels about VIrgil, a clever and interesting character - am reading all of Sandford's 'Virgil' books

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2011

    good read!

    I thought it was a good read. I love the Prey series and while this is different, there is a flavor with some of the same characters. The only bad thing is that I read them too fast.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2010

    Another great Sandford read!

    Another great read from John Sandford. The Virgil Flowers character lets Sandford use a slightly different, more irreverent voice than he does with the Davenport series.

    Read anything by Michael Connelly or Walter Mosley.

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  • Posted March 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Virgil Flowers Returns!

    Fans of the first book in the Virgil Flowers series will not be disappointed in the second installment. This time Virgil tangles with various characters involved in what appear to be revenge killings stemming from an incident nearly forty years earlier in Vietnam. This book has more graphic violence than the first, and the huge cast of characters as well as numerous law enforcement agencies often made reading it confusing. But Virgil is as appealing a hero as ever, and the Minnesota setting - with a Lucas Davenport connection - is enjoyable.

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  • Posted February 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Better than the Dark Side of the Moon

    Second of the Virgil Flowers novels, this book was an entertaining read from the start.

    It seems Vietnam veterans are being targeted for murder. But that's not all...the bodies are placed prominently at veterans memorials with a lemon shoved in their mouths. Why are the deceased being targeted? By whom? And can Virgil solve the case before anyone else gets killed and certainly before the Republican National Convention comes to town, bringing the country's media eye to focus on Minneapolis!!

    I liked this book better than the first in the series, Dark Side of the Moon. The story is nonstop from the outset and the characters (especially Virgil) seem more in focus than the earlier story. Sanford weaves the plot masterfully as it works toward the solution. I Thought I'd figured it out (but of course I didn't) and kept the pages turning right until the end. I'm looking forward to more in this series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

    Love John Sandford Books!

    This new Virgil Flowers is a kick and will look forward to reading more John Sandford with Virgil! We lived in Minnesota 6 years and I enjoy reliving the sites, landscape, and weather in John Sanford books. More books John!

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    Comfortable John Sandford

    Virgil Flowers second appearance... but if you were comfortable with John Sandford's Lucas Davenport then Flowers is in your comfort wheelhouse albeit a bit more physical and a lone wolf as Winter has domesticated Lusas a bit. Sandford books on disc are great for my long drives between Little Rock and Dallas. One book equals one round trip. Perfect.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2009

    Flowers blooms

    This book kept my intrest from the beginning. This was one of the few that I had a very hard time let go of. The reader in the audio version got hold of me and many times I could not leave my vehicle often for 15 min. after I arrived at my destination. Ltet's have more of that F******* Flowers.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    mystery

    usual good writing

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2008

    Heat Lightning

    A man is found murdered on a veteran¿s memorial and found with a lemon in his mouth. His name was Chuck Utecht. A week later, Bob Sanderson is killed in the same fashion only a few miles away from the first. Both victims were male, Vietnam veterans, attending the very same war recovery seminars to repair any psychological damage their experiences may have caused. Investigator Virgil Flower is used to seeing out of the ordinary scenarios and using his detective skills to find the truth behind walls of lies. However, the case he is now faced with may just end up being a little more then he bargained for. From what little leads he is given, Flowers is sent on a wild goose chase to find the person responsible for the death of the two individuals. Convinced that the victims were targets on someone¿s ¿hit¿ list, it is imperative that the assassin is caught before more people suffer the same gruesome fate. But who could be the killer? Could it be the professor who was angered by the Bob¿s opinions on the war be taking action as a means of revenge? Or the biker who was thought to be Bob¿s friend, but clearly indicates he has something to hide when he attacks Flowers to escape questioning? No one knows, but the truth awaits revelation. <BR/><BR/>By developing characters that his audience can relate to on a personal level, Sandford creates a bond between the reader¿s reality and imagination. The invented people of the novel seem to come alive as the audience pain or happiness, or discomfort in result of the characters experiences. Virgil Flowers, for example, is a man that any reader can relate to. He is not only the protagonist of the novel, but is one of the author¿s techniques of drawing in his audience. At the beginning of the novel, he is unsure what he wants accomplished in his life. Flowers knows that drastic alterations need to be made in his life, but isn¿t sure how to make those changes occur. Still, as the story continues, his experiences force him to realize what love, risk and pride really is. His job as investigator serves as a personal challenge which develops the personality and courage needed to attain the lifestyle he truly desires. <BR/><BR/>The authors ability to play the audience¿s emotions is a unique and fascinating quality of his writing. The audience feels like they are part of the story by stimulating both mind and emotion. Murder scenes, in particular, are well written in the author¿s unique style. Feelings of anxiety and tension are felt as the assassin nears his victim in secrecy. Soon the sensations changes to thrill and exhilaration when a finger is put onto the metal trigger of the silenced gun. Finally, as the man falls to the ground, the reader is filled with disbelief but also anticipation for what is going to happen next. When it comes to interjecting gritty, ¿edge-of-your-seat-¿suspense, John Sandford proves his ability to entice sensation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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