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Dark of the Moon (Virgil Flowers Series #1)

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Overview

Three murders in just as many weeks in the quiet rural town of Bluestream is unheard of. It’s also no coincidence. And it’s not over: Detective Virgil Flowers is about to be pulled into the middle of a killer’s violent personal vendetta.

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Dark of the Moon (Virgil Flowers Series #1)

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Overview

Three murders in just as many weeks in the quiet rural town of Bluestream is unheard of. It’s also no coincidence. And it’s not over: Detective Virgil Flowers is about to be pulled into the middle of a killer’s violent personal vendetta.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Somebody is killing old people in Bluestem, Minnesota. When star Minnesota cop Virgil Flowers arrives in town to investigate the murder of an elderly couple, the local police chief invites him to help search for the slayer of another aged person, Bill Judd. Aware that octogenarians aren't the usual targets of serial killers, Lucas Davenport's ace assistant begins probing for this strange geriatric backlash. It doesn't take him long to realize that the friendly little town conceals some big, ugly secrets.
Publishers Weekly

What a pleasure to find a novel with an upbeat hero paired with a reader who is more interested in telling a story well than in demonstrating the outer limits of his vocal range. Far from the usual cynical, borderline-depressed investigator, Virgil Flowers is a likable, hang-loose sort of sleuth who enjoys life and seems to relish handling the "hard stuff" for his boss, Lucas Davenport (Sandford's Preyseries hero makes a brief cameo). Flowers's assignment is to investigate several gruesome murders in a small town. Unlike the harder-edged Preyseries, Moonis more of an entertainment, allowing Flowers to supplement his determined quest for justice with witty conversation and several romantic interludes. Conger matches the lighter moods with a mellow, almost mesmerizing matter-of-fact delivery, adjusting his vocal range just slightly to differentiate speakers. But when the action demands it-such as the grim opening murder scene or the suspenseful storming of the cult leader's encampment-Conger's voice takes on a properly hardboiled intensity. Simultaneous release with the Putnam hardcover (Reviews, July 23). (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Virgil Flowers, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator introduced as a sidekick to Lucas Davenport in Invisible Prey (2007), gets a death-enriched case of his own. In a little town like Bluestem, everybody knows everybody's business, and what everybody knows these days is that everybody's getting killed. The flagship victim is Bill Judd, 82, the wealthy lawyer/banker/trader who made enemies right and left with a Jerusalem artichoke pyramid scheme 20 years ago. He's an obvious target for the methodical arsonist who burned down his house with him inside. But the other victims are much more inoffensive: ancient physician Russell Gleason and his wife, retired Stark County sheriff Roman Schmidt and his wife. The current sheriff, Jimmy Stryker, doesn't mind working with a BCA type like Virgil. He doesn't even mind the sidelong gazes Virgil casts at his recently divorced sister, Joan Carson. And he brings up his share of promising ideas about the case, which involves money laundering, a meth lab, a surprise claimant to the Judd estate and a truly nasty man of the cloth. But could he be the target of his own manhunt? The advanced age of the victims makes Virgil think that the crimes could have deep roots-maybe as deep as a "man on the moon" party Bill Judd hosted back in 1969. Sadly, it seems to take another 38 years for Virgil and company, making endless rounds of Bluestem to ask really obvious questions, to close the case. The pace is so much slower than when Davenport is in charge that you may wonder if Virgil, a perfectly reasonable hero, is under sedation. It's not until the Acknowledgments, which are deferred till the end of the story, that this last and deepest mysteryis cleared up. A high-fatality, low-octane procedural that has its points but lacks the wow factor. Bring back Lucas Davenport. First printing of 500,000
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399154775
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/2/2007
  • Series: Virgil Flowers Series , #1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

John Sandford is the pseudonym of Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist John Camp. He is the author of the Prey novels, the Kidd novels, the Virgil Flowers novels, The Night Crew, and Dead Watch. He lives in New Mexico.

Biography

John Camp (better known to readers as thrillmeister John Sandford) began his career as a journalist -- first as a crime reporter for The Miami Herald, then as a general reporter, columnist, and features writer for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press & Dispatch. In 1986, he won the Pulitzer Prize for "Life on the Land: An American Farm Family," a five-part series examining the farm crisis in southwest Minnesota.

Camp's interests turned to fiction in the mid-1980s, and he took time off to write two novels which were ultimately accepted for publication: The Fool's Run, a techno-thriller featuring a complex con man known as Kidd, and Rules of Prey, a police procedural starring maverick Minneapolis detective Lucas Davenport. When both books were scheduled (by different publishers) to be released three months apart in 1989, Camp was persuaded to adopt a pseudonym for one. He chose his paternal grandmother's maiden name, "Sandford" for Rules of Prey, and the nom de plume has remained attached to all the books in the series.

Less Dick Tracy than Dirty Harry, hard-boiled, iconoclastic Lucas Davenport is a composite of the cops Camp met while working the crime beat as a reporter. Intelligent and street smart, Davenport is also manipulative and not above bending the rules to get results. And although he has mellowed over time (something of a skirt chaser in his youth, he is now married with children), he remains one of the edgiest and most popular protagonists in detective fiction. Fans keep returning to the Prey books for their intelligently hatched plots, high-octane pacing, and deft, fully human characterizations.

From time to time, Camp strays from his bestselling series for standalone thrillers (The Night Crew, Dead Watch), and in 2007 he introduced a new series hero, Virgil Flowers of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, who debuted in Dark of the Moon. Although he is no longer a full-time journalist, Camp contributes occasional articles and book reviews to various publications. He is also a passionate archaeologist and has worked at a number of digs, mainly in Israel.

Good To Know

Don't confuse John Sandford with John Sanford -- it's one of Sandford's pet peeves. Sanford (without the "d") is a Christian philosophy writer.

The Sandford pseudonym has caused a few problems for Camp in the past. At an airport once, his ticket was reserved under Sandford, while all of his identification, of course, had the name Camp. Luckily, he had one of his novels with him, and thanks to the book jacket photo, he was able to convince airport security to let him on the plane.

The books in Camp's less successful Kidd series (The Fool's Run, The Empress File, The Devil's Code, and The Hanged Man's Song) have been re-released under the Sandford pseudonym.

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Roswell Camp
    2. Hometown:
      St. Paul, Minnesota
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 23, 1944
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    1. Education:
      State University of Iowa, Iowa City: B.A., American History; M.A., Journalism
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 234 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(90)

4 Star

(82)

3 Star

(35)

2 Star

(15)

1 Star

(12)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 235 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 16, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Best of John Sanford

    I have always been first in line for all Lucas Davenport books for a long time. I haven't read the plot outline on the jacket for the last 15 books, just take for granted it will live up to my expectations. When I realized this book was about another character, Virgil Flowers, I didn't hesitate but jumped right in. Of course this novel proved to be another score for Sanford. I really like Virgil and his cool, laidback approach to law inforcement. Can hardly wait for the next in this exciting series.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A reviewer

    To look at him nobody would believe that Virgil Flowers is a police officer one of Lucas Davenport¿s best (see INVISIBLE PREY for the case in which Flowers assisted the Minnesota Bureau of Crime Apprehension Chief). He wears casual clothing, has long hair, looks younger than his years and has a breezy amiable manner which enables him to make friends easily. He is on his way to Bluestem, Minnesota to investigate the deaths of the octogenarian Gleasons, who apparently knew their killer.----------------- As he enters the town he sees a house belonging to the recently deceased wealthy Bill Judd. The sheriff asks Virgil to help him with the Judd murder another eighty-something year old person killed in a horrendous fashion. Judd scammed the townsfolk with a pyramid scheme making millions so he had plenty of enemies. In a town where murder almost never occurs three in a short period of time doesn¿t strike Flowers as coincidental especially the age of the victims. When another couple also in their eighties is killed, Flower is certain that there is a methodical organized sociopath killer hiding in plain sight. During the course of his investigations he discovers a meth lab, a mole in the police department, and a church dealing with criminals. For one independent police officer he finds himself involved with a serial killer, townsfolk, the sheriff, a lover and the dead all lead him to the killer if he is clever to find the link.-------------- John Sandford¿s latest protagonist is an adrenaline junkie living on the edge but within the rules of an excellent police officer. Flower deserves his own series because his style and methods is as good as his boss Lucas Davenport even though there are ying and yang. There are many different mysteries that tie into the storyline and they are easy to follow although the reader will be perplexed until the very last page of a very fine and exciting police procedural.----------- Harriet Klausner

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Dark of the Moon by John Sandford

    You cannot go wrong when you choose any of John Sandford's books. His 'Prey' series is without a doubt one of the best crime novel series I have ever read. Dark of the Moon presents Virgil Flowers as the pursuing investigator and is equally as riveting in character development, plot and edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting moments. I highly recommend this book as a must read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I loved this book!

    I thought that this book was worth the read. I found it thoroughly entertaining and looked forward to reading the whole thing. I am excited to finish the series!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2012

    After reading 1-19 of the "Prey Series" by J.S. ...

    I've just finished reading 1-19 of the "Prey Series", switched to the Virgil Flowers series & found a different kind of J.S. hero. Virgil is more down-to-earth, seems to live a life less "on-the-edge" & relies more on relentless detective work than Lucas Davenport whose keen insight seems to guide him. BUT that's all part of Virgil's charm & why you so easily connect w/him.

    The setting contrast made me wonder if it might be a constant in the Virgil series - the rural country cowboy cop vs the big city & often beset by politics cop - 2 types of law enforcement. It seems likely such a contrast would change the pace of the stories, but the always exciting J.S. pace wasn't lacking. The villians seemed less evil (psychotic), but that hardly feels like a valid point w/the number of dead bodies piled up around Virgil.

    Time read on so I can stop speculating & comparing Virgil to Lucas ...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2009

    Dark of the moon

    Very suspenseful..held my interest all throught the booki

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2014

    Great Read!

    A long time follower of Lucas Davenport, this is my first venture in the Virgil Flowers series. And if you enjoy the "Prey" series, I believe you will enjoy Virgil Flowers. Read this one in three days, and am looking forward to the next one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 8, 2012

    As a fan of mystery/thriller novels, I am always looking for gre

    As a fan of mystery/thriller novels, I am always looking for great new series to read. Despite numerous recommendations, I have never read a novel by John Sandford. To date, he has published 21 novels in his popular "Prey" series, but I decided to begin with his more recent series, featuring Virgil Flowers.

    Flowers is not your run of the mill detective. He keeps his blonde hair at a surfer length, wears "band" t-shirts, and has a kind of bad boy reputation. Despite these quirks, Virgil Flowers knows how to get the job done. Three years ago, he was hired by Lucas Davenport of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to help solve "the hard stuff". When he gets sent to the small town of Bluestem to investigate the gruesome murder of a local doctor and his wife, he is thrust into the center of the "hardest" one he has ever faced.

    Upon his arrival, Virgil witnesses the home of Bill Judd Sr. explode into flames, killing the local business man and leaving Flowers to believe that the apparent arson, now murder, is connected to the town's other recent events. With the assistance of the young Bluestem Sheriff, Jim Stryker, who is desperately seeking the approval of the town for reelection, Flowers uncovers a decades old conspiracy of financial fraud, lustful infidelity and a possible drug operation that threatens to rock the sleepy town. Add to all of this a psychotic serial killer, and you've got one exciting novel.

    John Sandford seems to have found the perfect balance of plot, character, and setting that makes his novel compulsively engaging. In Virgil Flowers, Sandford has imagined an oddball protagonist that you can't help but root for. Sandford's simple prose keeps the story moving while still providing enough description to give the reader a sense of the small town setting. I felt the ending was a bit rushed, but the clever twists and interesting characters make this novel worth reading. I look forward to encountering this character in the other four novels in this series. After reading this, I have to agree that John Sandford produces strong thrillers. Perhaps I will try to tackle the 21 volume "Prey" series in the near future.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2008

    New Detective Shines

    I really liked the unusual setting of this mystery: a small town in southeastern Minnesota. Virgil Flowers is the type of anti-hero detective who's hard not to like. A stunning description of a shootout at a rural drug lord's house is definitely a highlight.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2014

    Sorry

    Author, sorry i hate nook

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2014

    I would like to read the John Sandford series&was lookn 4 bo

    I would like to read the John Sandford series&was lookn 4 book 1,it says when introducing the book,that Dark of the Moon is book 1 but some of u said it is not n his series!!!Can some1 plz give me the prey book list in order so i will not read outta sequence..........THNX

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2013

    Very good book

    J.G. did it again. Hard put down and the story was well written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2012

    One of Sanford's best. Check it out.

    I love the Virgil Flowers series. If you read one...you will want the entire series. You will not be disappointed.

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  • Posted October 26, 2012

    great

    Don't stop here . Read 'em all!

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  • Posted October 5, 2012

    Another Hit for John Sandford

    John Sanford has been great with his Prey series following Lucas Davenport through his trials and tribulations. Now his sidekick Virgil Flowers takes center stage with this new series. Sandford develops this new main character from the prey series and gives the right tieback to the prey series while fully developing this new series. It's a great read, with good character development and an intriguing plot. If you like the prey series, you'll like this one too.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2012

    Great Reading

    This is not part of his Prey series, but the writing is just as brilliant andstands out as an example of why John Sanford sells so many books every time he writes one.

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  • Posted March 19, 2012

    John Sandford and Virgil Flowers.....WhooHoo!

    Virgil Flowers is one strange cop dude who knows how to solve the big puzzles. Good read, good action. John Sandford knows how to write a thriller.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2012

    Silverfern

    I'll come, Artemis. *gets to her paws and pads into the woods*

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2012

    ?

    Hey is there someone here named rosekit?

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Intriguing

    The small town mystery is full of twists and turns, but the hero, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation's Virgil Flowers, makes this novel a great read. I can't wait to see where Sandford takes Flowers next.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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