Fourth Virgil Flowers book, following on from Rough Country. A seemingly motiveless murder in a small farming town is followed by the criminal's apparent suicide in jail, and Virgil is called in. Attention soon focuses on a small self-contained church that calls itself "World of the Spirit".
This must have been written around the same time as Storm Prey which I read recently, but it feels quite a bit fresher than that - not sure if that's because Flowers novels are a comparatively new phenomenon, or because the Prey series is running out of steam. The story has the same sort of feel as the other Flowers books - called in to help the locals investigate something bad in a rural setting, but you sense that Sandford is having more fun with Virgil.
The structure was a bit different from other books (IIRC) - the narrative is split between Virgil's PoV and that of the criminals, so you know pretty soon what's going on, even though Virgil doesn't. I'm not sure the plot was a fantastically good one, but it was the writing and characterisation that made this book so good.
Flowers is still irresistible to women - in this one, the sheriff of the town. But he's irresistible to the reader too:
"I've never kissed a sheriff before."
"Probably never felt one up, either," she said, patting her hair back into place. "Not that I didn't like it."
He thought about a wisecrack, but instantly suppressed it, going instead for a sincere-sounding, and possibly shy-sounding, "I wouldn't have ... characterized it like that."
She squinted at him, one eye blue, one eye green, and then, he thought, bought it. If you can sell sincerity to a woman, you're halfway home. Not to be cynical about it.
Completed : 09-May-2011