Dark of the Moon by John Sandford



Dark of the moon Dark of the MoonSandford, John; Putman Pub. 2007WorldCatWhen an old couple is murdered, Virgil Flowers is sent to Bluestem. Virgil is an investigator for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He arrives in time to see a house burning down. Bill Judd was already dying when he was tortured, then killed in the inferno. Judd was a rich man who made much of his money in a pyramid scheme which devastated the town around 20 years earlier. He also was a notorious womanizer, leaving memories all over the town. Although there doesn’t seem to be a connection between the deaths, Virgil is certain that the murders that brought him to Bluestem and Judd’s death are related.

Virgil gets together with the local sheriff, Jim Stryker, to work on the cases. He also meets Stryker’s sister, Laura, and they quickly hit it off. As Virgil starts asking questions, he learns that the Judd family has left quite a swathe through the small town. The man who died had one legitimate son and one illegitimate daughter in Bluestem. The younger Judd seems to spend more than he makes and is relying on his father’s fortune. Jim and Laura Stryker’s father committed suicide shortly after the pyramid scheme fell apart. He had been unwittingly involved in the scheme and felt the guilt that Judd never had. Many lost their farms and moved away from the town. The first elderly couple had been friends of Judd from before the scandal but had since split with him.

Virgil keeps digging. Then the man who had been sheriff until his retirement is killed, along with his wife. The local white supremacist preacher becomes a suspect but Virgil believes there may be more there. All the threads twist different ways. Now Virgil has to see how, or if, they all connect.

Virgil is a comfortable, likeable man who works for Lucas Davenport, from John Sandford’s Prey series. He has good instincts. He makes friends easily, but if those friends seem suspicious, he’ll pursue his leads all the while hoping he is wrong. Dark of the Moon has many different tangents, but they all come together into two major crimes that intersect. Virgil’s personality keeps this book from getting too dark or edgy, yet still keeps a good mystery going.

Sandford keeps his reader’s interest throughout Dark of the Moon. At the end, when Virgil brings all his suspects together, he still isn’t sure he is targeting the right person. There’s still a chance the murderer could be one of the supposed “good guys”. And let’s not forget who stirred the simmering pot in Bluestem…

Notice:  Graphic violence, Strong indecent language, Suggestive dialogue or situations

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