Book 3), Rough Country (A Virgil Flowers Novel

By John Sandford

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
eli bishop
Oh for Heaven's sake, stop complaining and get on with life. If you like John Sandford (by the way, I buy all of his books) don't wait to get this on Kindle. So it's over $10.00--so what. The story is good, the characters are great and I can carry it and all of my other Kindle books with me in one sleek folder. I love my Kindle and I really like this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christine frank
If you like the Lucas Davenport/Virgil Flowers story line you will love this - many twists and turns - you don't want to put it down until you've finished reading it. Excellent if you like crime/mysteries.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mollie giem
Oh for Heaven's sake, stop complaining and get on with life. If you like John Sandford (by the way, I buy all of his books) don't wait to get this on Kindle. So it's over $10.00--so what. The story is good, the characters are great and I can carry it and all of my other Kindle books with me in one sleek folder. I love my Kindle and I really like this book.
Shadow Prey (The Prey Series Book 2) :: How It All Began :: The Puppet Masters :: Succubus: A LitRPG Series :: Dark of the Moon (A Virgil Flowers Novel, Book 1)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tim baldwin
If you like the Lucas Davenport/Virgil Flowers story line you will love this - many twists and turns - you don't want to put it down until you've finished reading it. Excellent if you like crime/mysteries.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
liliana blum
I was hoping for a good read when I picked this book. It was recommended to me. What it has is an addled brained investigator that can't investigate his way out of a paper bag. It takes him and the whole town including personal friends to discover that the son of the master criminal is of hispanic origin and not the white northern Minnesotan stock of the area. What is obvious is that someone in the band is behind the crimes but the addled thinking of our 'hero' continue to mess with your mind. There are good writers who take you along on the process and don't push you around with meaningless issues. Also, I don't see many serious investigators being jumped on by various female types. A woman who allows her husband to go off for unknown periods of time with no accounting for what he's doing is crazy, senile or just plain stupid.

I won't buy more. I've read the reviews and it seems this book is better reviewed that others. I am a crime novel fan and this isn't one. I've read too much Lawrence Block, Lawrence Sanders, Jeffry Archer and other's that make this book a child's project.

I know he and I come from Iowa so, world, I appologize for all Iowans. We usually do better.

ji
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mazinani88
I preordered the book over a month ago, and assumed the cost would be in the usual Kindle price range. Wrong! Kindle is making a big mistake. But that aside, the book was a classic Sanford work. The dialog is masterful. But I'll buy the hardback next time Kindle, and not from the store..
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
robert alexander
After reading the first two of author John Sandford's iconic Virgil Flowers novels, his third, "Rough Country" is not nearly as captivating. I found, "Rough Country" somewhat difficult to get through. It took me several days of short reads to really get into the flow of the story. The plot seemed to slide all over the place without that tease of finding out who killer was going to be. By the end I knew who it was and was glad book wrapped up. In this outing Virgil Flowers of Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been tasked by boss Lucas Davenport to solve the murder of a big time CEO of the advertising world. The "Eagles's Nest" is a women only retreat located in the deep deep woods of northern Minnesota. Catering to mostly but not all gay women, the Eagle's Nest is as pricey as it is secluded. Big shot CEO Erica McDill out one early morning in a canoe is shot in the head dead by a person or persons unknown. Virgil arrives on the scene with the mission of sorting out a vast number of women who had motive and opportunity. Accountant Zoe Tull is certainly in the mix. Also the all women house band provided several suspects. Maddening for Virgil, Margery Stanhope the owner of the Eagle's Nest surely isn't giving Virgil all the information he needs in solving this crime. Virgil seems to hone in on the Ashbach family. Daughter Wendy plays in the band while her father Slibe a man of many specialties may be a possibility as well. Wendy's younger Brother Deuce seems to be a credible suspect too. Deuce is not all there in his head and can live out in those woods like no other. With a huge cast of suspects the plot does get bogged down allowing so many interactions. The supporting characters really don't support much of the plot either. At times this one was a pretty good read. However at over 410 pages was far too long. I'm sure the fourth Virgil Flowers novel will come back a be a much stronger effort. "Rough Country", gets three stars out of a possible five stars. Actual rating should be about a 2.75 star book. This may be one Sandford novel to just skip over.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sharon hinck
Third in the Virgil Flowers subseries and revolving around a roving detective with a penchant for band T-shirts and writing fishing and hunting articles. (This series is an off-shoot from Sandford's Lucas Davenport and doesn't rely upon it.)

My Take
It's an intriguing start as McDill thinks of her scientist dad's explanation on the difference between full moons on the horizon and overhead. It's true enough that you can sell the image easier than you can sell the truth.

I'm thinking that the epithet everyone assigns to Virgil refers to is his clearance rate. Then again…

"'I've been working downtown for ten years and I've never been hit on by a college girl,' Sedlacek said, looking after her. 'What have you got that I don't?'
'Good looks, personality…cowboy boots.'
... Sedlacek said. 'I've been trying to get by on intelligence.'"

Wendy is such a drama queen. She likes stirring everyone up, screwing anybody, and fighting. At least she comes by it naturally, *eye roll*. To be fair, everyone does seem to roll with it.

Wow, I did not like the Sextons, and then to hear what everyone else has to say about them…well, now I know why I didn't like 'em. I did have to laugh at Susan Boehm gettin' all uppity on Virgil. Then her kid deflates the heck out of her, and Virgil stomps out any last bits of hot air, lol.

Virgil sees himself as the "genial observer" — a role which is shot to hell with his two stories being in The New York Times Magazine — and I see him as a stirrer-upper, whispering in one ear after another, stirring the pot to see what bubbles up next. I did miss having Virgil writing this case up the way he did in Dark of the Moon , 1, and Heat Lightning , 2.

Windrow is right. No artist thinks or wants to think they're in a business. All they want to do is create. And make enough money to create some more.

I'm still trying to get a handle on Sandford's Virgil even as I am enjoying these more as I read them. The cases are as unfathomable as Lucas Davenport's, only…Virgil is so much more laidback. And I'm still not getting where all that success with the ladies comes from.

The Story
Eagle's Nest is not likely to fulfill Virgil's usual active social life, as it's mostly become known as a resort for those with Sapphic inclinations.

Which makes things all the more complicated for Virgil, because as he begins investigating, he finds a web of connections between the people at the resort, the victim, and some local women, notably a talented country singer, and the more he digs, the move he discovers the arrows of suspicion that point in many directions, encompassing a multitude of motivations: jealousy, blackmail, greed, anger, fear. Nor is this the first murder., that there was a second, seemingly unrelated one, the year before. And that there's about to be a third, definitely related one, any time now. And as for the fourth... well, Virgil better hope he can catch the killer before that happens.

The Characters
The surfer-lookin' Detective Virgil Flowers with a preference for indie bands gets assigned the tough ones and in between he fishes and writes articles. After events in Heat Lightning , 2, Virgil is moving into the big time with that two-story article in The New York Times Magazine. Johnson Johnson is his fishin' buddy who runs a sawmill.

Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is…
…the state cops. Lucas Davenport runs one department within it and is Virgil's boss. Ron Mapes leads the initial crime scene crew along with Lane; Herb Huntington is Mapes' assistant. Stacey Lowe leads the crew in the Cities. Jenkins and Shrake are the resident thugs. Sandy is a part-time researcher at BCA. Doug Wayne is the highway patrol pilot. Sebriski is a highway patrolman delivering a rifle.

Stone Lake in Itasca County is…
…where the Eagle Nest Lodge is located. Margery Stanhope owns the lodge. Iris Garner is Margery's daughter; Earl is Iris' husband. George Rainy is a guide. Dorothy Killian is the guest who's leaving. Jared Boehm is a dock assistant, and one of the many "pretty boys" supplementing his income. Susan Boehm is his attorney mother about to find out why parents don't represent their kids. Rusty Jones was the campus guide in Duluth.

Zoe Tull is Margery's gay accountant and a potential buyer; Mary may become a partner. Mabel Knox works for Zoe. Signy is Zoe's sister and owns a quilt store in Grand Rapids; Joe is Sig's runaway husband.

Janelle Washington works in a candy store (Dan owns it) and rides a bicycle to work; her husband, James, is a greenskeeper. Tom Morris is a friend of theirs, and Janelle's luckiest chance; Patsy is his wife. Barbara Carson is an elderly widow with an interest in heirloom roses. Jim Young is the local newspaper guy. Earl is a river rat.

Erica McDill runs an advertising agency, Ruff-Harcourt-McDill, in Minneapolis and has plans for the future. Ruth Davies is her significant other who's on the way out. Oren McDill is Erica's dad. State Senator Marsha Williams is a friend of Oren's. Barney Mann is the much-loved creative director. Lawrence Harcourt has retired and was planning to sell out to McDill. Abby Sexton had an affair with McDill; she and her husband, Mark (works at RHM), have an open and easy relationship. Sandra Oduchenko is the Sextons' babysitter. Ronald Owen and John Yao are ad agency employees with the potential to lose their jobs. Jean Owen is Ron's wife and really hated Erica.

The Wild Goose is the bar where the ladies like to hang and where the band plays. Tom Mortensen is the owner; Chuck and Kara Larsen are the bartenders.

Slibe Ashbach is Wendy's dad, and he raises English Crème Golden Retrievers on the side when he's not doing grading or septic. Slibe II, a.k.a., Deuce or Junior, is Wendy's brother. Maria Osterhus is the wife who ran away with Hector Avila, a civil engineer.

Wendy Ashbach is the band's country singer; Berni "Raven" Kelly is the not-so-great drummer and Wendy's girlfriend; the belligerent Cathy "Cat" Mathis is on keyboards; Bertha "Bert" Carr is the violinist; Cynthia "Sin" Sawyer is lead guitar; and, Gerry O'Meara plays bass. The Schoolhouse is a recording studio. Corky Saarinen is the manager who had been looking forward to working with McDill. Mark is a sound engineer.

Itasca County Law
Bob Sanders is the sheriff; his father, Ken, was the sheriff before him. Don, Roy Service, Ben and Dan (big beefy boys), Frank Harris, and Carl are deputies. John Phillips is the county attorney. District Court Judge Don Hope thinks "Wendy is a buxom lass". Hank Underwood is the Cessna pilot in Itasca. Dick Raab is a defense attorney.

Little Linda Pelli is a lost fifteen-year-old who has all of Bemidji looking for her. Ruffe Ignace is a reporter with the recently bankrupt Minneapolis Star Tribune. Debbie is a witness really annoyed with the very noisy couple next door.

Iowa City is…
…where Constance Lifry, another regular gay guest at the Eagle Nest owned a restaurant, Honey's. She was good friends with Jud Windrow who owns the Spodee-Odee in Iowa City. O'Hara is a freelance drummer. Irma Windrow is the bookkeeper and Jud's ex-wife. Prudence Bauer is Connie's sister.

Will Sedlacek is the chief deputy for Johnson County while Larry Rudolph is another deputy. The sheriff, Jerry, was good friends with Constance.

Roy is the tournament chairman at Vermilion Lake.

The Cover and Title
The cover is dark with a hazy suggestion of a man, quiet and alone in the woods. The author's name is large and in yellow at the top of the cover while the title is about half that size and dim compared to the author's flash.

Yep, it's Rough Country for Virgil on several counts. He's used to getting easy with the ladies, but this case involves gay ladies, and I don't mean happy.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
siddhesh ambhire
This was one of the WORST books I have read, nothing but horribly filthy language. I speaks volumns of the lack of vocabulary by the writer.

I will NEVER buy another Sanford book. This book does NOT deserve a one star but you would not let me submit without it
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
heather walker
Detective Virgil Flowers has been called to the lake country of Minnesota. Unfortunately, it's not to indulge in his love, fishing, but to investigate a murder. One of the fancier resorts in the area has reported a guest missing who went out in a kayak the evening before to watch the eagles and never returned. She is found shot and killed and the case is beyond the resources of the local police.

Virgil starts his investigation and finds lots of suspects. The resort is a female only one, and it turns out that it has a reputation for being a gathering place for lesbians. Is the victim's sexuality the driving force behind the hate that killed her? Or was it her plan to buy the resort herself as a retreat from running a competitive marketing agency? Was it her interest in a local country band with a singer who is ready to do anything to make it big?

Suspects are plentiful. The victim had a relationship with the singer, Wendy, and that didn't set well with Wendy's current lover. There was a former lover of Wendy's who also had her eye on the resort as an investment opportunity. There were employees of the marketing firm who knew that the owner was planning a massive layoff and that some of them would lose a job that would be hard to replace. Then there is the singer's family. They have a local reputation. The mother ran off years ago with a lover, leaving her husband and children behind. The father raised the children and is very protective of them. Plans to help his daughter leave the country behind for a show business career don't set well with him. Can Virgil sort through all the suspects and find the killer before more people are targeted?

This is the third Virgil Flowers mystery Sandford has written. Readers who love his Lucas Davenport mysteries will also enjoy Flowers. He is not as intense and driven as Davenport, who is his boss. Instead this former preacher's kid is charming and open and always ready for a romantic encounter. This book is recommended for mystery lovers.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
manish
I have read the first 2 books in the series and this one continues the trend of providing mysteries in and around Minnesota. I like the character of Virgil Flowers and appreciate how the author has created his laid back but ultimately effective detecting approach. The novel had a good storyline and I liked the supporting characters. One of the elements I like about the books is that there is an element of humor throughout and although Virgil takes his work seriously he approaches his personal situation in a less regimented manner. The narrator is excellent and he added to my enjoyment of the story. I recommend this book, the mystery is good and the story is entertaining.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
naimisha pasupuleti
A small resort town in northern Minnesota gets a shock when one of its guests, Erica McDill, is shot in the head during a kayaking outing. McDill is a prominent advertising executive, from the Twin Cities, whose death precedes a large transition in her company that would make her the largest stockholder.

Virgil Flowers is fishing with a friend when he receives a call from his boss, Lucas Davenport. With that, his vacation comes to an end and he makes his way to the scene of McDill's murder. You see, Virgil is an investigator for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) who only tackles "the hard stuff". He doesn't fit the investigator stereotypes. Rather, he keeps his blond hair long, wears t-shirts with logos of obscure bands, and finishes off the ensemble with blue jeans and boots. Despite his unusual appearance, Virgil is known for getting results.

The investigation takes an unusual turn when Virgil learns that the resort is an all women's establishment. His fears are confirmed when boot tracks, from an expensive women's shoe company, are discovered in the mud near the murder site. Quickly, Virgil is immersed into the small town and its lesbian subculture. With the possibility of past murders connecting to the death of McDill, and the ever growing threat of more violence, Virgil struggles to keep his own emotions in check as he searches for the mysterious killer.

I've been a fan of John Sandford's Virgil Flowers series since reading the first book, Dark of The Moon. There is something very appealing about Virgil's oddball behavior and fantastic instincts. As always, Sandford keeps his writing simple and accessible. More so than the previous novels, however, Rough Country felt a little slower and less important than the other two. The opening portion in particular seemed a bit overlong. How long can you really wander through the woods before losing your audience. Fortunately, just as I was wondering when the book would pick up, Sandford introduced a new thread to the mystery that propelled the novel to a solid ending. The plot of this story doesn't allow as much time to spend learning about this interesting character, but the mystery itself is strong enough to make Rough Country worth the read and to make me eager to continue this series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
gabriel jaraba
I enjoy books by John Sanford and when all is said and done I like the works featuring Davenport a bit better than Virgil Flowers. That being said though, I must admit that Flowers does grow on you after you have read a few of the stories featuring him. This one was not exception. Flowers is, for the most part, just the opposite of Davenport...hey, Flowers does not even like to carry a gun! He does like the women though and women do seem to like him which makes this particular work sort of fascinating.

The story centers around a resort where a lady is shot (sniper kill) while out kayaking alone. Flowers is fishing with his buddy in the area and is called in on the case. It quickly becomes obvious that the resort where the murder takes place caters to gay (lesbian) clientele. What is a guy like Virgil suppose to do with all these women who are on the same team he is on?

For a Sanford work this one is pretty mellow. I cannot classify it as a mystery as it is pretty obvious from the start who did the deed - particularly when other dead bodies start showing up. That is okay though...mystery is not the reason I read these books.

The plot does take a lot of nice twists and the ending is very decent...justice is served. I rather like the way the author (authors in this case) are developing Virgil's character and the other characters in the book are most certainly brought to life.

Again, I do like the Prey series better but for a nice mellow read while setting with the dogs on my lap, this one was hard to beat.

This was a library find so I had no price issues what so every...wow, I do love my library!

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
margo candela
Sandford is churning out too many books and they are selling based on his past reputation. I tossed this book after reading about a fifth of it. I think he is spending his days fishing while someone else is writing his drivel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rabab elshazly
John Sandford's Rough Country is the third Virgil Flowers novel and the best yet, and it is even better than many of the recent Lucas Davenport Novels. The pace is quick from the beginning, and full of Sandford's humor and wit, as displayed by the three-time divorced gun hating, women and fishing loving BCA detective Virgil Flowers.

I think Flowers is so interesting because he's new. Sandford's iconic character Lucas Davenport has been around awhile and his direction in life is pretty much set. Flowers is what Davenport used to be. Young and free, but without the temper.

The plot is also different. A woman named McDill is murdered while kayaking at a lodge in the woods of Minnesota. Flowers is called into investigate because the victim had some political clout. He quickly discovers this lodge isn't like most others. It caters to mostly women, and women who prefer the company of women. Flowers is first flustered by the number of female suspects. But he soon narrows in on a few characters, including Wendy Ashback, a wannabe country singer, and Zoe, the accountant who hopes to buy the lodge someday. There are many more suspects and there is a lot of money, jealousy, and secrets to be unvieled.

My complaints would be in the handling of the points of view. Sandford writes mostly from Flowers' point of view, but switches to the killer on occasion. This usually works, but I thought perhaps the killer was revealled too early in this one. Also, the whole "whodunnit" and the reasons why, and the way in which Flowers figures everything out, wasn't one of Sandford's best. But the journey to get there was great.

I haven't read a bad John Sandford novel yet. He's been one of my favorite authors since I began reading him. This is a great book and a must read. Even with the acknowledgement of a co-author, this is 100% John Sandford.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
karolyn
After only this book by John Standford, I am a huge Virgil Flowers fan. He is this kind of hip, young, rock-band-t-shirt wearing Minnesota cop (Minnesota/hip?) investigating a murder at a Minnesota lesbian resort (Minnesota/lesbian?) that keeps us up all night turning each of the 417 pages. The complexity of character relationships, the novel's action-packed plot resolution and the rapid fire anti-climaxes that follow are masterful.

But why? For one, everything is outside the envelope. Nothing is predictable. For another, the author knows police procedure, the music business and even what you'd grab to eat in a local diner. And none of this is done in a prepossessing way:
"Virgil went back to his lonely motel room thought about Signy, lying unfulfilled in a lonesome bedstead in her rural cracker box, and himself, lying unfulfilled in his concrete-block motel, and about God, and how God was probably laughing his ass off."

The language is direct, yet hauntingly beautiful as a "lonely spark of fire in the middle of a swamp, twisted but believing itself safely wrapped in nature, with no idea of what was coming in the morning." The real puzzle is not just about who the murder is but how he could be convicted if someone else is hauled in for the crime first--"If you're sure X is guilty, why'd you arrest Y two days before?"

There are a lot of dark country roads out there and reading this novel I feel I've just been down one and come out safely on the other side.
'
John Lehman, Rosebud Book Reviews
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
haze werner
I have read John Sandford's Lucas Davenport books for many years and think that the series is one of the best ones out there.

I tried the first Virgil Flowers book years ago and didn't finish it, just didn't like it at all. Looking back on it, I think I was missing Davenport and didn't want a new main character, even if John Sandford was the author.

I saw Rough Country at a book exchange and decided that I would give Flowers another go. I was very pleasantly surprised and actually enjoyed the book a lot.

The novel centres around the murder of a woman at a resort. Virgil is sent into investigate and finds a number of strange issues going on which create an interesting mystery. A combination of unrequited love, prostitution, country music and the wilderness adds to the storyline. The twists and turns in the novel do make the story pass well along with the trademark Sandford humour.

I must admit that there were a fairly large cast of characters and it took some memory to keep who was who in my head but I enjoyed the story and Flowers as a character.

Davenport is still the man but Flowers is a worthy fill-in.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
pam jones
I agree with several other reviewers who find Virgil Flowers to be pretty darn sexy. Long hair, t-shirts. He leaves the gun in the truck. He's witty. Smart. Independent. Oh, wait. This is a BOOK review, not a CHARACTER review.

This was my first Virgil Flowers book though not my first John Sandford book. I've enjoyed Sandford for years and was pleased to find this new character, Virgil, who is sexy, smart, clever, kind, has long hair - here I go again. Virgil is the detective on the scene of a shooting with multiple suspects. He methodically works his way through to the solution, despite some red herrings (red muskie?) and along the way finds himself attracted to two sisters, one of whom is gay and the other married. The ending was clever though I suspected it and the killer was also pretty easy to figure out. Maybe it's true that it's Sandford's son writing these now. Does seem to lack a little sharpness when compared to the earlier Prey series books. Sort of like Clive Clusser's son taking over his writing.

As thrillers go this isn't a John Connelly or Harlan Cobain or Gregg Hurwitz, but it's an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. I have just added the first Virgil Flowers books to my cart so will be able to spend a little more time with Virgil (though I really don't like his name. Couldn't it have been one just a little more contemporary?) soon.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
maida
The author is a skilled writer and the novel has its moments. There is a little bit of everything. There are some gruesome murder descriptions, and there are some funny moments where you don't wnat to be drinking coffee (you might snort it out your nose). The overall plot is a a complexity of relationships. Virgil Flowers just wanted to fish in a muskie tournament, but he is called away from that (you might recall that he tows around a boat on the off chance he might get to sneak away and do some fishing. And then he thinks he might have a chance to score with a new woman in his life, but he keeps getting interrupted.

And then you have the relationships of the suspects. There are straights, gays, switch hitters, and a few boy toys, aka, gigolos who are trying to earn a few bucks to pay university expenses - some people have creattve ways to work their way through college by offerring a few added services on the side when they work at a summer resort (it reminds me of some beach boys I have seen at various locations). There are some jealous lovers - I have seen cat fights in a bar when a woman was stepping out with someone else's boyfriend, so I guess the same thing would happen if a woman was stepping out with another woman's girlfriend.

There are several murders, and another shooting that may not be random. The possible motives and suspects are many and Virgil has to figure out what ties them all together. One major plot device seems borrowed from another author (see Sue Grafton's "S is for Silence"), but the story has its own unique locations and complexities. It tends to be a page turner that is hard to put aside.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mguido
Remarkable skill is required to endow a principle character in a murder mystery novel with opposite characteristics in an entertaining and realistic way. John Sandford does it in his Virgil Flowers novels.

Virgil is no virgin, and while he loves flowers, hates violence and dislikes guns, he is no flower child, not entirely. He is both a laid back vacation loving fisherman but, when necessary, and then only when necessary and reluctantly, a dedicated non-let up cop who works long hours with little sleep. He listens to popular music, but has common-sense and a deep under-the surface intelligence; he writes perceptive articles for the New York Times.

He is fascinated with sex and women are fascinated with him - both in the novels and in the real world of the novels' readers. But despite his desires, he works to find the solution to crimes before sex, of course. Is this foreplay and do women see it as such? Yet, he thinks about God before he falls asleep.

He moves about with an air of ironic humor, which he doesn't seem to notice. Sometimes people around him feel the humor but cannot pinpoint it or express what they feel or see; they also note or at least sense the possible violence in the man, and seem puzzled by the cop who looks like a handsome nonchalant long-haired surfer. Is he the man who massacred the Vietnamese? they ask.

He is serious at work and respected by professionals, including his boss who hired him to solve difficult cases, yet he wears punky t-shirts that clearly shout out that he does not give a damn. The book has a youthful playful carefree humorous aura about it with a mature and serious patina of social concerns and obligations.

It is, in short delightful to read how Virgil acts and reacts and how he solves cases by insightful interrogations and dogged determination. There is all of this and a well-written non-letup engrossing tale.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer li
Another fun read, Rough Country continues with our hero, Virgil Flowers as he tries to bury himself in a Muskie tournament and instead is dragged into a murder mystery involving a country western singer.
Using a few less “Huh’s” than the last one I read, this story was still full of plenty of plot twists, humor and great writing. I’ve found that this series is the most fun I’ve had with any of Sandford’s work. Flowers is a real character and the writing focuses on him in solid third-person, with little head-hopping. The narrative is brisk, the scenes short, and reading it is a pure pleasure.
I hope he does a lot more of them. I still have a few to fill in the blanks and just picked up another one the other day.
Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
shirley
ROUGH COUNTRY, John Sandford's latest work, proves that his skills show no signs of dulling. This is the third installment in the Virgil Flowers series, a spinoff of his Lucas Davenport books, of which he has written a shelf full.

For the uninitiated, Virgil Flowers is an investigator with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is headed up by the aforementioned Lucas Davenport. Davenport is Flowers's boss, though in ROUGH COUNTRY (and the other Flowers books), his presence is basically limited to a voice over the phone (and very intermittently at that). This helps to keep Davenport from overshadowing Flowers and also allows Flowers to develop as his own character. The reader sees that he is a bit more of an everyman than Davenport; unlike Davenport, he does not have more money than God, is not married (though he is most definitely a player), and has a bit more sass to him, which is played up quite well here. Also, Flowers's methods of investigation are unorthodox (though not exceedingly so); his style may cause one's eyebrows to go up, but no one is in total shock over his behavior...for the most part, anyway.

One of Sandford's major strengths is his ability to create characters who think and act like real law enforcement personnel. This helps the reader to be totally engrossed in the story, which is set in a majestic but remote area of northern Minnesota. As ROUGH COUNTRY opens, Flowers is competing in a fishing tournament when he gets a call from Davenport that yanks him back on duty. A woman has been shot and killed while kayaking at Eagles Nest Lodge in Grand Rapids, a women-only resort where the guests can relax, unwind, recuperate, and, as it turns out, engage in some other activities that aren't exactly spelled out in the brochure.

Flowers initially isn't wild about the assignment, but since everyone else is busy hunting a missing teenager known as "Little Linda," he becomes the go-to guy. As he gradually warms to the task, Flowers discovers that there is a web of connections among the victim, the resort employees, a local bar, and a female country singer with dreams of hitting the big time. And for various reasons, everyone seems to be hiding something. What don't they want Flowers to find out? And what does it all have to do with this woman's murder?

Sandford has Flowers doing what he does best --- kicking things up and turning things over until he gets to the heart of the matter. It is only when the killer attempts to claim another victim, however, that Flowers is inadvertently provided with the clue that he needs to crack the case and bring the murderer to justice while solving (intentionally or otherwise) another case or three in the process.

The characters in ROUGH COUNTRY --- the ones who wander on and off the page and the ones who hang in there for chapter after chapter --- are sharply drawn and memorable, and the plot is equally entertaining and compelling. Ultimately, there is one heck of a mystery to unravel here, and Sandford, veteran that he is, does a magnificent job of laying it out. The reader, by the midway point, will be a step or two ahead of Flowers, until the end when Flowers sprints ahead. You won't mind, though. And you'll be laughing here and there along the way as well.

--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
glorilyn lee
I preordered the book over a month ago, and assumed the cost would be in the usual Kindle price range. Wrong! Kindle is making a big mistake. But that aside, the book was a classic Sanford work. The dialog is masterful. But I'll buy the hardback next time Kindle, and not from the store..
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
misbah waghoo
After reading the first two of author John Sandford's iconic Virgil Flowers novels, his third, "Rough Country" is not nearly as captivating. I found, "Rough Country" somewhat difficult to get through. It took me several days of short reads to really get into the flow of the story. The plot seemed to slide all over the place without that tease of finding out who killer was going to be. By the end I knew who it was and was glad book wrapped up. In this outing Virgil Flowers of Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been tasked by boss Lucas Davenport to solve the murder of a big time CEO of the advertising world. The "Eagles's Nest" is a women only retreat located in the deep deep woods of northern Minnesota. Catering to mostly but not all gay women, the Eagle's Nest is as pricey as it is secluded. Big shot CEO Erica McDill out one early morning in a canoe is shot in the head dead by a person or persons unknown. Virgil arrives on the scene with the mission of sorting out a vast number of women who had motive and opportunity. Accountant Zoe Tull is certainly in the mix. Also the all women house band provided several suspects. Maddening for Virgil, Margery Stanhope the owner of the Eagle's Nest surely isn't giving Virgil all the information he needs in solving this crime. Virgil seems to hone in on the Ashbach family. Daughter Wendy plays in the band while her father Slibe a man of many specialties may be a possibility as well. Wendy's younger Brother Deuce seems to be a credible suspect too. Deuce is not all there in his head and can live out in those woods like no other. With a huge cast of suspects the plot does get bogged down allowing so many interactions. The supporting characters really don't support much of the plot either. At times this one was a pretty good read. However at over 410 pages was far too long. I'm sure the fourth Virgil Flowers novel will come back a be a much stronger effort. "Rough Country", gets three stars out of a possible five stars. Actual rating should be about a 2.75 star book. This may be one Sandford novel to just skip over.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nurul akmal
Third in the Virgil Flowers subseries and revolving around a roving detective with a penchant for band T-shirts and writing fishing and hunting articles. (This series is an off-shoot from Sandford's Lucas Davenport and doesn't rely upon it.)

My Take
It's an intriguing start as McDill thinks of her scientist dad's explanation on the difference between full moons on the horizon and overhead. It's true enough that you can sell the image easier than you can sell the truth.

I'm thinking that the epithet everyone assigns to Virgil refers to is his clearance rate. Then again…

"'I've been working downtown for ten years and I've never been hit on by a college girl,' Sedlacek said, looking after her. 'What have you got that I don't?'
'Good looks, personality…cowboy boots.'
... Sedlacek said. 'I've been trying to get by on intelligence.'"

Wendy is such a drama queen. She likes stirring everyone up, screwing anybody, and fighting. At least she comes by it naturally, *eye roll*. To be fair, everyone does seem to roll with it.

Wow, I did not like the Sextons, and then to hear what everyone else has to say about them…well, now I know why I didn't like 'em. I did have to laugh at Susan Boehm gettin' all uppity on Virgil. Then her kid deflates the heck out of her, and Virgil stomps out any last bits of hot air, lol.

Virgil sees himself as the "genial observer" — a role which is shot to hell with his two stories being in The New York Times Magazine — and I see him as a stirrer-upper, whispering in one ear after another, stirring the pot to see what bubbles up next. I did miss having Virgil writing this case up the way he did in Dark of the Moon , 1, and Heat Lightning , 2.

Windrow is right. No artist thinks or wants to think they're in a business. All they want to do is create. And make enough money to create some more.

I'm still trying to get a handle on Sandford's Virgil even as I am enjoying these more as I read them. The cases are as unfathomable as Lucas Davenport's, only…Virgil is so much more laidback. And I'm still not getting where all that success with the ladies comes from.

The Story
Eagle's Nest is not likely to fulfill Virgil's usual active social life, as it's mostly become known as a resort for those with Sapphic inclinations.

Which makes things all the more complicated for Virgil, because as he begins investigating, he finds a web of connections between the people at the resort, the victim, and some local women, notably a talented country singer, and the more he digs, the move he discovers the arrows of suspicion that point in many directions, encompassing a multitude of motivations: jealousy, blackmail, greed, anger, fear. Nor is this the first murder., that there was a second, seemingly unrelated one, the year before. And that there's about to be a third, definitely related one, any time now. And as for the fourth... well, Virgil better hope he can catch the killer before that happens.

The Characters
The surfer-lookin' Detective Virgil Flowers with a preference for indie bands gets assigned the tough ones and in between he fishes and writes articles. After events in Heat Lightning , 2, Virgil is moving into the big time with that two-story article in The New York Times Magazine. Johnson Johnson is his fishin' buddy who runs a sawmill.

Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is…
…the state cops. Lucas Davenport runs one department within it and is Virgil's boss. Ron Mapes leads the initial crime scene crew along with Lane; Herb Huntington is Mapes' assistant. Stacey Lowe leads the crew in the Cities. Jenkins and Shrake are the resident thugs. Sandy is a part-time researcher at BCA. Doug Wayne is the highway patrol pilot. Sebriski is a highway patrolman delivering a rifle.

Stone Lake in Itasca County is…
…where the Eagle Nest Lodge is located. Margery Stanhope owns the lodge. Iris Garner is Margery's daughter; Earl is Iris' husband. George Rainy is a guide. Dorothy Killian is the guest who's leaving. Jared Boehm is a dock assistant, and one of the many "pretty boys" supplementing his income. Susan Boehm is his attorney mother about to find out why parents don't represent their kids. Rusty Jones was the campus guide in Duluth.

Zoe Tull is Margery's gay accountant and a potential buyer; Mary may become a partner. Mabel Knox works for Zoe. Signy is Zoe's sister and owns a quilt store in Grand Rapids; Joe is Sig's runaway husband.

Janelle Washington works in a candy store (Dan owns it) and rides a bicycle to work; her husband, James, is a greenskeeper. Tom Morris is a friend of theirs, and Janelle's luckiest chance; Patsy is his wife. Barbara Carson is an elderly widow with an interest in heirloom roses. Jim Young is the local newspaper guy. Earl is a river rat.

Erica McDill runs an advertising agency, Ruff-Harcourt-McDill, in Minneapolis and has plans for the future. Ruth Davies is her significant other who's on the way out. Oren McDill is Erica's dad. State Senator Marsha Williams is a friend of Oren's. Barney Mann is the much-loved creative director. Lawrence Harcourt has retired and was planning to sell out to McDill. Abby Sexton had an affair with McDill; she and her husband, Mark (works at RHM), have an open and easy relationship. Sandra Oduchenko is the Sextons' babysitter. Ronald Owen and John Yao are ad agency employees with the potential to lose their jobs. Jean Owen is Ron's wife and really hated Erica.

The Wild Goose is the bar where the ladies like to hang and where the band plays. Tom Mortensen is the owner; Chuck and Kara Larsen are the bartenders.

Slibe Ashbach is Wendy's dad, and he raises English Crème Golden Retrievers on the side when he's not doing grading or septic. Slibe II, a.k.a., Deuce or Junior, is Wendy's brother. Maria Osterhus is the wife who ran away with Hector Avila, a civil engineer.

Wendy Ashbach is the band's country singer; Berni "Raven" Kelly is the not-so-great drummer and Wendy's girlfriend; the belligerent Cathy "Cat" Mathis is on keyboards; Bertha "Bert" Carr is the violinist; Cynthia "Sin" Sawyer is lead guitar; and, Gerry O'Meara plays bass. The Schoolhouse is a recording studio. Corky Saarinen is the manager who had been looking forward to working with McDill. Mark is a sound engineer.

Itasca County Law
Bob Sanders is the sheriff; his father, Ken, was the sheriff before him. Don, Roy Service, Ben and Dan (big beefy boys), Frank Harris, and Carl are deputies. John Phillips is the county attorney. District Court Judge Don Hope thinks "Wendy is a buxom lass". Hank Underwood is the Cessna pilot in Itasca. Dick Raab is a defense attorney.

Little Linda Pelli is a lost fifteen-year-old who has all of Bemidji looking for her. Ruffe Ignace is a reporter with the recently bankrupt Minneapolis Star Tribune. Debbie is a witness really annoyed with the very noisy couple next door.

Iowa City is…
…where Constance Lifry, another regular gay guest at the Eagle Nest owned a restaurant, Honey's. She was good friends with Jud Windrow who owns the Spodee-Odee in Iowa City. O'Hara is a freelance drummer. Irma Windrow is the bookkeeper and Jud's ex-wife. Prudence Bauer is Connie's sister.

Will Sedlacek is the chief deputy for Johnson County while Larry Rudolph is another deputy. The sheriff, Jerry, was good friends with Constance.

Roy is the tournament chairman at Vermilion Lake.

The Cover and Title
The cover is dark with a hazy suggestion of a man, quiet and alone in the woods. The author's name is large and in yellow at the top of the cover while the title is about half that size and dim compared to the author's flash.

Yep, it's Rough Country for Virgil on several counts. He's used to getting easy with the ladies, but this case involves gay ladies, and I don't mean happy.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
kaila bryant
This was one of the WORST books I have read, nothing but horribly filthy language. I speaks volumns of the lack of vocabulary by the writer.

I will NEVER buy another Sanford book. This book does NOT deserve a one star but you would not let me submit without it
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
natalie rasell
Detective Virgil Flowers has been called to the lake country of Minnesota. Unfortunately, it's not to indulge in his love, fishing, but to investigate a murder. One of the fancier resorts in the area has reported a guest missing who went out in a kayak the evening before to watch the eagles and never returned. She is found shot and killed and the case is beyond the resources of the local police.

Virgil starts his investigation and finds lots of suspects. The resort is a female only one, and it turns out that it has a reputation for being a gathering place for lesbians. Is the victim's sexuality the driving force behind the hate that killed her? Or was it her plan to buy the resort herself as a retreat from running a competitive marketing agency? Was it her interest in a local country band with a singer who is ready to do anything to make it big?

Suspects are plentiful. The victim had a relationship with the singer, Wendy, and that didn't set well with Wendy's current lover. There was a former lover of Wendy's who also had her eye on the resort as an investment opportunity. There were employees of the marketing firm who knew that the owner was planning a massive layoff and that some of them would lose a job that would be hard to replace. Then there is the singer's family. They have a local reputation. The mother ran off years ago with a lover, leaving her husband and children behind. The father raised the children and is very protective of them. Plans to help his daughter leave the country behind for a show business career don't set well with him. Can Virgil sort through all the suspects and find the killer before more people are targeted?

This is the third Virgil Flowers mystery Sandford has written. Readers who love his Lucas Davenport mysteries will also enjoy Flowers. He is not as intense and driven as Davenport, who is his boss. Instead this former preacher's kid is charming and open and always ready for a romantic encounter. This book is recommended for mystery lovers.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
behemothing
I have read the first 2 books in the series and this one continues the trend of providing mysteries in and around Minnesota. I like the character of Virgil Flowers and appreciate how the author has created his laid back but ultimately effective detecting approach. The novel had a good storyline and I liked the supporting characters. One of the elements I like about the books is that there is an element of humor throughout and although Virgil takes his work seriously he approaches his personal situation in a less regimented manner. The narrator is excellent and he added to my enjoyment of the story. I recommend this book, the mystery is good and the story is entertaining.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
t mark
A small resort town in northern Minnesota gets a shock when one of its guests, Erica McDill, is shot in the head during a kayaking outing. McDill is a prominent advertising executive, from the Twin Cities, whose death precedes a large transition in her company that would make her the largest stockholder.

Virgil Flowers is fishing with a friend when he receives a call from his boss, Lucas Davenport. With that, his vacation comes to an end and he makes his way to the scene of McDill's murder. You see, Virgil is an investigator for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) who only tackles "the hard stuff". He doesn't fit the investigator stereotypes. Rather, he keeps his blond hair long, wears t-shirts with logos of obscure bands, and finishes off the ensemble with blue jeans and boots. Despite his unusual appearance, Virgil is known for getting results.

The investigation takes an unusual turn when Virgil learns that the resort is an all women's establishment. His fears are confirmed when boot tracks, from an expensive women's shoe company, are discovered in the mud near the murder site. Quickly, Virgil is immersed into the small town and its lesbian subculture. With the possibility of past murders connecting to the death of McDill, and the ever growing threat of more violence, Virgil struggles to keep his own emotions in check as he searches for the mysterious killer.

I've been a fan of John Sandford's Virgil Flowers series since reading the first book, Dark of The Moon. There is something very appealing about Virgil's oddball behavior and fantastic instincts. As always, Sandford keeps his writing simple and accessible. More so than the previous novels, however, Rough Country felt a little slower and less important than the other two. The opening portion in particular seemed a bit overlong. How long can you really wander through the woods before losing your audience. Fortunately, just as I was wondering when the book would pick up, Sandford introduced a new thread to the mystery that propelled the novel to a solid ending. The plot of this story doesn't allow as much time to spend learning about this interesting character, but the mystery itself is strong enough to make Rough Country worth the read and to make me eager to continue this series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kelly jarosinski
I enjoy books by John Sanford and when all is said and done I like the works featuring Davenport a bit better than Virgil Flowers. That being said though, I must admit that Flowers does grow on you after you have read a few of the stories featuring him. This one was not exception. Flowers is, for the most part, just the opposite of Davenport...hey, Flowers does not even like to carry a gun! He does like the women though and women do seem to like him which makes this particular work sort of fascinating.

The story centers around a resort where a lady is shot (sniper kill) while out kayaking alone. Flowers is fishing with his buddy in the area and is called in on the case. It quickly becomes obvious that the resort where the murder takes place caters to gay (lesbian) clientele. What is a guy like Virgil suppose to do with all these women who are on the same team he is on?

For a Sanford work this one is pretty mellow. I cannot classify it as a mystery as it is pretty obvious from the start who did the deed - particularly when other dead bodies start showing up. That is okay though...mystery is not the reason I read these books.

The plot does take a lot of nice twists and the ending is very decent...justice is served. I rather like the way the author (authors in this case) are developing Virgil's character and the other characters in the book are most certainly brought to life.

Again, I do like the Prey series better but for a nice mellow read while setting with the dogs on my lap, this one was hard to beat.

This was a library find so I had no price issues what so every...wow, I do love my library!

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
gertie
Sandford is churning out too many books and they are selling based on his past reputation. I tossed this book after reading about a fifth of it. I think he is spending his days fishing while someone else is writing his drivel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ryan fossey
John Sandford's Rough Country is the third Virgil Flowers novel and the best yet, and it is even better than many of the recent Lucas Davenport Novels. The pace is quick from the beginning, and full of Sandford's humor and wit, as displayed by the three-time divorced gun hating, women and fishing loving BCA detective Virgil Flowers.

I think Flowers is so interesting because he's new. Sandford's iconic character Lucas Davenport has been around awhile and his direction in life is pretty much set. Flowers is what Davenport used to be. Young and free, but without the temper.

The plot is also different. A woman named McDill is murdered while kayaking at a lodge in the woods of Minnesota. Flowers is called into investigate because the victim had some political clout. He quickly discovers this lodge isn't like most others. It caters to mostly women, and women who prefer the company of women. Flowers is first flustered by the number of female suspects. But he soon narrows in on a few characters, including Wendy Ashback, a wannabe country singer, and Zoe, the accountant who hopes to buy the lodge someday. There are many more suspects and there is a lot of money, jealousy, and secrets to be unvieled.

My complaints would be in the handling of the points of view. Sandford writes mostly from Flowers' point of view, but switches to the killer on occasion. This usually works, but I thought perhaps the killer was revealled too early in this one. Also, the whole "whodunnit" and the reasons why, and the way in which Flowers figures everything out, wasn't one of Sandford's best. But the journey to get there was great.

I haven't read a bad John Sandford novel yet. He's been one of my favorite authors since I began reading him. This is a great book and a must read. Even with the acknowledgement of a co-author, this is 100% John Sandford.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lauren fruchter
After only this book by John Standford, I am a huge Virgil Flowers fan. He is this kind of hip, young, rock-band-t-shirt wearing Minnesota cop (Minnesota/hip?) investigating a murder at a Minnesota lesbian resort (Minnesota/lesbian?) that keeps us up all night turning each of the 417 pages. The complexity of character relationships, the novel's action-packed plot resolution and the rapid fire anti-climaxes that follow are masterful.

But why? For one, everything is outside the envelope. Nothing is predictable. For another, the author knows police procedure, the music business and even what you'd grab to eat in a local diner. And none of this is done in a prepossessing way:
"Virgil went back to his lonely motel room thought about Signy, lying unfulfilled in a lonesome bedstead in her rural cracker box, and himself, lying unfulfilled in his concrete-block motel, and about God, and how God was probably laughing his ass off."

The language is direct, yet hauntingly beautiful as a "lonely spark of fire in the middle of a swamp, twisted but believing itself safely wrapped in nature, with no idea of what was coming in the morning." The real puzzle is not just about who the murder is but how he could be convicted if someone else is hauled in for the crime first--"If you're sure X is guilty, why'd you arrest Y two days before?"

There are a lot of dark country roads out there and reading this novel I feel I've just been down one and come out safely on the other side.
'
John Lehman, Rosebud Book Reviews
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
elzette
I have read John Sandford's Lucas Davenport books for many years and think that the series is one of the best ones out there.

I tried the first Virgil Flowers book years ago and didn't finish it, just didn't like it at all. Looking back on it, I think I was missing Davenport and didn't want a new main character, even if John Sandford was the author.

I saw Rough Country at a book exchange and decided that I would give Flowers another go. I was very pleasantly surprised and actually enjoyed the book a lot.

The novel centres around the murder of a woman at a resort. Virgil is sent into investigate and finds a number of strange issues going on which create an interesting mystery. A combination of unrequited love, prostitution, country music and the wilderness adds to the storyline. The twists and turns in the novel do make the story pass well along with the trademark Sandford humour.

I must admit that there were a fairly large cast of characters and it took some memory to keep who was who in my head but I enjoyed the story and Flowers as a character.

Davenport is still the man but Flowers is a worthy fill-in.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
teresa
I agree with several other reviewers who find Virgil Flowers to be pretty darn sexy. Long hair, t-shirts. He leaves the gun in the truck. He's witty. Smart. Independent. Oh, wait. This is a BOOK review, not a CHARACTER review.

This was my first Virgil Flowers book though not my first John Sandford book. I've enjoyed Sandford for years and was pleased to find this new character, Virgil, who is sexy, smart, clever, kind, has long hair - here I go again. Virgil is the detective on the scene of a shooting with multiple suspects. He methodically works his way through to the solution, despite some red herrings (red muskie?) and along the way finds himself attracted to two sisters, one of whom is gay and the other married. The ending was clever though I suspected it and the killer was also pretty easy to figure out. Maybe it's true that it's Sandford's son writing these now. Does seem to lack a little sharpness when compared to the earlier Prey series books. Sort of like Clive Clusser's son taking over his writing.

As thrillers go this isn't a John Connelly or Harlan Cobain or Gregg Hurwitz, but it's an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. I have just added the first Virgil Flowers books to my cart so will be able to spend a little more time with Virgil (though I really don't like his name. Couldn't it have been one just a little more contemporary?) soon.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tommy pryor
The author is a skilled writer and the novel has its moments. There is a little bit of everything. There are some gruesome murder descriptions, and there are some funny moments where you don't wnat to be drinking coffee (you might snort it out your nose). The overall plot is a a complexity of relationships. Virgil Flowers just wanted to fish in a muskie tournament, but he is called away from that (you might recall that he tows around a boat on the off chance he might get to sneak away and do some fishing. And then he thinks he might have a chance to score with a new woman in his life, but he keeps getting interrupted.

And then you have the relationships of the suspects. There are straights, gays, switch hitters, and a few boy toys, aka, gigolos who are trying to earn a few bucks to pay university expenses - some people have creattve ways to work their way through college by offerring a few added services on the side when they work at a summer resort (it reminds me of some beach boys I have seen at various locations). There are some jealous lovers - I have seen cat fights in a bar when a woman was stepping out with someone else's boyfriend, so I guess the same thing would happen if a woman was stepping out with another woman's girlfriend.

There are several murders, and another shooting that may not be random. The possible motives and suspects are many and Virgil has to figure out what ties them all together. One major plot device seems borrowed from another author (see Sue Grafton's "S is for Silence"), but the story has its own unique locations and complexities. It tends to be a page turner that is hard to put aside.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jessica surgett
Remarkable skill is required to endow a principle character in a murder mystery novel with opposite characteristics in an entertaining and realistic way. John Sandford does it in his Virgil Flowers novels.

Virgil is no virgin, and while he loves flowers, hates violence and dislikes guns, he is no flower child, not entirely. He is both a laid back vacation loving fisherman but, when necessary, and then only when necessary and reluctantly, a dedicated non-let up cop who works long hours with little sleep. He listens to popular music, but has common-sense and a deep under-the surface intelligence; he writes perceptive articles for the New York Times.

He is fascinated with sex and women are fascinated with him - both in the novels and in the real world of the novels' readers. But despite his desires, he works to find the solution to crimes before sex, of course. Is this foreplay and do women see it as such? Yet, he thinks about God before he falls asleep.

He moves about with an air of ironic humor, which he doesn't seem to notice. Sometimes people around him feel the humor but cannot pinpoint it or express what they feel or see; they also note or at least sense the possible violence in the man, and seem puzzled by the cop who looks like a handsome nonchalant long-haired surfer. Is he the man who massacred the Vietnamese? they ask.

He is serious at work and respected by professionals, including his boss who hired him to solve difficult cases, yet he wears punky t-shirts that clearly shout out that he does not give a damn. The book has a youthful playful carefree humorous aura about it with a mature and serious patina of social concerns and obligations.

It is, in short delightful to read how Virgil acts and reacts and how he solves cases by insightful interrogations and dogged determination. There is all of this and a well-written non-letup engrossing tale.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
trevor kew
Another fun read, Rough Country continues with our hero, Virgil Flowers as he tries to bury himself in a Muskie tournament and instead is dragged into a murder mystery involving a country western singer.
Using a few less “Huh’s” than the last one I read, this story was still full of plenty of plot twists, humor and great writing. I’ve found that this series is the most fun I’ve had with any of Sandford’s work. Flowers is a real character and the writing focuses on him in solid third-person, with little head-hopping. The narrative is brisk, the scenes short, and reading it is a pure pleasure.
I hope he does a lot more of them. I still have a few to fill in the blanks and just picked up another one the other day.
Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lstock68
ROUGH COUNTRY, John Sandford's latest work, proves that his skills show no signs of dulling. This is the third installment in the Virgil Flowers series, a spinoff of his Lucas Davenport books, of which he has written a shelf full.

For the uninitiated, Virgil Flowers is an investigator with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is headed up by the aforementioned Lucas Davenport. Davenport is Flowers's boss, though in ROUGH COUNTRY (and the other Flowers books), his presence is basically limited to a voice over the phone (and very intermittently at that). This helps to keep Davenport from overshadowing Flowers and also allows Flowers to develop as his own character. The reader sees that he is a bit more of an everyman than Davenport; unlike Davenport, he does not have more money than God, is not married (though he is most definitely a player), and has a bit more sass to him, which is played up quite well here. Also, Flowers's methods of investigation are unorthodox (though not exceedingly so); his style may cause one's eyebrows to go up, but no one is in total shock over his behavior...for the most part, anyway.

One of Sandford's major strengths is his ability to create characters who think and act like real law enforcement personnel. This helps the reader to be totally engrossed in the story, which is set in a majestic but remote area of northern Minnesota. As ROUGH COUNTRY opens, Flowers is competing in a fishing tournament when he gets a call from Davenport that yanks him back on duty. A woman has been shot and killed while kayaking at Eagles Nest Lodge in Grand Rapids, a women-only resort where the guests can relax, unwind, recuperate, and, as it turns out, engage in some other activities that aren't exactly spelled out in the brochure.

Flowers initially isn't wild about the assignment, but since everyone else is busy hunting a missing teenager known as "Little Linda," he becomes the go-to guy. As he gradually warms to the task, Flowers discovers that there is a web of connections among the victim, the resort employees, a local bar, and a female country singer with dreams of hitting the big time. And for various reasons, everyone seems to be hiding something. What don't they want Flowers to find out? And what does it all have to do with this woman's murder?

Sandford has Flowers doing what he does best --- kicking things up and turning things over until he gets to the heart of the matter. It is only when the killer attempts to claim another victim, however, that Flowers is inadvertently provided with the clue that he needs to crack the case and bring the murderer to justice while solving (intentionally or otherwise) another case or three in the process.

The characters in ROUGH COUNTRY --- the ones who wander on and off the page and the ones who hang in there for chapter after chapter --- are sharply drawn and memorable, and the plot is equally entertaining and compelling. Ultimately, there is one heck of a mystery to unravel here, and Sandford, veteran that he is, does a magnificent job of laying it out. The reader, by the midway point, will be a step or two ahead of Flowers, until the end when Flowers sprints ahead. You won't mind, though. And you'll be laughing here and there along the way as well.

--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jameia
Rough Country is the third adventure of Virgil Flowers - Sandford's newish protagonist. Virgil works for Lucas Davenport - from the Prey series - in Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. In fact Virgil is Davenport's "go-to" guy when a particularly tough case comes up. Virgil resembles Davenport in attitude/ work habits and the Flowers' books are similar to the Prey Series, but Virgil is enough of his own man to be more than just a cheap imitation and the Flowers series is engaging in its own right.

Virgil, a big fisherman, is called while dallying in his favorite past-time to "look into" the murder of a successful businesswoman at a "neighboring" resort/retreat. Where the Prey series has Lucas Davenport hunting psychopaths, Virgil's cases are more conspiracies and Rough Country fits that mold - Our hero delving into the dead woman's business dealings and her personal life - including "alternative lifestyles".

The one down-side of this book is that the "culprit" is readily identifiable almost upon introduction into the story - even with the twist at the conclusion. But then again Sandford's talent is not in the mystery, but rather in chronicling a police procedural.

If you enjoy this author's previous books you won't be disappointed with this one - fast paced, entertaining and at times, laugh out loud funny.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
al matthews
This is only my second book in the Virgil Flowers series but I found it disappointing after Dark of the Moon. The mystery involved in Rough Country is convoluted--although not that difficult to figure out--and the story is intriguing enough. But this time, Virgil Flowers' quirkiness came across as smug to me--as if the author has become too pleased with his creation. For instance, how many different rock band T-shirts can one character wear--or pack in a duffel bag, for that matter--before it becomes self-indulgent to keep mentioning it?

My biggest problem with the book, though, is difficult to mention without spoilers, but suffice it to say that it bugged me that for all Virgil's I'm-the-smartest-guy-I-know intelligence, he doesn't foresee an entirely predictable situation or do anything to prevent it. And there's only one sentence devoted to Virgil's passing thought that he might be responsible for the really bad result of that negligence. It seemed like a major plot flaw to me and the book never quite recovered from it.

Of minor importance, I found the multiple breaks in the text distracting. There are very few pages in the paperback edition that don't have at least one break in the text--sometimes with asterisks, sometimes without--and I never did figure out what it signified. What is the point of multiple scene breaks within the same scene? Overall, a disappointing effort.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
allister fein
Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Agent Virgil Flowers is in a fishing tournament when his boss Lucas Davenport calls him. Lucas directs Virgil to investigate the shooting death of Minneapolis ad executive with strong ties to the Democrats Erica McDill at the nearby Eagle Nest Lodge.

Virgil quickly heads to the Grand Rapids to learn what he can at the lodge. He interviews owner Margery Stanhope, who explains most people who stay at the lodge are lesbians. Virgil questions the all girl rock band and wealthy guests who can purchase young men or women for a tryst without blinking. As Virgil investigates he learns there was a homicide here last year that seems unrelated, but now he seeks a link when a third killing occurs. He knows he better find the killer before another homicides occur.

The setting of the lodge being a place for lesbians to relax and have fun makes for a great counter to super womanizer Virgil, who is at his outlandish amusing best as he muses whether he is in heaven or hell. The investigation is super with Virgil adjusting his theory to new clues and especially another homicide. Fans who enjoy the Davenport police procedurals will enjoy the terrific efforts of one of his detectives (see DARK OF THE MOON and HEAT LIGHTNING) whose behavior is quite different from that of his superior.

Harriet Klausner
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
abby urbano
John Sandford writes a killer-diller cop type story. Not only does he tell a terrific story, but he imbues his characters with real three dimensional fully fleshed-out personalities. Virgil Flowers loves the ladies and he generally scores with them all the while chasing the bad guys. Minnesota is where most all of these stories take place. Virgil is an investigator for a state police agency, a sometime published writer, and a fishing fanatic! He tows a boat behind his SUV cuz you never know when you might get some time to fish. A homicide occurs at a 'ladies only' retreat and Virgil reluctantly takes the case (he's on vacation...........fishing in a competition). Virgil Flowers is my very favie protagonist. All of Sandford's books are excellent and most highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
barbara snuggs
I don't like this as well as the Lucas Davenport series. However, I like Virgil and the mysteries are just as satisfying as the Davenport ones. Also, Virgil is not happily married with kids so there is a little more interest generated in this younger guy's personal life. This is a very well layered mystery set in the backwoods of Minnesota. There is an expensive, rustic lodge there where lesbian and bi women go to vacation. The murder victim as the story opens is a wealthy woman from the twin cities who is a bi. She is killed by rifle shot while out on the lake in her boat. She is not the only victim though. There is a very diverse community of lesbian and bi women who revolve around one another in the whole community. A country western singer, also a lesbian, seems closely linked to all of the murders and Virgil has to factor her into the mounting murderss. I figured out who did it but I didn't definitively put it together tlll close to the end. There are a couple of twists which make the whole sleuthing process very interesting. I wouldn't call this great but it is very good and can be read in a day or two. It's good entertainment.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star the store reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
danny hall
Virgil Flowers returns for the third time in John Sandford's Rough Country. As the book opens, Virgil is vacationing on a fishing trip in the woods of northern Minnesota, but unfortunately, he's not out of cell phone range. In the middle of a morning on the lake, Virgil gets a call from his boss, Lucas Davenport, who assigns him to investigate the murder of Erica McDill, an executive from the Twin Cities who's been shot to death while vacationing at a nearby lodge that takes only female guests.

Virgil wades into the crime and soon discovers that a variety of people might have had a motive to kill Erica. The case becomes even more complex when a local rock band, also composed exclusively of females, enters the picture. The investigation takes Virgil back and forth across the state and beyond, and it's fun watching him work. As always, he's funny, irreverent, and mostly irresistible to those of the female persuasion. A surprising number of the women in this book are gay, and even if they (well, most of them) are immune to our hero's sex appeal, they are still inevitably charmed.

The character is a younger, single, hipper version of Sandford's principal creation, Lucas Davenport, and readers who enjoy the Prey series that features Davenport will surely enjoy the Virgil Flowers books as well.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
molly barton
I liked the story, liked the writing. I just do not love it.

My problem with John Sanford is you rarely meet the villain until the very end. And there is very little mono-y-mono conflict. I suspect that is why his books have not been made into films.

It is basically one long story told from the viewpoint of Virgil Flowers and you don't really know what the others are thinking. In this one, you get to meet lesbians and musicians in the north woods and they're the best part of the story. The soap opera of the women and their love triangles are the most interesting part of the book. The procedural part or investigation is fairly accurate - but it real life it is harder to get DNA samples and other tests done at the state crime lab than they make it out to be. There's a priority list and only the most important cases get their tests turned around as fast as Virgil Flowers gets his DNA back.

As I said, I like it, I just don't love it.

Here is my novel:
[...]
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jenny heiter
I have become addicted to John Sandford's novels. Reading the Davenport novels was so much fun, I was really reluctant to pick up the new series when Sandford began to concentrate on a new character, Virgil Flowers. Flowers is an agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Apprehension working under Davenport. He has long blonde hair and looks like a surfer dude. He doesn't want to carry his gun and often leaves it in the truck. He hauls a boat around the state because he loves to fish and writes outdoor magazine articles in what he calls his "under time." But he is known in the Bureau as "That F---ing Flowers". Sandford has created another incredibly real and interesting character in Flowers. In this book, Sandford takes us into another small town Minnesota setting with very interesting supporting characters. Flowers struggles to understand who could have committed three murders and a fourth shooting that seem to have no real connection. Flowers finally unravels the puzzle when he links everything to an old mystery in a way no one suspected. These books, as the Davenport novels were, are fast reads. But you will not want to finish the book quickly. Delightful reading. Be careful that you don't read it too fast because there are some subtle things you won't want to miss. This may be the best Sandford cop novel yet.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jonathan watson
This is the fourth book I've read with Virgil Flowers in it, and I think he just keeps getting better. As for the reader who thinks he needs some side-kicks and is not as good a character as Lucas Davenport, I couldn't disagree more.

Lucas is police procedural, all serious and painful. Yeah, they are ok stories, and good diversions, but as someone who has recently come to the series, I doubt I'll read every book like I do some series.

Virgil is a character and has character. He is fun and the books have fun little themes going through them that make the whole business of murder and mayhem less grim. In this book, practically every new acquaintence he makes wants to know about the "massacre" he was previously responsible for, and his attempts to get laid are constantly thwarted, the final time absolutely the most frustratingly hilarious. You almost feel sorry for him.

I also like the fact that the books aren't set in the grim inner city.

So, bottom line, nothing to change here, these stories are lots of fun, and they are just getting better. And if you get it on CD, you can be entertained while you do something like housework!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sam anderson
I went back and forth between four and five stars, but I couldn’t think of one thing that disappointed me or one thing I would have changed. Five stars it is. Great suspense, twists, humor, and just a smidge of romance. Looking forward to the next one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alison downs
Virgil is on a fishing holiday when Lucas calls him to investigate the murder of a well known lady at a women's retreat. She happens to have a lot of people who may want to see her dead, so the investigation leads in many directions. The book has it's own humor as womanizer Virgil, finds himself in the middle of a lesbian retreat, a lesbian band, and cat fights a plenty. The murderer is easy to figure out, but doesn't hurt the story any, as the characters are an interesting lot and the clues flow at a steady pace. As with most the Sandford novels I've read, you know what you're getting when you pick one up....a good crime story with a sense of humor.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
grit fiedler
I've read all of John Sandford's Prey novels, featuring his brilliant Lucas Davenport character, and his second spin-off series with Virgil Flowers. Over the last few books, Sandford has struck as losing his discipline - and "Rough Country", to me, is more evidence of that. At 388 pages, it is easily 75, perhaps 100, pages too long. The padding Sandford has inserted sticks out like a sore thumb. His plotting on this one, with its virtual colony of homosexual women in Grand Rapids MN is overdone from the beginning and ultimately becomes an irritating plot device. Virgil Flowers, as a character, is simply flat this time around. We know all about Flowers, the Bible-quoting detective who doesn't like carrying a gun, wears T-shirts celebrating obscure rock bands and beds women with mind numbing regularity frequency. Virgil just isn't very interesting. Sandford tries to keep the connection with Lucas Davenport alive through occasional phone calls and that doesn't work either.

Fortunately, Sandford is still a terrific storyteller and for all its faults, "Rough Country" is still a page turner.

The story begins, as do all the Sandford books I can recall, with a murder. Usually some innocent person going about their business and ZAP! - death comes whizzing by in the form of a bullet, knife, rope or more creative means. Then either Lucas Davenport or Virgil Flowers comes in to find the killer. Almost always there is a lot of commuting from the Twin Cities through various parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas.

This time, a woman paddles her little boat to do some eagle spotting when a bullet lands right between her eyes.

Virgil Flowers has his fishing competition vacation rudely interrupted and he heads toward a resort near Grand Rapids MN. The resort caters to women, satisfying their need to commune with nature, even in its carnal forms.

For some reason, Sandford decided to make the victim and a number of characters lesbians. I don't understand the decision because it adds little to the storyline that couldn't be worked in otherwise. Sandford works it beyond its worth giving the impression that the majority of women are either bi- or homosexual in that part of Minnesota, an unbelievable proposition. Of course nearly all the women would have sex with Virgil if it weren't for their lesbian preference. Sandford loses control of the Virgil character.

Virgil is an "aw, shucks" character and solves crimes like a good ol' country boy, a hunch here, a happy coincidence there, some rigorous questioning of this and that person and soon the suspect pool is down to only a few with a dramatic ending in the offing.

"Rough Country" is no different - and that's the problem. It is more predictable than the books that came before, more formulaic and while gripping, left me with a constant longing for the Sandford who, was, not the one who is.

Yes, the writing is terrific. I suspect that Sandford is the kind who makes a grocery list compelling reading. But Virgil Flowers in this novel feels spent, like someone you're okay running into, but hope you can get away as quickly as possible. His sexual exploits come across as adolescent this time around, which considering the circumstances, is odd.

I hope Sandford slows down a little, takes more time with character development, cuts out the padding (and the political commentary) and gets back to where he was. Like I said, he's a terrific storyteller, but this story and the way he tells it isn't up to the standard he established in earlier work.

Jerry
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
sabda armandio
Rough Country is actually the third is a series by John Sandford written around Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers. I have not read the first two books but I was able to glisten from this one that Virgil is somewhat of a ladies man and has been successful in using this to his advantage in previous murder investigations. Well, this is not going to work in this case.

The discovery of Erica McDill's body in a cove at the Eagle Nest Lodge opens up the proverbial can of worms when it comes to suspects. Love triangles (and squares), money, prejudice, and every other motive are all exposed when Virgil starts taking at closer look at Erica's associates - personal and business - as well as the locals surrounding the Lodge. Is the killer a local who has something against lesbians, the primary guests at the lodge? Or is it an act of jealousy since Erica has had her share of affairs and was planning on leaving her live-in partner? Virgil's sexual prowess will not provide him with any secret information with this band of suspects and the fact that information is hidden, lies are told and secrets are kept does not make his job any easier.

I enjoyed the fast pace of this book. And I especially like Virgil Flowers as a lead character. He is a authority bucking, lady loving, rock and roll t-shirt wearing man's man who happens to pray every night before bed and he is just plain fun to follow. The mystery aspect of the story was decent and there were some great moments of humor. Most of the minor players added a nice local flavor of being in the rough country of Minnesota. There were a few moment of displeasure though. Quite a bit of the actions and dialogue of many of the female (and mostly lesbian) characters were somewhat stereotypical in nature and there were some derogatory remarks, of course made by men, concerning the ladies in the story. Perhaps these remarks were made to relay that feeling of being in the back woods and to provide a reason for the killing but I found them a tad disconcerting and distracting. These minor faults did not take away from a quick and entertaining read though and have made me curious about the two other Virgil Flower's books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
daniel tasayco
Virgil is in a fishing tournament and gets pulled off his vacation to investigate the murder of a woman who was shot in the head while she was in a boat on a lake. It's just the first murder and lots of suspects.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
brinton
INVESTIGATOR VIRGIL FLOWERS IS CALLED OUT OF YET ANOTHER FISHING TOURNAMENT TO SOLVE THE MYSTERY OF THE MURDER OF A WOMAN SHOT THROUGH THE FOREHEAD WHILE BIRD-WATCHING IN A CANOE. THE SETTING IS A LODGE IN MINNESOTA FAVORED BY OUTDOORSY LESBIANS. THE CAST OF CHARACTERS INCLUDES AN ALL FEMALE COUNTRY MUSIC BAND WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR FAME, A FEMALE ACCOUNTANT WITH A HARDON FOR THE BAND'S LEAD SINGER, AND THE FATHER & BROTHER OF THAT SAME LEAD SINGER WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE INSPIRATION FOR THE LINE "SQUEAL LIKE A PIG."

A GOOD READ FOR JOHN SANDERS DEVOTEES. VIRGIL IS ACTUALLY MAKING ME RETHINK MY MENTAL LOVE AFFAIR WITH LUCAS DAVENPORT....THAT BLEEEEEEEEEPING FLOWERS!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alex angelico
Virgil is much more my sort of guy than say...Lucas Davenport. I'm not rich, not into men's fashion and prefer rock band T-shirts and fishing. Virgil lacks the innate violence of Davenport and comes off as more a guy who can do it but would rather not. Lucas has that whole vigilante vibe going on while Virgil would rather not hurt anyone....even a child molester if he can catch him.

Rough country goes into some different social ground in dealing with lesbians and Sandford appears to have a good time poking fun at both the rainbow crowd and the homophobic. I enjoyed it all but he really needs to give me better directions to those fishing lakes instead of just teasing me.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
donna huber
Like all John Sandford books I found this hard to put down once I started. There is something very satisfying about his writing. The descriptions of the locations, people and conversations are very interesting and easy to become absorbed in.
I believe I have read all of his books to date.
This latest is good however I figured out who the killer was pretty quickly this time but wasn't sure why he was killing. I figured it was something I was missing.
When I found out the reason for his killings I was disappointed. I was thinking that John Sandford needed some way to tie this up and frankly, it wasn't his best ending or his best killer.
Next one might be better.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
akmalkhon
How do you rate a book where you like the author and increasingly like the central character but can't get past a glaring plot point that pretty much ruins the book for you. I don't want to give anything away, but there's a plot line in the book that was joint so off key it was irritating. Suffice it to say a character meets a easily predictable end in a thoroughly predictable manner and the lead detective does nothing about it and seems surprised. In a Lucas book there would have been a deabte about using the character as bait or at least the morality of it. Here, it's a surprise to everyone, except the reader. Really kind of blew an otherwise enjoyable book for me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
pamela viscomi yates
Virgil Flowers is a BCA agent in Minnesota. He has a fantastic crime clearance ratio. But he also likes the ladies and loves to fish. In fact, he is rarely without a boat dragging behind his pickup truck, waiting for an opportunity to drop a line. Even when on official BCA business. And no matter where he goes, he can find the ladies, even to a "ladies" only retreat in Northen Minnesota. This is no ordinary retreat, and it caters to those who can be discreet, and aslo can afford what pleasure they desire.

In this novel about love, sex, and money, Virgil is sent to investigate a murder at an exclusive lakefront retreat. What are the connections: sex, money, lifestyle, jealousy, possessiveness? All factors to consider. But one murder leads to another and soon, Virgil is up to his eyeballs in victims and suspects. There are no close ties between victims, and all the suspects appear to be liars and manipulators. Slowly he realizes that one woman is in the center of every relationship, every lead keeps going back to her, one way or another. So how can this be? She is not physically able to do the killings, she has nothing to gain, so why is she the object of someone else's murderous spree?

Solving the murders is one aspect of this novel, the other is whether Virgil will get some much needed R&R (fishing and cozy time)while running back and forth across the state of Minnesota and also down to Iowa. He follows the leads, thin as they are, and eventually gets the person responsible for not one, two, or three deaths, but multiples. A real backwoods serial killer if ever there was one hiding in the forests of Minnesota.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
noura alabdulkader
Virgil Flowers' latest romp through the Minnesota backcountry has a great streak of humor. It's taken me out of the gloom of the other book I'm reading right now. Virgil is such a compelling character, that I think I could read about him doing just about anything. Seeing him in the midst of a bunch of girl drama was interesting, if a bit out of his element. Through Virgil, the reader is also treated to an accurate depiction of small town life. Here's to more stories about a cop in cowboy boots and rock t-shirts dragging a boat behind a state owned rig.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
weston
Book 3 in the Virgil Flowers series is will written with the usual interesting well developed characters. A fast moving story line that lead too a successful conclusion by Virgil and his friends. I would recommend this series too anyone who enjoy John Sandford and or a good mystery. Enjoy reading
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
john niedermeyer
When I first started this book I was afraid maybe I had stepped away from this genre for too long. It felt rough around the edges, seemed more of a "man's" book, and I wasn't sure I was going to like it. But, I knew if I walked away from a mystery, it would bug me not knowing who the killer was. So, I stuck it out through the language (which wasn't excessive, but apparently I've been reading books that don't contain a lot), and the focus on the lesbian issues. Then it really started to draw me in, and I was extremely glad I hadn't given up on it. I got a great twist towards then end that I really didn't see coming. I love that because I've read enough of this type of story that I usually can see it coming. The mystery was tied together nicely and the last pages left me laughing!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
julie page
This Virgil installment was pretty darned entertaining. I wasn't crazy about the last one, since "international intrigue" (especially dating back to Vietnam, etc.) just doesn't draw me in. I loved this story line that was just some old fashioned homegrown crime combined with some solid, dedicated investigation. Virgil relies quite a bit on gut instinct, but we know he's smart enough to pull it off! This series is more character driven then mystery plot drive, but if you love Virgil like me, that's more then enough.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alishya burrell
We are back again with Virgil Flowers (though I don't believe his 'nickname' shows up once in the book), in the latest from John Sandford. This time he is investigating a murder at a woman only lodge in the wilderness. But that much, you can get from just reading the dust jacket.

While I liked this book more than the previous one in the series, it still doesn't seem as good as the first Virgil novel. We still have the plot twists and turns that we all have come to expect, and the author's writing style is easy to read and the characters are somewhat believable. However, Virgil continues to be Lucas Davenport lite. He acts much more laid back and the author tries to differentiate Virgil from Lucas, but doesn't try hard enough in my opinion. Which hampers the story, as this book wasn't quite the page turner the earlier Lucas novels were as well as some of the characters in it are very one dimensional and their only contribution is very shallow sub-plots.

All in all, the book was easy to read and somewhat fun, but had very definite flaws in comparison to the author's larger body of work.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
emily swartz
I think all of you rating this book low due to Kindle prices are selfish and ridiculous! Your one-star review doesn't reflect on the content at all, and I hope you all realize you're missing out on a really great mystery.

This is my first experience with Virgil Flowers and I will definitely be back for more. In fact, I might even order Sandford's backlist from the store in hardcover (I hope all you Kindle readers cringe at that!) because the character and plot managed to keep me intrigued from start to finish and had me laughing out loud while developing quite a crush on Virgil (I see I'm not alone in this, as another reviewer noted as well).

ROUGH COUNTRY is a fun, unique mystery that I highly recommend!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jackie
I love the Virgil Flowers books, as they have the perfect combination of crime, mystery, humour and the Sandford Extra (sexy, dynamic, fun) in them.
Flowers is a worthy successor to Davenport, as Davenport acts according to his age- fortunately he still gets his "own" cases allocated by Sandford, but he's tied down by that wife (whom I really dsilike!), and much quieter now, acting his age.
This book offers lots of great, nicely drawn characters, a convincing plot, and very coherent narration. I admire Sandford for the way he keeps his characters in a credible development, and adding new characters for the crime aspect. Virgil is young, cool, sexy, and a great detective. One of my real favourites!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
carol vanvalkenburg
In just days Erica McDill was supposed to finally takeover the advertising agency Ruff-Harcourt-McDill in Minneapolis. With Ruff having died sometime back and Harcourt retired and finally willing to sell his stock to McDill the agency was almost in her grasp. Once he sold his shares, she would have seventy-five percent of the outstanding shares under her control and she would finally be able to get rid of the dead weight and move the agency forward. She was going to terminate employees at work and was thinking about terminating her relationship with her longtime lover, Ruth. The takeover of the agency would change everything and McDill had big plans. That was until a bullet tore through her head, ending her life, while she sat in a canoe-kayak hybrid on Stone Lake.

The bullet that ended McDill's life ended Virgil Flowers' vacation as well. Both Virgil and Johnson, his fishing buddy, were fishing in a tournament on Vermillion Lake in far northern Minnesota. With a fifteen year old girl, Little Linda Pelli, missing and resources tied up with that thanks to heavy media coverage, Lucas Davenport has no choice but to send Virgil to take a look. Not only is the local Sheriff, Bob Sanders, asking for help, McDill was a big Democrat and the Governor wants answers. Virgil has no choice and leaves the tournament to conduct the investigation.

Beyond the fact that the killer made a very good shot to kill McDill, actual clues at the scene are few. The investigation isn't completely dead as there are links to a local band and its lead singer, a local lodge known to be frequented by lesbians, and various residents of the area. Because of the lesbian lifestyle practiced by many of the characters and other factors, Virgil is constantly blatantly lied to and misdirected as he conducts an investigation that for most of the book goes nowhere fast.

In between taking shots at Fox News and Liberals (an interesting combination, obviously created to hide author's feelings), Virgil spends much of the novel in pursuit of not only the case, but a certain married woman whose husband has temporarily left her. While the language isn't as crude as it has been in several of the most recent Lucas Davenport novels, there are nearly constant references to lesbianism in this book which is certain to offend some readers. All the references to the lesbianism of many of the characters as well as his pursuit of the married woman slows down the small amount of action in the novel considerably while at the same time padding word counts and page lengths.

Clearly it is an effort to put Virgil in a bit of a bind. A notorious womanizer, Virgil has no chance of conquest with many of the female characters due to their lesbianism. In case the reader isn't able to figure that fact out on his or her own, there are constant references to the situation and how difficult it must be for Virgil not to have a chance. Heterosexuality stands out in this novel and, of course, Virgil finds himself heavily attracted to the one character with an absent husband. The feeling is mutual because Virgil Flowers has that effect on all women--regardless of their sexual preference.

The Flowers series has never had the intensity of the "Prey" series books and that isn't changed here. Virgil Flowers spends much of his time insulting various folks while conducting his investigation and chasing after the married woman when he isn't investigating the crime. "Rough Country" is weaker than the previous Flowers series novels (Dark of the Moon" and "Heat Lightening"), and one wishes that John Sandford would get back to the hard hitting suspense of the early "Prey" novels. This one not only doesn't do that trick, it doesn't rise to the level of a mediocre Lucas Davenport novel. If, as some have said, the various series are now being written by John Sandford's son, it is unfortunate for the authors as well as readers.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2009
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
sally klem
This is my 3rd Virgil Flowers book and it wasn't as enjoyable as the 2 previous. This one felt really long. It just took too long in this little town to sort out the less than engaging characters and resolve things. Just too drawn out. There was an other problem in this one that dealt w/ perpetuating false stereotypes concerning lesbians . Sensationalistic stuff that doesn't occur a lot in this superior series. This one lost its way. Hopefully an anolomy.
The Virgil Flowers books are eons better than The Lucas Davenport stories. Those (and that character) are too conventional to retain much interest. And when Davenport's wife shows up watch out. A sure cure for insomnia.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nancy o brien
This is book three for Virgil Flowers, and it's another quirky mystery with tons of suspects and possible motives, with Flowers spending large parts of the book trying to sort through false leads and untangle romantic lines. He's not perfect, and that makes this series fun to follow.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dorianne laux
I just read this book for the second time. It's been several years and I liked it even better than the first time. Sandford has a way of making his readers feel like they actually know Virgil. But i might be a little biased since I have read all Sandford novels and most of them twice.better
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ali winter
I, too am fed up with the over pricing of new releases. it's simple - put the book in save for later and buy when the price drops. by the way, it is th publisher who sets the price, not the store and who makes the lion's share of the profits.

i really enjoyed the book and applaud the setting of an alternate lifestyle. Flowers is a refreshing character but I prefer him as a supporting character to Davenport.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christine cochrum
Rough Country is arguably John Sandford's best. The plot is strong, the build-up is carefully crafted, and the characters are unique and believable. Virgil Flowers is his No. 1 protagonist. The story is injected with just the right amount of humor and suspense to keep you reading well into the night. Definitely a 5
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mac wai
I can't put down any John Sandford book but this is one of his best. First, Virgil is a complex and highly interesting character. Second, Stanford's plots are imaginative and believable. Finally, He's just a really good writer.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
shaq o neil
What more could you want than a good story? This is only the second Flowers book I have read. I find him an interesting character. I was disappointed that he never got to be with his girl to be. Like the way he shares credit and avoids the limelight. This was a good story and you could reason out whodunit if you pay attention. Like the clues given throughout. A good read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
richard stomp
I read this book, and I loved it just as much as the previous two Virgil Flowers books. He's an interesting detective, and I always like John Sandford's plots. This one was well thought out, and had a strong ending. What I expect from Sandford. Great as always.

But I am TIRED of reading reviews from people that do nothing but complain about the price. If you have a gripe about the price, contact the store customer service! Don't give the book a one-star review because you don't like the price. This is a place for BOOK REVIEWS. It is not a forum for launching a protest against the store's pricing policies.
These reviews complaining about the price are improper and unfair to the author, and also unfair to fans who may get the wrong impression of the book.

So please, don't be misled by the bad reviews. This is an excellent read. If you don't like the price, then wait for the paperback.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
peggy goldblatt
Book 3 in the Virgil Flowers series is will written with the usual interesting well developed characters. A fast moving story line that lead too a successful conclusion by Virgil and his friends. I would recommend this series too anyone who enjoy John Sandford and or a good mystery. Enjoy reading
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
liliane
When I first started this book I was afraid maybe I had stepped away from this genre for too long. It felt rough around the edges, seemed more of a "man's" book, and I wasn't sure I was going to like it. But, I knew if I walked away from a mystery, it would bug me not knowing who the killer was. So, I stuck it out through the language (which wasn't excessive, but apparently I've been reading books that don't contain a lot), and the focus on the lesbian issues. Then it really started to draw me in, and I was extremely glad I hadn't given up on it. I got a great twist towards then end that I really didn't see coming. I love that because I've read enough of this type of story that I usually can see it coming. The mystery was tied together nicely and the last pages left me laughing!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
garrett bridges
This Virgil installment was pretty darned entertaining. I wasn't crazy about the last one, since "international intrigue" (especially dating back to Vietnam, etc.) just doesn't draw me in. I loved this story line that was just some old fashioned homegrown crime combined with some solid, dedicated investigation. Virgil relies quite a bit on gut instinct, but we know he's smart enough to pull it off! This series is more character driven then mystery plot drive, but if you love Virgil like me, that's more then enough.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
martinxo
We are back again with Virgil Flowers (though I don't believe his 'nickname' shows up once in the book), in the latest from John Sandford. This time he is investigating a murder at a woman only lodge in the wilderness. But that much, you can get from just reading the dust jacket.

While I liked this book more than the previous one in the series, it still doesn't seem as good as the first Virgil novel. We still have the plot twists and turns that we all have come to expect, and the author's writing style is easy to read and the characters are somewhat believable. However, Virgil continues to be Lucas Davenport lite. He acts much more laid back and the author tries to differentiate Virgil from Lucas, but doesn't try hard enough in my opinion. Which hampers the story, as this book wasn't quite the page turner the earlier Lucas novels were as well as some of the characters in it are very one dimensional and their only contribution is very shallow sub-plots.

All in all, the book was easy to read and somewhat fun, but had very definite flaws in comparison to the author's larger body of work.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dylan reed
I think all of you rating this book low due to Kindle prices are selfish and ridiculous! Your one-star review doesn't reflect on the content at all, and I hope you all realize you're missing out on a really great mystery.

This is my first experience with Virgil Flowers and I will definitely be back for more. In fact, I might even order Sandford's backlist from the store in hardcover (I hope all you Kindle readers cringe at that!) because the character and plot managed to keep me intrigued from start to finish and had me laughing out loud while developing quite a crush on Virgil (I see I'm not alone in this, as another reviewer noted as well).

ROUGH COUNTRY is a fun, unique mystery that I highly recommend!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bhavin
I love the Virgil Flowers books, as they have the perfect combination of crime, mystery, humour and the Sandford Extra (sexy, dynamic, fun) in them.
Flowers is a worthy successor to Davenport, as Davenport acts according to his age- fortunately he still gets his "own" cases allocated by Sandford, but he's tied down by that wife (whom I really dsilike!), and much quieter now, acting his age.
This book offers lots of great, nicely drawn characters, a convincing plot, and very coherent narration. I admire Sandford for the way he keeps his characters in a credible development, and adding new characters for the crime aspect. Virgil is young, cool, sexy, and a great detective. One of my real favourites!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
vahid
In just days Erica McDill was supposed to finally takeover the advertising agency Ruff-Harcourt-McDill in Minneapolis. With Ruff having died sometime back and Harcourt retired and finally willing to sell his stock to McDill the agency was almost in her grasp. Once he sold his shares, she would have seventy-five percent of the outstanding shares under her control and she would finally be able to get rid of the dead weight and move the agency forward. She was going to terminate employees at work and was thinking about terminating her relationship with her longtime lover, Ruth. The takeover of the agency would change everything and McDill had big plans. That was until a bullet tore through her head, ending her life, while she sat in a canoe-kayak hybrid on Stone Lake.

The bullet that ended McDill's life ended Virgil Flowers' vacation as well. Both Virgil and Johnson, his fishing buddy, were fishing in a tournament on Vermillion Lake in far northern Minnesota. With a fifteen year old girl, Little Linda Pelli, missing and resources tied up with that thanks to heavy media coverage, Lucas Davenport has no choice but to send Virgil to take a look. Not only is the local Sheriff, Bob Sanders, asking for help, McDill was a big Democrat and the Governor wants answers. Virgil has no choice and leaves the tournament to conduct the investigation.

Beyond the fact that the killer made a very good shot to kill McDill, actual clues at the scene are few. The investigation isn't completely dead as there are links to a local band and its lead singer, a local lodge known to be frequented by lesbians, and various residents of the area. Because of the lesbian lifestyle practiced by many of the characters and other factors, Virgil is constantly blatantly lied to and misdirected as he conducts an investigation that for most of the book goes nowhere fast.

In between taking shots at Fox News and Liberals (an interesting combination, obviously created to hide author's feelings), Virgil spends much of the novel in pursuit of not only the case, but a certain married woman whose husband has temporarily left her. While the language isn't as crude as it has been in several of the most recent Lucas Davenport novels, there are nearly constant references to lesbianism in this book which is certain to offend some readers. All the references to the lesbianism of many of the characters as well as his pursuit of the married woman slows down the small amount of action in the novel considerably while at the same time padding word counts and page lengths.

Clearly it is an effort to put Virgil in a bit of a bind. A notorious womanizer, Virgil has no chance of conquest with many of the female characters due to their lesbianism. In case the reader isn't able to figure that fact out on his or her own, there are constant references to the situation and how difficult it must be for Virgil not to have a chance. Heterosexuality stands out in this novel and, of course, Virgil finds himself heavily attracted to the one character with an absent husband. The feeling is mutual because Virgil Flowers has that effect on all women--regardless of their sexual preference.

The Flowers series has never had the intensity of the "Prey" series books and that isn't changed here. Virgil Flowers spends much of his time insulting various folks while conducting his investigation and chasing after the married woman when he isn't investigating the crime. "Rough Country" is weaker than the previous Flowers series novels (Dark of the Moon" and "Heat Lightening"), and one wishes that John Sandford would get back to the hard hitting suspense of the early "Prey" novels. This one not only doesn't do that trick, it doesn't rise to the level of a mediocre Lucas Davenport novel. If, as some have said, the various series are now being written by John Sandford's son, it is unfortunate for the authors as well as readers.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2009
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
girish
This is my 3rd Virgil Flowers book and it wasn't as enjoyable as the 2 previous. This one felt really long. It just took too long in this little town to sort out the less than engaging characters and resolve things. Just too drawn out. There was an other problem in this one that dealt w/ perpetuating false stereotypes concerning lesbians . Sensationalistic stuff that doesn't occur a lot in this superior series. This one lost its way. Hopefully an anolomy.
The Virgil Flowers books are eons better than The Lucas Davenport stories. Those (and that character) are too conventional to retain much interest. And when Davenport's wife shows up watch out. A sure cure for insomnia.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
henrik
This is book three for Virgil Flowers, and it's another quirky mystery with tons of suspects and possible motives, with Flowers spending large parts of the book trying to sort through false leads and untangle romantic lines. He's not perfect, and that makes this series fun to follow.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mariana orantes
I just read this book for the second time. It's been several years and I liked it even better than the first time. Sandford has a way of making his readers feel like they actually know Virgil. But i might be a little biased since I have read all Sandford novels and most of them twice.better
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
missbhavens
I, too am fed up with the over pricing of new releases. it's simple - put the book in save for later and buy when the price drops. by the way, it is th publisher who sets the price, not the store and who makes the lion's share of the profits.

i really enjoyed the book and applaud the setting of an alternate lifestyle. Flowers is a refreshing character but I prefer him as a supporting character to Davenport.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jenny nicolelli
Rough Country is arguably John Sandford's best. The plot is strong, the build-up is carefully crafted, and the characters are unique and believable. Virgil Flowers is his No. 1 protagonist. The story is injected with just the right amount of humor and suspense to keep you reading well into the night. Definitely a 5
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ahmed kandil
I can't put down any John Sandford book but this is one of his best. First, Virgil is a complex and highly interesting character. Second, Stanford's plots are imaginative and believable. Finally, He's just a really good writer.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
anto ia lewis
What more could you want than a good story? This is only the second Flowers book I have read. I find him an interesting character. I was disappointed that he never got to be with his girl to be. Like the way he shares credit and avoids the limelight. This was a good story and you could reason out whodunit if you pay attention. Like the clues given throughout. A good read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
melissa tepperman
I read this book, and I loved it just as much as the previous two Virgil Flowers books. He's an interesting detective, and I always like John Sandford's plots. This one was well thought out, and had a strong ending. What I expect from Sandford. Great as always.

But I am TIRED of reading reviews from people that do nothing but complain about the price. If you have a gripe about the price, contact the store customer service! Don't give the book a one-star review because you don't like the price. This is a place for BOOK REVIEWS. It is not a forum for launching a protest against the store's pricing policies.
These reviews complaining about the price are improper and unfair to the author, and also unfair to fans who may get the wrong impression of the book.

So please, don't be misled by the bad reviews. This is an excellent read. If you don't like the price, then wait for the paperback.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
stephanie lape
Never saw the ending coming.It was right there in front of the reader but Sandford cleverly distracted me by the well woven story and the subplot of Virgil Flowers, AKA, you know, and the sister of one of his suspects. Well written as one would expect from Sandford.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shala
Great Book
I have read several of Sanford's Luke Davenport novels, and enjoyed this one just has much. Sanford takes a little different approach in laying out he crime. It is a who done it right till the end. I am looking for my next Virgil Flowers novel at the library now.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jessica k
The book arrives. It's like candy. But you have others to read. It's gonna be sweet, entertain and be fun. Maybe I'll just start it.

Game over. Virgil's fishing at the opening, but it's us he hooks. The pages fly, the author pro that he is, even gets us looking at google for Grace Slick v. Janis.

While many books are work, this disappears like M&M's.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lauren stephanoff
as always, john sandford has written another great book. virgil flowers is my favorite character. he is always strong and funny. i hope to read more books based on his character. he writes about real towns in minnesota, also.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
isha k
Loved the book. Very exciting! Great ending twist. I always like when the author surprises you, with something that was there throughout the book,, but you never realize it unto the end. Virgil is one interesting fellow.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jenn priske
Virgil has a come a long way. I thought the first Virgil Flowers novel was nothing special, and the second was good. But now, Sandford seems to have a full sense of Virgil and he is fully alive in this latest. As a couple other reviewers noted, "Rough Country" is not really a whodunnit in the traditional sense. It does become obvious who the perp is mid-way through.
That being said, I still found the story, the characters, the cop-work, and the writing very enjoyable and compelling. I don't think Sandford gets enough credit for being such a good writer, because he works in the 'thriller/mystery" genre. His dialogue is second to none. His characters always jump off the page. Sandford has completely mastered the clipped/hyper-real/rapid-fire sequencing that always give the impression we are merely witnesses to what is unfolding.
Must say, I thought it was cool how Virgil was basically denied romantic fulfillment the entire novel. One of the most insulting and forced part of too many action/thriller novels is the hero always bedding the most attractive, alluring woman. Life just ain't like that...John Sandford knows that.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
rick
...getting laid and you end up feeling sorry for Virgil while laughing at the predicament. He does solve the mystery, tho, and even gets in some fishing which is just about as important to him! His future plans which he tells Davenport at the end are a hoot too.

I've read all the Flowers and Prey books (in order, no less) and much prefer Lucas Davenport. His last story (Wicked Prey) is one of the best in the series. The big difference between the two men (besides age, style) are the supporting characters. Virgil has God, t-shirts, fishing and Lucas which don't provide as much color, problems and humor as the cast in the Prey series all of whom remind me of people I know or have known. Virgil needs support characters to make things more real and interesting. Still a good read and I look forward to future stories in this series.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
brooke
Comfortable but unexciting opus from Sanford. Protagonist Virgil Flowers follows his usual "policeman" routine throughout, but due to a spate of lesbians, has few opportunities to seek sexual adventures. The whole story is quite laid back, but as I wrote, "comfortable." Good ending - denouement.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
frannie
I am a prfessed John Sandford fan, love Lucas Davenport. Virgil Flowers has grown on me more each book. He is fun, funny and highly entertaining. Sandford's short section style in this book helps with the many characters. A good, very different muder mystery that keeps expanding. HIGHLY ROCOMMENDED.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
barb pardol
It seems Sandford can turn these stories out endlessly; Always new characters, new locations, new ideas with references to past stories.
It's not epic literature, and isn't meant to be. A good read, as advertised.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
natalie kozlovska
another in a long line of thoroughly entertaining books from john sandford. i actually look forward to the release dates for sandford's books because i know i'll get to spend a little bit of time in the world he's created. you settle into a lucas davenport or virgil flowers book and know you're going to have a great ride. you can point out weak points all you want, but his books are unabashedly fun. can't wait for more, but he is an old guy so tick tock get to it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nader
If you know that John Sandford is the very best suspense and thriller writer, you probably already know that his Virgil Flowers books are just a younger, tougher, smarter version of his Lucas Davenport books. But obviously no detective is tougher and smarter than Davenport but Flowers comes awfully close.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sarah robinson
Very entertaining book to read. Not terribly deep, but a good mystery nontheless. The dialogue between the cops is right on the spot! Really like the character of Virgil Flowers and how he handles his investigations. Looking forward to the next book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anju rani
I've read a "bunch" of John Sanfords' novels and can honestly say this was one of his best! I'd certainly recommend this book to any of his fans, and certainly to anyone not yet familiar with his writing skills!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tami garrard
WOW! Sandford has done it again. I WAS going to say that he hasn't lost a step, but I'll revise that. He's getting better.

Virgil Flowers is becoming almost as interesting a character as is Lucas Davenport. You stay up late to finish this book, then are unhappy when it's over.

I can only hope that John Sandford keeps writing as long as I am alive. MORE. MORE.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kellykhu78
I Liked the book. It has the twists and turns that Sandford does so well. If you like Sandfordes other works, this should not disapoint. I am starting to Prefer the "Flowers" books over the new "Davenport" books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
meghann
If you know that John Sandford is the very best suspense and thriller writer, you probably already know that his Virgil Flowers books are just a younger, tougher, smarter version of his Lucas Davenport books. But obviously no detective is tougher and smarter than Davenport but Flowers comes awfully close.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
towanda
Very entertaining book to read. Not terribly deep, but a good mystery nontheless. The dialogue between the cops is right on the spot! Really like the character of Virgil Flowers and how he handles his investigations. Looking forward to the next book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
keesha
I've read a "bunch" of John Sanfords' novels and can honestly say this was one of his best! I'd certainly recommend this book to any of his fans, and certainly to anyone not yet familiar with his writing skills!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kalisa beagle torkamani
WOW! Sandford has done it again. I WAS going to say that he hasn't lost a step, but I'll revise that. He's getting better.

Virgil Flowers is becoming almost as interesting a character as is Lucas Davenport. You stay up late to finish this book, then are unhappy when it's over.

I can only hope that John Sandford keeps writing as long as I am alive. MORE. MORE.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
newsy
I've long been a Sanford fan, and have REALLY enjoyed the Virgil Flowers books. I find him fresh and innovative, and a terrific counterpoint to Lucas Davenport's dourness.

There's quite a bit in this book to appreciate: first and foremost, the irony of chronic womanizer and hound Flowers finding himself smack-dab in the middle of a murder case heavily populated with beautiful - and gay - women.

You see, a murder has taken place at a resort hotel patronized exclusively by women - especially gay women. The victim's gay, as are many of the suspects and witnesses and other characters. Gay women.

What's a hound like Virgil to do?

Though this is a really clever device for a while, the blush does come off that rose, and there's only so far it can be driven as the primary mover of the story.

And that's why I didn't rate the book higher. After a while, we have to address the fact that there's supposed to be an actual story here. There is, in a sense: it's fun seeing Virgil driving and flying hither and yon chasing down clues and leads. The problem is this: less than halfway through the book, I'd figured out who the perp was and why that person committed the crime.

Oh, there was a slight twist thrown in at the end that I hadn't figured out, but I had the right perp and motivation at about page 120 or so.

So.... Buyer beware. If you're looking for a puzzler, this isn't going to satisy. If you're looking for a very light romp, some beach or airline reading, then this book's for you.

PS... to you Kindle whiners. This isn't the forum for that. Write an email to the store or something. No one wants to wade through your tantrums while trying to figure out if this is a book they want to read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
victoriaruthless2014
This is the first book that I have read by John Sandford. The plot sounded interesting when I picked it up at the airport bookstore. I laughed out loud at some of the descriptions of life in the north woods. The story offered twists and turns that I could not predict. I could not put the book down and was surprised by the ending. I am looking forward to the other Virgil Flowers books.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
angelacolville
I was so surprised with this book,expecting to get a great read from Sanford I got a very big disapointment. The story is boring,totally impossible to keep the characters straight and by the middle of the book couldn't even tell you what the point of this book is. I would not recomend this book to anyone.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
nihar sawant
I like the new character of Virgil Flowers. I am not done with this audio book, however, it is good. I am not totally in love with the plot and have liked another of Virgil Flowers books better but can't remember the name of it. However, I am glad to get this as it is good. I find Sandford's books always interesting and can't wait to get back to them but Virgil Flowers is the most refreshing. I am glad Sandford has reinvented his writing through V Flowers.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
goldie
what am I missing here? Why is everyone upset over the $9.99 pricing for new books for Kindle? New releases in hardback are anywhere from $15 (Walmart discounts) to over $30. Paperbacks are almost $10. The author needs to make his money too. Personally I LOVE paying $9.99 for a new release..........keep em coming!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
breige
On the one hand, the pages of this mystery spin-off of Sandford's popular Prey series do turn easily enough. On the other hand, it definitely has the feel of being an afterthought side project between Prey novels. It relies too much on entertaining dialog (which sometime succeeds, but not always) and titillation, and not enough on plot or plausibility.

Minnesota Bureau of Crimes detective Virgil Flowers makes up his own rules as he conducts a solo investigation of the murder of a lesbian advertising mogul at an upstate women's-only retreat. With the local police ostensibly all tied up searching for a missing 15 year-old, it is left to Flowers alone to investigate this high-profile murder. Which he does, making the occasional check-in phone call to his off-screen boss Lucas Davenport (of the Prey novels), by essentially ignoring all standard law-enforcement procedure and common sense. Although he does Mirandize a witness or two, basically he spends his days driving around asking the locals obtrusive questions without making any record of his interviews. To read about Flowers, you'd never guess that most cops spend half their time doing paperwork.

Then after putting in one of his six-hour days, he'll drop by the home of a suspect with a six-pack. He gets personally involved, in a number of different ways, with various people involved in the case. His actions would taint any real-life investigation beyond the hope of a prosecution. In comparison to the highly realistic style that dominates contemporary mystery fiction, this book reads more like a modern take on the amateur detective who ruled crime fiction 80 to 100 years ago.

I thought the resolution was the weakest part of the story. It's basically a cheat: there is a key sign to what is really going on visible to everyone, although in the story, only Flowers is able to spot it. Yet the reader is not (until late in the game) given an equal chance to see the obvious because it depends on just that, being able to actually see the characters. If this book were developed as a movie and cast accurately, it would be obvious to all viewers what had happened within five seconds. Yet the non-Flowers characters (and even Flowers himself, for several days and several more shootings) don't notice what's right in front of their eyes.

Admittedly there is plenty of other evidence pointing toward a highly suspicious character who turns out to be guilty, but the original murder would and should have been resolved long before any of that came out.

I mentioned titillation: the book is rampant with hot young lesbian and bisexual women (and the occasional straight, if married, woman), and this keeps hound dog Virgil pointed in the wrong direction much of the time. Lingering on the sex aspects of the quasi-lesbian resort, the promising young alt-country band made up of cute young things who'll do anyone with a pulse, and even the local bi CPA, definitely comes across as exploitative. And gratuitously so, as this part of the story has little if anything to do with its resolution.

Also annoying to me after a while was Flowers's (and therefore Sandford's) relentless trick of dropping the names and prominently flaunting the t-shirts of various trendy indie bands. It smacks of a desperate need for approval in author, character, or both. Unless of course, Sandford was trying to make an "ironic" statement about the sort of people who urgently need to demonstrate their independence from mainstream musical taste to total strangers. I don't think that's it, as Sandford has been prone to doing the same thing re Davenport.

Other than those false notes, the book is a good enough plane or beach read. But it doesn't have anything like the staying power of even the later Prey novels. If Sandford really wants to set up an eventual successor to the settled Davenport, I think someone a little more believable than Flowers would be a better choice. Davenport's eccentricities and his superiors' tolerance for them were based in part on Davenport's financial independence and in part in the 1980s' style of fiction being different than the 2010s'. I don't think in a CSI world you can have a freewheeler like Flowers just make it all up as he goes along and then argue that the successful ends justify any flaky means. Not when a more realistic end than an arrest and conviction would be: Case dismissed due to investigatory playfulness.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
naveen
The writing of these formulaic books has gotten sloppy over the past few years. It is clear to me that John Sandford has taken the James Patterson approach to writing by doing nothing more than writing the outlines and having his son write the books instead. A sentence fragment here and there is okay in my book when they are used for a purpose. But this book looks like it was barely edited and not copy edited at all.

I liked Sandford better when I didn't know where he stood on politics, or where his son Joshua did, for that matter.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
sion rodriguez y gibson
As one who has read everything to date by John Sandford, this Virgil Flowers spinoff was a major disappointment. It's time for Sandford to return "that f_ _ _ing Flowers" to his original role as occasional sidekick for Lucas Davenport in the Prey novels.

This thinly plotted venture, hardly an ADventure, is short on action and long on a sort of lesbian voyeurism. The "Rough Country" title should perhaps be replaced by the more appropriate "No Country for Straight Men". And if you haven't figured out whodunnit a hundred pages before the end, you just aren't paying attention. You could hardly be blamed for letting your mind wander while wading through this tedious Sandford misfire.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
amber
I have been a fan of John Sandford for years, and have read all of his books. This book is a BIG disappointment. I find it totally offensive. What made him think it was a good idea to set this novel at a lesbian resort, and then have a character refer to them as "rug munchers?" Also, I don't think he really knows how women talk. He has dialogue that is unbelievable, and also offensive. I am throwing this book in the trash after reading half of it. I usually pass on John Sanford's books to my local Good Will, but this one should go in the trash, because that is what it is. Please, Mr. Sandford, no more of this! Your other books are great. This one is not.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
rod dunsmore
On the one hand, the pages of this mystery spin-off of Sandford's popular Prey series do turn easily enough. On the other hand, it definitely has the feel of being an afterthought side project between Prey novels. It relies too much on entertaining dialog (which sometime succeeds, but not always) and titillation, and not enough on plot or plausibility.

Minnesota Bureau of Crimes detective Virgil Flowers makes up his own rules as he conducts a solo investigation of the murder of a lesbian advertising mogul at an upstate women's-only retreat. With the local police ostensibly all tied up searching for a missing 15 year-old, it is left to Flowers alone to investigate this high-profile murder. Which he does, making the occasional check-in phone call to his off-screen boss Lucas Davenport (of the Prey novels), by essentially ignoring all standard law-enforcement procedure and common sense. Although he does Mirandize a witness or two, basically he spends his days driving around asking the locals obtrusive questions without making any record of his interviews. To read about Flowers, you'd never guess that most cops spend half their time doing paperwork.

Then after putting in one of his six-hour days, he'll drop by the home of a suspect with a six-pack. He gets personally involved, in a number of different ways, with various people involved in the case. His actions would taint any real-life investigation beyond the hope of a prosecution. In comparison to the highly realistic style that dominates contemporary mystery fiction, this book reads more like a modern take on the amateur detective who ruled crime fiction 80 to 100 years ago.

I thought the resolution was the weakest part of the story. It's basically a cheat: there is a key sign to what is really going on visible to everyone, although in the story, only Flowers is able to spot it. Yet the reader is not (until late in the game) given an equal chance to see the obvious because it depends on just that, being able to actually see the characters. If this book were developed as a movie and cast accurately, it would be obvious to all viewers what had happened within five seconds. Yet the non-Flowers characters (and even Flowers himself, for several days and several more shootings) don't notice what's right in front of their eyes.

Admittedly there is plenty of other evidence pointing toward a highly suspicious character who turns out to be guilty, but the original murder would and should have been resolved long before any of that came out.

I mentioned titillation: the book is rampant with hot young lesbian and bisexual women (and the occasional straight, if married, woman), and this keeps hound dog Virgil pointed in the wrong direction much of the time. Lingering on the sex aspects of the quasi-lesbian resort, the promising young alt-country band made up of cute young things who'll do anyone with a pulse, and even the local bi CPA, definitely comes across as exploitative. And gratuitously so, as this part of the story has little if anything to do with its resolution.

Also annoying to me after a while was Flowers's (and therefore Sandford's) relentless trick of dropping the names and prominently flaunting the t-shirts of various trendy indie bands. It smacks of a desperate need for approval in author, character, or both. Unless of course, Sandford was trying to make an "ironic" statement about the sort of people who urgently need to demonstrate their independence from mainstream musical taste to total strangers. I don't think that's it, as Sandford has been prone to doing the same thing re Davenport.

Other than those false notes, the book is a good enough plane or beach read. But it doesn't have anything like the staying power of even the later Prey novels. If Sandford really wants to set up an eventual successor to the settled Davenport, I think someone a little more believable than Flowers would be a better choice. Davenport's eccentricities and his superiors' tolerance for them were based in part on Davenport's financial independence and in part in the 1980s' style of fiction being different than the 2010s'. I don't think in a CSI world you can have a freewheeler like Flowers just make it all up as he goes along and then argue that the successful ends justify any flaky means. Not when a more realistic end than an arrest and conviction would be: Case dismissed due to investigatory playfulness.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
kitty
I thought I'd save money purchasing downloaded books when I bought my Kindle. Why is the paperback price $9.99 and the kindle price $12.99? Why would anyone pay $3 more for a downloaded edition? It says price set by publisher. Since the publisher has decided to be so greedy, I'll probably pass on buying this book altogether. the store should also review their partnership with this publisher, they didn't do their loyal customers any good by making this deal.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
kirsten murphy
Here's the thing, the store. When it comes to recreational fiction, I have no need to add books to my library. So I can buy the hardcover and resell while it is a hot bestseller through the store at a net cost of $3-$5. The Kindle is more convenient, but there is no resale value to the books. Therefore, when the price of the book and the ebook are the same, I'll choose the hardback.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
jarkko laine
I agree that this Kindle price is more than what I expect to pay for a new Kindle release. Something needs to be done or people like me who paid a lot of money for a KindleDX will just go back to paperbacks and Kindles will not survive
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
larisa dumitrica
Update:Despite comments below I bought it - but the Hardcover copy
I think Mr Sandford is terrific. Only reason for this comment from a fan who will keep buying his books is that this plot was a little too weak. I like the series so much that I would like a little more effort in plotting next time. Still great read.

Kindle will not work with this price type. I join the earlier reviewer in being outraged!

(Apologies to John Sandford who always delivers enjoyable professional works which I never miss - I considered Kindle but this one I will buy in paper, as usual.)
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
holly bee
It was over a year ago that I first bitterly complained about a Kindle edition being priced over $9.99. Before I purchased my Kindle (when they were priced at $399) the the store people assured me that no book would ever be priced at over $9.99. When I complained to the store, they denied they had ever promised the $9.99 price point! I'm glad to see that others are finally getting mad at this. The only way this will change is that if every one of us refuses to buy any Kindle edition over $9.99, and then makes CEO Bezos and crew aware of our displeasure. I have personally advied several friends and family members to forgo the kindle purchase until the store makes good on their broken commitment. My small act of displeasure has cost them several thousand in sales, plus much more in negative remarks. If everyone who feels betrayed did this one small thing, we might make a difference.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
namita
I have two Kindles which I love because I could get the books more cheaply and more transportable but now you want to charge me $1.00 less and in some cases of new releases more than a print book for that privilege. I even purchased two for my media center and now I won't be able to afford to load the new books I thought would be best for this. I have been recommending your product on the premise that eventually it pays for itself in book savings --this is no longer true so I will not be recommending anymore.
Not a good business decision.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
paul solorzano
Is it just me or is there something fundamentally wrong with Kindle pricing? You SELL me a device at a pretty hefty price, but which is supposed to do away with the price of paper, hard cover, printing, and burning all that oil to ship it to me. Yet, you want to charge me LESS than a dollar off the price of a hardcover! Someone please explain to me slowly why I should buy a Kindle for I am clearly too old and feeble to comprehend this. I mean the only conclusion I can come to is that all that paper and artwork and printing costs and shipping, after all,cost less than a dollar per book and you've been ripping everybody off since who knows when.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
carlos gonzalez
The Virgil Flowers Series by John Sandford
I’d read all Sandford’s “Prey” novels then decided to order the most recently released Virgil Flowers one. That lead to my ordering all the rest of this series. After they’d all arrived, I put them in publication order. Beginning with the first of the series,
I began a John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers series reading marathon. If you’re a mystery/thriller fan you’ve probably read Sandford and know what to expect. Excellent character development, good descriptions of people and places, interesting story lines, plots with twists and turns, real life, although not for the sensitive to vulgarity, conversations and page-turning, have to see what happens next stories. Rather than get into the storyline of each book in the series, since so many other reviews have already done that, I think that pretty much says it all. The one thought I had after completing each one was…”How does he come up with all these different story lines?” If you like reading mystery/thriller books, I highly recommend John Sandford.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
manisha
I liked, but didn't love the book. Really liked previous Virgil books. I know this may sound petty, but i am from Iowa (near to Iowa City, Iowa). The city of Coralville,Ia as described in the book? So not the way it is. Especially the Coralville strip. It's a 6 lane highway, highly traveled, business area including numerous sports bars, (Go Hawks!) a large mall, many hotels, U of Iowa sports fields etc. There is no Swanson between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. (this may be North Liberty renamed?) Small details, maybe, but I like when authors research their books and I guess I expect them to be accurate. Oh well.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
alan mackenzie
I've read quite a few of John Sanford's books and enjoyed them very much so Rough Country took me totally by surprise. I'm a little over half way through the book but I don't think I'm going to finish it which is very unusual for me. Nothing is happening except Virgil Flowers is meeting a bunch of gay women as part of a murder investigation. I think Sanford thought the shock factor of talking about lesbians, bisexuals, threesomes, etc. would carry the day and he didn't need a plot. Plus, I found some of the references to lesbians very inappropriate. I'll give Sanford the benefit of the doubt that Rough Country was an anomaly and read him again but this was an absolutely terrible book.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
marco ferreira
The writing of these formulaic books has gotten sloppy over the past few years. It is clear to me that John Sandford has taken the James Patterson approach to writing by doing nothing more than writing the outlines and having his son write the books instead. A sentence fragment here and there is okay in my book when they are used for a purpose. But this book looks like it was barely edited and not copy edited at all.

I liked Sandford better when I didn't know where he stood on politics, or where his son Joshua did, for that matter.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
maria teodorescu
I have been a fan of John Sandford for years, and have read all of his books. This book is a BIG disappointment. I find it totally offensive. What made him think it was a good idea to set this novel at a lesbian resort, and then have a character refer to them as "rug munchers?" Also, I don't think he really knows how women talk. He has dialogue that is unbelievable, and also offensive. I am throwing this book in the trash after reading half of it. I usually pass on John Sanford's books to my local Good Will, but this one should go in the trash, because that is what it is. Please, Mr. Sandford, no more of this! Your other books are great. This one is not.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
christine laliberte
I thought I'd save money purchasing downloaded books when I bought my Kindle. Why is the paperback price $9.99 and the kindle price $12.99? Why would anyone pay $3 more for a downloaded edition? It says price set by publisher. Since the publisher has decided to be so greedy, I'll probably pass on buying this book altogether. the store should also review their partnership with this publisher, they didn't do their loyal customers any good by making this deal.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
normaw
Here's the thing, the store. When it comes to recreational fiction, I have no need to add books to my library. So I can buy the hardcover and resell while it is a hot bestseller through the store at a net cost of $3-$5. The Kindle is more convenient, but there is no resale value to the books. Therefore, when the price of the book and the ebook are the same, I'll choose the hardback.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
reetika
I agree that this Kindle price is more than what I expect to pay for a new Kindle release. Something needs to be done or people like me who paid a lot of money for a KindleDX will just go back to paperbacks and Kindles will not survive
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
cassandra moore
Update:Despite comments below I bought it - but the Hardcover copy
I think Mr Sandford is terrific. Only reason for this comment from a fan who will keep buying his books is that this plot was a little too weak. I like the series so much that I would like a little more effort in plotting next time. Still great read.

Kindle will not work with this price type. I join the earlier reviewer in being outraged!

(Apologies to John Sandford who always delivers enjoyable professional works which I never miss - I considered Kindle but this one I will buy in paper, as usual.)
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
amanda meuwissen
It was over a year ago that I first bitterly complained about a Kindle edition being priced over $9.99. Before I purchased my Kindle (when they were priced at $399) the the store people assured me that no book would ever be priced at over $9.99. When I complained to the store, they denied they had ever promised the $9.99 price point! I'm glad to see that others are finally getting mad at this. The only way this will change is that if every one of us refuses to buy any Kindle edition over $9.99, and then makes CEO Bezos and crew aware of our displeasure. I have personally advied several friends and family members to forgo the kindle purchase until the store makes good on their broken commitment. My small act of displeasure has cost them several thousand in sales, plus much more in negative remarks. If everyone who feels betrayed did this one small thing, we might make a difference.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
jen cross
I have two Kindles which I love because I could get the books more cheaply and more transportable but now you want to charge me $1.00 less and in some cases of new releases more than a print book for that privilege. I even purchased two for my media center and now I won't be able to afford to load the new books I thought would be best for this. I have been recommending your product on the premise that eventually it pays for itself in book savings --this is no longer true so I will not be recommending anymore.
Not a good business decision.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
marion stanton
Is it just me or is there something fundamentally wrong with Kindle pricing? You SELL me a device at a pretty hefty price, but which is supposed to do away with the price of paper, hard cover, printing, and burning all that oil to ship it to me. Yet, you want to charge me LESS than a dollar off the price of a hardcover! Someone please explain to me slowly why I should buy a Kindle for I am clearly too old and feeble to comprehend this. I mean the only conclusion I can come to is that all that paper and artwork and printing costs and shipping, after all,cost less than a dollar per book and you've been ripping everybody off since who knows when.
Please Rate Book 3), Rough Country (A Virgil Flowers Novel
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