town that has a mad bomber on the loose. The dead and injured are mounting and Lucas
Davenport, Flower's boss, gives Virgil a week to close the case.
It appears that someone is opposed to the idea that a WalMart-like store (PyeMart) open in
their town. There is speculation that several of the city council's votes have been bought
to favor the re-zoning and building project. Even the billionaire Pye has been
unsuccessfully targeted. Working alongside a team of federal bomb experts, Virgil becomes
despondent with the lack of evidence and growing list of suspects.
They know what the bombs are comprised of and from where the materials were stolen. Virgil
decides to use a marketing tool and mass produce a survey that he has hand-delivered to
selective townfolks. The survey asks for names of neighbors that might be guilty. Virgil's
plan is to collect the completed surveys and tally the results. He will then interview the
names of those most offered as likely candidates in hopes of finding his killer.
This is the 5th installment in Sandford's Virgil Flowers series. Virgil remains a maverick.
He still dresses in faded t-shirts, blue jeans, and cowboy boots. His hair is still long and
disheveled. He still hates to wear a sidearm and tows his fishing boat behind his pickup to
every crime scene in hopes of getting some "reel time" alone with his thoughts. He's a ladies
man who is a 3-time loser at the altar. Still, he is a lovable character that is enviable and
Pam Tibbs, the dubious deputy, and Hack are once again on the hunt for the machine-gun-toting-serial-killer, Preacher Jack Collins. The Preacher stumbles upon a government official, Noie Barnum, who was kidnapped and tortured by a crazed Mexican assassin called Krill. Collins adopts Barnum and offers a strange sort of sanctuary towards the escapee. Barnum has information in his head that makes him also the target of the Russian mob and a rogue U.S. Congressman's hit team.
If that isn't enough characters, add a Chinese female former CIA agent, who has ties back to the Cambodian Khmer Rouge during the Vietnam Conflict. Anton Ling, nicknamed "La Magdalena" by the refugees she harbors on her ranch, resembles Hack's late wife. Tibbs senses something sensual stirring deep inside Hack and takes an immediate dislike to Ling.
All the players are desperate to bring closure to their pursuits and this helps make the story fast-paced, not unlike a fire drill.
Usually a character-rich story with several subplots can get confusing. Burke's tale unfolds effortlessly.
Judy grew up in Bavaria because of her military father being stationed there. Her mother was a neurotic and exacting woman who eventually had to be hospitalized. Judy's feelings about her childhood in Germany influenced her choice in becoming a Waldorf school teacher. Waldorf schools celebrate they beauty of childhood and fantasy, encouraging even the teachers to believe in gnomes. Nothing damaging is allowed at a Waldorf school. There is no candy, no t-shirts with Disney characters on them, nothing that could ruin the natural process of growth. In this idealized setting, Judy finds herself estranged from her husband whom she discovers is hooked on pain pills. She is in a state of shock over losing her best friend to cancer, and her children are drifting away. Alone and frustrated, she finds herself attracted to one of her son's friends. Zachary is only sixteen, yet Judy engages in a physical relationship with the boy who is a student at the very school where she teaches.
Their forbidden romance cannot end well, but the culmination of Julia's punishment is a taut, intense story. This is a difficult topic to read about, but the author manages to balance the raw passion with modesty of language. I was particularly interested in the layering of symbolism of the Bavarian folk tales and Catholicism juxtaposed with our contemporary values and social mores. This is a dark, primal, and often disturbing love story.