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Escape Clause (A Virgil Flowers Novel) by John Sandford

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Escape ClauseQuite a story again. This time Virgil Flowers gets involved with not only some dudes who steal tigers from a Minnesota zoo but he is also trying to find out who beat up Frankie, his current girlfriend.

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It all starts when Virgil and Frankie are swimming in the lake on Frankie’s place when Sparkle and her new boyfriend, Rev. Bill come along and pile into the pool with them. (As a side note Rev. Bill works 9 months as a priest and then 3 months as a bartender. Sandford is good at rigging up stuff like that). Turns out that Sparkel is in the area to do some digging into a local manufacturing plant that is hiring Mexicans in an uncanny and illegal way. She is going to do the investigating for her dissertation that is required for her degree.

Anyway while they are enjoying the swim someone happens to steal two Amtur Tigers from the local zoo and Virgil’s boss is on Virgil immediately to get into solving that case. Somehow this type of Tiger is highly valuable as a specialty type of medicine that is used extensively in the Far East. The animals would either have to be moved to the West Coast or perhaps killed and turned into the medications desired right there in Minnesota.

Either way the state of Minnesota and all the local governments are very much interested in catching the thieves and hopefully with the animals still unharmed.

Virgil, being one of the high ranking members of the Minnesota BCA, is always pulled into these types of crimes as has been seen in other Sandford novels.

The story gets moving along fairly quickly as the main man in the thievery hires two brothers to help him do the job. The three will draw a very large amount of money for the delivered tiger products to a couple of Oriental folks from California. But as usually happens in any good Virgil Flowers story other bubbles burst and not only are people being chased all over but without a doubt some of them will be killed. The killings are usually done by members of the offending gang and not necessarily by Virgil or his crew. And Escape Clause is no exception to the rule.

However this one gets a bit more involved as Frankie does in fact get beaten up by what turns out to be bad folks hunting for her sister who has been “spying” on happenings in the goings-on in the factory.

Luckily, as usual, Virgil gets help not only from inside his own crew of law enforcement personnel but also from an outside source who begins working on the case involving Frankie but ends up helping Virgil with the tiger thieves. Just the way this one works out it is a pretty safe bet that the one outside source police officer who is a nice looking lady and tough to boot will show up in future stories. Virgil likes women especially those who not only are able to stand up for themselves but are also likely to cuddle up once in a while with their man!

Overall a good read with quite a bit of shoot-em-up and still quite a bit of comical things happening all the while. Escape Clause is a good escape from reality while giving the reader something to keep his interests in crime, laughter, and loving up! And without a lot of profanity or detailed sex. Just good reading.

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