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Dark of the Moon by John Sandford

Dark of the Moon (2007)

by John Sandford

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Virgil Flowers (1)

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Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
Having found my first foray into the fiction of John Sandford ((The Night Crew) unsatisfying, I thought I'd try this book, the first volume in his "Virgil Flowers" series. It was a disappointment. The writing is bad, the editing sloppy, the plot ridiculous, and the characters unappealing.

The protagonist is detective Virgil Flowers with Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Virgil is a 30-something horndog, a product of 3 divorces in 5 years. He has long blonde hair and never dresses in anything but jeans and a T shirt that bears the logo of some rock band from the 80s. He sizes up every woman he meets as a potential sexual partner, with particular attention to their buttocks. His locker room talk -- while not as disgusting as the current US President’s – will appeal to a limited demographic. (He describes one passing woman, to her own brother, as having “the fourth-best ass in the state of Minnesota", and he can barely contain himself about how badly he wants to have sex with her – which of course, he eventually does, at which point he upgrades his assessment of her "ass" to “the third best” in the state). Virgil “thinks about God” each night but not in any conventional sense; he “thinks about God's sense of humor and the fact that he made rules that he himself couldn't bend.” Clearly a deep thinker.

Those are Virgil's distinguishing features; and every few chapters or so we're reminded of them: that he's putting on a rock band T shirt, that he's ogling some woman's buttocks; and that when he goes to bed its either with some woman or he lays there and thinks about “God”. One other thing is that he writes fiction on the side, as a way of thinking about the facts in some case he's involved with . Problem is that he gives his main character (a stand-in for himself) the name “Homer”. Each mention of "Homer" will make most of his readers think immediately of the TV cartoon “The Simpsons” -- this, notwithstanding the fact that Virgil describes Homer as "terrifically good-look, and certainly well hung", a feature "which might possibly come up later in the story." (Virgil "smiled in the glow of the computer screen, thinking about it.") A reader sensitive about offensive language won't get far in this book. One character says that they're going to be on a suspect "like yellow on a Chinaman." Perhaps some people still talk that way in small-town Minnesota, but readers aren't under any obligation to read casual racism for relaxation.

As for plot, Virgil’s after a serial killer in the little town of Bluestem. The killer shoots out the eyes of his victims and props them up facing the east, for reasons that are never explained. The killings clearly have something to do with events of three or more decades earlier, since each of the victims is tied to a particular set of events that happened at that time, something involving a “moon man”. The alert reader will figure out the perpetrator without much trouble, despite the red herrings that Sandson strews along the way – but they aren’t likely to find the events any grounds for the bizarre serial killings, much less the unexplained, ritualistic ways the bodies are left.

The alert reader also is likely to find the sloppy writing and editing annoying. At the beginning of Chapter 9, Virgil gets up "shortly after 5:30," does 50 push ups, 50 sit ups, gets dressed, leaves the house and when his watch says 6:15, he knows that he's run 5 miles. (He supposedly does all that in 40 minutes. Does he shower and change clothes before going to work? Apparently not.) In Chapter 2, he finds a gun in a dumpster that had been left behind over Memorial Day weekend, “June 30th” (That holiday of course is at the end of May). Wow, some detective.. There are two characters, Big Curly and Little Curly. In one scene (p. 42), Virgil is talking to Big Curley; and suddenly, Little Curley has a line of dialogue. On p. 117, Russell Schmidt is about to be murdered; he sees car headlights and wonders if its news about his son or one of his daughters. A few pages later, Virgil’s viewing the body and asks about the family. He’s told that Russell has no children. This sort of thing is unbelievably sloppy, on the part of the author and his editor. “Dark of the Moon” is badly written and not very interesting. It's hard to imagine many readers caring about the characters since clearly the author did not care enough to proofread his writing. In my judgment, a rating of 1.5 stars is plenty.

PS. Several reviewers at Amazon point out that this book was "co-written" with (or by) another author. The situation smacks of the James Patterson franchise. If Sandford didn't actually write this book, that might explain its poor quality, but it also is a sad commentary on the Sandford "brand". ( )
2 vote danielx | Dec 25, 2018 |

Sanders is perhaps best known as the author of the Lucas Davenport mystery series set in Minneapolis / St Paul MN. Now he gives one of Davenport’s colleagues his own series. Virgil Flowers has been in the Army and the St Paul Police. Now Davenport has recruited him to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, promising him “We’ll only give you the hard stuff.”

This case begins as Flowers heads to the western end of the state, to help the local police solve a grisly murder. As he approaches the town, he notices a glow in the sky which can only be a fire. In fact, it is the mansion of a well-known man – Bill Judd – which has erupted in flames, with Judd trapped inside. Not too many people are sorry to see Judd go; years ago he perpetrated a scam involving Jerusalem artichokes which resulted in many farmers losing their land, and one or more suicide. Flowers is curious but doesn’t begin to notice a pattern until yet another murder happens.

Sandford crafts a tight plot with several twists and turns, plenty of suspects, a little love interest, and a skilled, likeable lead detective. I like the way Flowers pieces together the puzzle. He’s deliberate and cautious, but aggressive when questioning a reluctant witness. He’s an astute observer and is careful when drawing conclusions, keeping his theories to himself until he is more certain both of the person he might confide in, and of who the culprit is. If he has a fault, it’s that Virgil is a bit more of a ladies’ man than I like, but he’s always honest about his intentions and women seem to willingly go along for the ride. The supporting characters seem to be a good match for Flowers; they hold their own and support/challenge him as they see fit (including the women). ( )
  BookConcierge | Oct 19, 2018 |
Virgil Flowers joined the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in the small town of Bluestem, where everybody knows everybody. A house explodes into flames, its owner trapped inside. Three weeks before, there'd been 2 other murders - a doctor and his wife. There hadn't been a murder in Bluestem in years - and now, suddenly, three? Flowers knows two things: this isn't a coincidence, and this has to be personal.

This was a complex story in a small town with many characters who usually know each other’s business. Virgil was likeable, smart and didn’t overlook anyone as a suspect, including those closest to him. Besides an interesting investigation, there was action at times, a few surprises and a bit of humor. Overall, an enjoyable read. ( )
  gaylebutz | Jul 15, 2018 |
I read one of John Sandford's "Prey" books recently, and I loved it! A friend told me his Virgil Flowers series is also good. Good? It's fantastic! I loved this mystery, and I honestly did not see "whodunnit" until just when Flowers discovered it. Speaking of "that f**king Flowers," I would love to meet this guy in real life! Long hair, writer AND detective, wearer of jeans and concert/band t-shirts--sounds fabulous!!!

I'm just getting into mysteries, and both this series and the "Prey" series of Sandford's can be considered on my 'to read' list!!! ( )
  trayceetee | Apr 9, 2018 |
Virgil Flowers of Minnesota's BCA is called in to get to the bottom of the murder of an elderly couple in a small town. As he arrives, another murder by arson is taking place, and subsequently another elderly couple is murdered. Flowers and the local sheriff, a high school acquaintance and sports rival, work together to try to sort out the common threads that tie the murders together, most likely carried over from the past. There are many suspects in Virgil's mind, including the sheriff and his sister, who has become a romantic interest.. ( )
  sleahey | Oct 31, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Sandfordprimary authorall editionscalculated
Conger, EricNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jansen in de Wal, MartinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Benjamin Curtis

Happy Birthday, 2007
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Six garbage bags full of red cedar shavings, purchased two at a time for a dollar a bag, at midnight, at the self-serve shed at Dunstead & Daughter Custom Furniture, serving your fine cabinetry needs since 1986.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Virgil Flowers
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399154779, Hardcover)

Three murders in just as many weeks in the quiet rural town of Bluestream is unheard of. It’s also no coincidence. And it’s not over: Detective Virgil Flowers is about to be pulled into the middle of a killer’s violent personal vendetta.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:41 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Three murders in just as many weeks in the quiet rural town of Bluestream is unheard of. It's also no coincidence. And it's not over: Detective Virgil Flowers is about to be pulled into the middle of a killers violent personal vendetta.

» see all 11 descriptions

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