Mad River

An intelligently written police procedural with a host of eccentric characters that will keep you glued to the pages.

Mad River by John Sandford (Putnum Adult)

This novel, the latest John Sandford, is very Bonnie ‘n Clyde, except that the loved-up couple also has a moronic sidekick. All three of the dead-end teens are absolutely crackers and they’re killing people all over rural Minnesota, just for the hell of it.

But BCA agent Virgil Flowers, one of my top 5 literary heroes (largely because he’s also a nut job; imagine a poetry-writing Matt McConaughey in a rock ‘n roll T-shirt, without a gun) is on the job.

And trying to out-run a host of moronic cops.

Here’s a quick taste:

Jimmy said, "Shit," looked down at Ag, who'd gotten to her knees. He could have changed his mind, then, and everything that came after would have been different. He hesitated, then pointed the gun at Ag's head and pulled the trigger.

The Smith flashed in the dark, Ag went down, and Jimmy ran after the others.

Tom and Becky had already gone through the front door, which stood open to the streetlight, and as Jimmy crossed the front porch he heard the other sister scream, "Mama, mama. He killed Ag, he killed Ag."


If you’re a Sandfordian, read Mad River. If you’re not, you will be. So start today.

Keep in mind, while doing so, that the killing-spree-by-mad-teens theme has been done before, but this author is so very, very good that it’ll feel like a fresh, new topic.

What’s more, this isn’t a whodunit. It’s an intelligently written police procedural with a host of eccentric characters. As one reviewer puts it, Sandford’s novels aren’t “mysteries in the sense that there is anything for us to figure out…

Crimes are solved through interviews, and require legwork and street smarts rather than science and tech. The appeal [is in] watching the protagonist close in on the criminals.”

Especially when he brings in a prison full of convicts as ‘consultants’. Genius.

Read more of Tiffany's reviews on her book blog.

Keen on reading this book? Buy your copy now.

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