Escape Clause by John Sandford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I received a free advance copy of this from NetGalley for review.
I’ve heard of having a tiger by the tail, but this is ridiculous.
Two rare tigers have been stolen from a Minnesota zoo, and everyone fears that they have been taken to have their organs and bones harvested for ‘medicines’ that will fetch a fortune on the black market. Quirky cop Virgil Flowers is on the case, but can he find the tigers before they’re killed and turned into expensive placebos for assholes?
As usual in a John Sandford novel we get the parallel story of what the bad guys are up to as Virgil hunts them, and things escalate with murder becoming part of the effort to cover their tracks. Virgil is also contending with a serious distraction caused by the sister of his girlfriend getting on the bad side of some thugs when she tries to expose the abuse of illegal immigrant workers at a factory.
As I’ve noted in my other reviews of Sandford books I consider him the best at the beach/airport reads that are always on the best sellers lists. This isn’t ground breaking thriller/crime fiction, but it is exceptionally well done thriller/crime fiction. We get villains that aren’t just the standard Insane McGenius serial killers. (Although Sandford did a few of those back when they weren’t quite such a cliché.) The plotting is tight, the action is great, there’s a real sense of tension and momentum built up, and he’s developed a collection of likable characters who populate both this series and the Prey books. Virgil continues to be an interesting hero who sports vintage rock band t-shirts and frequently forgets to get his gun out of his truck. Overall, Sandford's books are incredibly entertaining without feeling like they’re making you dumber by reading them.
So why only three stars here? Frankly, this one hit a personal pet peeve of mine. I just do not enjoy reading about animals in jeopardy or being mistreated. So I was constantly stressing about the fate of the tigers much more than I do when its human characters in trouble. What? Don’t judge me.
That’s the only factor that kept me from calling it another 4 star thriller from Sandford that meets his usual standard of quality page-turning.
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