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by John Sandford
GP Putnam's Sons, October 2016
392 pages
ISBN: 0399168915

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Prolific crime fiction writer John Sandford’s ninth Virgil Flowers novel ESCAPE CLAUSE will certainly satisfy readers who like a clear strong police procedural. Virgil is an excellent investigator, very good at figuring out the next step in the process and a very good reader of people, especially those with criminal intent.

The opening scene of ESCAPE CLAUSE describes the heist of two endangered Amur Tigers from the Minnesota Zoo in the dark of night. And we soon learn that they are going to be killed and processed into Chinese medicine by Dr Winston Peck VI and two Armenians, Hamlet and Hayk.

Enter Virgil Flowers, now assigned to find the tigers before they come to any harm. Alternating chapters between Flowers’ investigation and the kidnappers' efforts to make a killing in the traditional Chinese medicine market, Sandford is able to build suspense while allowing the reader to enjoy the steps of the investigation. Piece by piece, Flowers and his crew get closer and closer to cracking the case.

There’s a subplot involving Flowers’ girlfriend, her sister and a part time priest (go figure) but most of the action involves Peck and the tigers. When the time comes to get Peck, now with a serious case of Xanax addiction, Flowers finds himself in a shoot-out with the aforementioned Peck. Unfortunately he has dropped his gun and can’t find it in the dark. Apparently Flowers’ Achilles heel seems to be his awkward ways around firearms.

But he is clever and very lucky to find a way to escape both the villain and the claws. Not so much luck for Peck.

ESCAPE CLAUSE is an accomplished crime novel: detailed investigation, great gunfights, entertaining characters and a punishment that certainly fits the crime.

§ Susan Hoover is a playwright, independent producer and retired college English teacher. She lives in Nova Scotia.

Reviewed by Susan Hoover, October 2016

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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