Deep Freeze by John Sandford

Deep Freeze by John Sandford
Publisher: G.P Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Virgil knows the town of Trippton, Minnesota, a little too well. A few years back, he investigated the corrupt—and as it turned out, homicidal—local school board, and now the town’s back in view with more alarming news: A woman’s been found dead, frozen in a block of ice. There’s a possibility that it might be connected to a high school class of twenty years ago that has a mid-winter reunion coming up, and so, wrapping his coat a little tighter, Virgil begins to dig into twenty years’ worth of traumas, feuds, and bad blood. In the process, one thing becomes increasingly clear to him. It’s true what they say: High school is murder.

Virgil Flowers is back in the town of Trippton, Minnesota after a woman is found dead in the river – frozen into a block of ice. Many of the locals remember Virgil from a previous investigation he concluded in their town, but this time everything initially seems linked to a twenty-five-year high school reunion planning meeting. But as usual, Virgil’s case is complicate when the new governor also wants him to help a Private Investigator run down the source of some bootleg Barbie dolls – ones that have rather X-rated additions added on for adults only. As usual, can Virgil piece together exactly what’s going on while keeping himself out of some serious trouble?

I’ve been a big fan of John Sandford for many years now – enjoying all three of his main series, Kidd, Lucas Davenport as well as Virgil Flowers. This book can absolutely be read by itself, but I feel fans who know a number of the main characters will get a deeper level of enjoyment out of the antics and crossovers between the series.

One thing I always enjoy about the Virgil Flowers stories is there is usually an element of the absurd to them, whether it’s dog-napping rings, stealing animals from the zoo or – in this case – grown up amendments to bootleg Barbie and Ken dolls. I think it would be near impossible for anyone to read this book and not crack a smile, if not a few downright chuckles. Just the situations that seem to spiral out of control and the amusement Virgil and many of the other characters seem to use to embrace the crazy and just take it all in stride. I find it endearing and endlessly fun to read – and reread again later on.

I found the two main plots were very well woven and executed, Sandford really is a star when it comes to writing these and weaving things together without actually making any huge leaps or annoying “just happens to overlap”. Indeed, I enjoyed the fact the two cases remained distinct cases and they didn’t dovetail together towards the end of the story. Each case finished up on its own merit and I really enjoyed that.

I feel readers who pick this up fresh might enjoy a funny and well plotted murder mystery style novel set in the freezing cold, wintery Minnesota, but readers who have read at least a few of Sandford’s previous books will definitely enjoy reconnecting with Virgil and enjoy his latest antics. An excellent book and well worth having a look at.

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