Book Review: “Escape Clause” by John Sandford

Published in 2016, this is the newest Virgil Flowers novel. If you haven’t read any of the other books about this character, don’t worry. You’ll get to know him quickly. This is only the second book I’ve read with Virgil and I already feel like he’s an old friend. And he has a sense of humor, too.

In this story, Virgil, a detective with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension or BCA, is assigned the case of two rare Amur tigers, stolen from the Minnesota Zoo. He has few clues and only through patient detective work does he uncover more. Because the tigers are so rare, he knows that they can’t be sold without detection, but they could be killed and their body parts sold for medicinal purposes, especially Chinese medicine. There’s only a short window of time before this happens so he has to move fast before anything happens. Unfortunately, he can’t get much help from his fellow detectives as most are tied up protecting candidates campaigning at the State Fair so most of his work is done on his own.

I liked how the investigation develops from the theft of two tigers and expands into murder, arson, and assault. The progression is logical and at the same time irrational as the prime suspect digs himself a deeper grave. In addition, the author spent a considerable amount of time researching Chinese medicine and wove it into the story so it made sense and without overwhelming the reader with details.

The book’s an easy read and moves briskly. I enjoyed it.

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