After reading the last Lucas Davenport “Prey” novel by John Sanford, I swore I’d never read another of his books. What can I say? I’m weak – and desperate. There just isn’t that much good reading out there, so when I saw “Rough County” I decided to take a chance. It’s good!
I believe Sanford made the right decision when he spun Virgil Flowers off from the crew in the Davenport books. Lucas Davenport has become domesticated and, well, boring. Virgil, on the other hand, is young, smart, surfer-boy cute and a good cop. He drives a truck with his aluminum boat hooked onto the back, just in case he decides to go fishing, and frequently misplaces his gun. He’s a babe-magnate which makes this story really fun. It’s about a murder that occurs at an all woman lodge in northern Minnesota, and many of the woman are Lesbians.
Poor Virgil is on vacation out fishing with his buddy, Johnson Johnson (really!) when Davenport calls and asks him to cut his vacation short to investigate a murder at Eagle’s Nest. A woman was out paddling around the lake and someone shot her in the head. Virgil starts investigating and runs into more than one suspect. The dead woman, Erica, had a brief dalliance with Wendy, the lead singer in an all girl band. Berni, aka Raven, Wendy’s main girlfriend wasn’t too happy to hear that bit of news. Virgil puts her on the list of suspects. Then there’s Ruth, Erica’s life partner. Did she know about the hanky-panky at the lodge? The list of suspects grows long and interesting.
The beginning of the book is fast-paced and very funny. Sanford has a knack for creating colorful, but believable characters. By the middle, I knew who the killer was and was pretty sure of the big plot twist. Toward the end, the pace slowed down – way down until by page 350, I was skimming. Too much detail, obvious filler. I know the book would have been a better, tighter book with fewer pages. I do have one other picky. One of the key characters was Wendy’s father who’s name is Slibe. Now, I have no clue how to pronounce this name – one word SLIBE or two SLI-BE? Therefore, every time I came upon this name, and it was frequent, I stopped to try and figure out the pronunciation! As an author you do NOT want to do that because every time you stop a reader, there’s a possibility he/she won’t start again!
All in all, I enjoyed the book partly because I grew up in Minnesota and am a little familiar with the territory and characters. “Rough Country” is a fast read in spite of its length and I do recommend it.