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Tom Chaney: I Started to Talk About John Sandford

Of Writers And Their Books: I Started to Talk About John Sandford. Tom says because he has fun, so can the reader. If you don't know John Sandford, try him. This column first appeared 7 February 2010.
The next earlier Tom Chaney column: Heavenly Music

By Tom Chaney

I Started to Talk About John Sandford

A couple of weeks ago I started to write about the new John Sandford novel Rough Country with its detective Virgil Flowers.

I got distracted by Sandford's reference to a musky fishing tournament wherein he promises to make "musky fishing out to be a much less stupid activity than it actually is."

This led me to think of a fishing trip to Canada which I remembered as a musky fishing trip which was actually a trip fishing for northern pike which are close kin to musky and about a kid who caught a pike using walleye for bait.

I never got to the novel.

Isn't maturity wonderful?

I can now go down many roads at the same time, altogether, and when I wind up at different places than where I started go, looking for stuff which turns out to be other stuff in other wheres, it doesn't really matter, because I have more than likely forgot where I was headed to begin with, and certainly what I was looking for.

This, of course, brings me back to Rough Country.

Sandford, pen name for John Camp, has delighted me with some two dozen plus novels including the Prey novels from Rules of Prey to Wicked Prey, featuring Lucas Davenport.

If you don't know the books, it will help to know that Lucas Davenport is a filthy rich cop plucked from day-to-day detective work to form a Minnesota-wide detective bureau. Virgil Flowers works for Davenport.

Flowers is not terribly upset to be rescued from a musky tournament and sent to a resort in the lake studded wiles of northern Minnesota to investigate the sniper death of a high-powered female executive of a Minneapolis advertising agency.

Erica McDill has gone to the resort to recharge her batteries before taking on a rough and tumble re-do of her agency. She is shot by a sniper while she paddles her fifteen foot, Native Watercraft canoe-kayak hybrid on a creek that feeds the lake near the resort.

Davenport snatches Virgil Flowers off vacation at the musky tournament to solve the case. Which case, of course, gets infinitely more complicated as the investigation proceeds.

Is the murder related to Erica's job and the possible demotion of close associates? Is it related to someone at the mostly women occupied resort which lodge has drifted over the years to a lesbian oriented retreat? Or does it match up with the year-old unsolved murder in Iowa of a former guest at the lodge?

So, Rough Country becomes a twisted, fascinating story entwined with money and murder; country music and a network of Sapphic relationships.

Don't think I want to try to untangle it. I just want to make it clear that John Sandford appears to be having great fun at writing -- whether with Lucas Davenport, Virgil Flowers or the hero of his Kidd novels.

Because he has fun, so can the reader. If you don't know John Sandford, try him.

His books are a right smart less stupid than musky fishing.

Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at
Box 73 / 111 Water Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749
Email: Tom Chaney -

This story was posted on 2015-02-08 05:03:43
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