Mad River by John Sanford


During a poorly planned robbery, a store clerk is left dead.  Now the three Minnesota teens, Jimmy Sharp, Becky Welsh, and Tom McCall try again and their second victim dies in a car heist during the getaway.  With two murders under their belt, the teens sense of fear of the unknown has reached such a  level it is like an adrenaline rush.  They decide as long as they have gone this far, they might as well settle some old personal hurts. 

And the crime spree begins.

When Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Virgil Flowers comes on the scene, he walks into a case that is already a hot mess.  The teens have so far avoided getting caught leaving a wake of destruction.  While they seem to have no morals, they are not dumb.  Virgil is put in charge of the case but it is like herding cats when you try to get all the different areas of the law to play nice together.  While Virgil works to bringing in the kids alive, that is not a shared feeling throughout the investigation. 

Virgil eventually is able to make contact with one of the teens who is having second thoughts about the plans.  Now Flowers is trying to get to the teens to get them out of this mess alive, before the other arms of the law get to them first.

Hot mess is a great way to describe this one.  I think this is my first John Sanford and I was surprised at the raw bluntness of the book…. harsh words, insane and graphic acts of crime, fast paced action…  you open this read and you are thrust head long into the middle of the action and be careful not to get hit by the blood splatter. 


I enjoyed John Sanford’s writing, and his characters even if he wrote some without a soul or a conscience.  Creepy characters are not a deal breaker for me, kids with no sense of right and wrong hit a gray area for me.  I did however like Virgil Flowers, described as an aging hippy type, log hair, flowered shirts…  he somehow alone leveled this read out bu his sense of humor and his battle against his upbringing by his Pastor Father who has given Virgil an underlying faith that even against his will, curbs his decisions.

I personally don’t think I will seek out any more of the Virgil Flowers novels, I would however like to take another look at John Sanford and see what else this great author writes.

7 thoughts on “Mad River by John Sanford

  1. I feel that way about the Lucas Davenport books. They are way too scary (crimes against women) for me and they make me afraid of the dark all over again.

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