Virgil Flowers and the forces of Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension battle trigger-happy Bare County Sheriff Lewis Duke in pursuit of a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde.
Tom McCall and Becky Welsh think that Jimmy Sharp has led them to Dr. John O’Leary’s home to relieve Marsha O’Leary of a diamond necklace she recently showed off around town. No sooner have they broken in, however, than Jimmy shoots the O’Learys’ oldest daughter, Agatha Murphy, without getting the necklace. In their haste to exit, Jimmy shoots Emmett Williams for his brother-in-law’s Dodge Charger, and their murder spree has begun. First they clear the decks by killing Jimmy’s father and Becky’s parents; then they murder a McDonald’s owner and his wife for some traveling money; then, when a bank robbery goes bad, they kill a Bare County deputy. Called in to the first murder scene, Virgil alertly realizes that Jimmy aimed for the one and only O’Leary window he could easily get through and wonders if Agatha’s murder was something other than a panicky reaction—something like a murder-for-hire arranged by Agatha’s estranged husband, smarmy insurance salesman Dick Murphy. As Virgil, who wants to talk the killers in, tilts with Duke, who wants to shoot them down on sight, Sandford explores the unstable dynamics among the three fugitives and raises questions about how any of the easily identified culprits can ever be brought to justice.
None of these minor complications, though, are enough to raise Virgil’s sixth (Shock Wave, 2011, etc.) much above the level of a highly competent but routine manhunt.