SHOCK WAVE by John Sandford


Email this review


A methodical bomber gives Virgil Flowers a welcome chance to recover from his atypically bombastic last outing (Bad Blood, 2010, etc.).

Three days before his 70th birthday, billionaire Willard Pye and his board of directors are one room away from an explosion that rocks his boardroom outside Grand Rapids and kills Angela (Jelly) Brown, his executive assistant. Another blast follows with indecent haste, killing a construction superintendent at the site planned for a new PyeMart in Butternut Falls, Minn. The second bombing brings out the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in the person of Virgil Flowers, who assures the disgruntled Pye that he expects to clear the case within a week. “One week and I kiss his ass,” Pye tells Marie Chapman, his high-priced amanuensis. But a week doesn’t look like nearly long enough for a case this complex. Lots of townsfolk in Butternut Falls are against the new megastore. The Cold Stream Fishers, fearing that a pristine trout stream will be fouled, are especially militant. And Despite Pye’s denials, it looks as if a PyeMart expediter has bribed Mayor Geraldine Gore and at least three city councilmen into supporting the highly divisive project. Virgil networks, invites more than 100 locals to make up lists of potential bombers and wonders whether his faltering long-distance relationship with Warren Count Sheriff Lee Coakley is strong enough to keep him safe from Marie Chapman and other indigenous temptresses. The bomber, meanwhile, is moving ahead with a deep-laid plan, setting off one explosive device after another in order to make some kind of statement, mislead Virgil and cover his tracks.

The tale drags at times, but the mystification and detection are authentic and the solution surprisingly clever. Virgil fully deserves to have Willard Pye kiss his ass.


Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-399-15769-1
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2011


FictionNIGHTWOODS by Charles Frazier
by Charles Frazier
FictionED KING by David Guterson
by David Guterson
FictionTHE FAVORED QUEEN by Carolly Erickson
by Carolly Erickson
FictionEVERY THIRD THOUGHT by John Barth
by John Barth
FictionNIGHTWOODS by Charles Frazier
by Charles Frazier
Kirkus Interview
John Sandford
author of SATURN RUN
October 6, 2015

Saturn Run, John Sandford’s new novel, is quite a departure for the bestselling thriller writer, who sets aside his Lucas Davenport crime franchise (Gathering Prey, 2015, etc.) and partners with photographer and sci-fi buff Ctein to leave Earth’s gravitational field for the rings of Saturn. The year is 2066. A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope—something is approaching Saturn, and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate; spaceships do. A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: whatever built that ship is at least 100 years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete. A conclusion the Chinese definitely agree with when they find out. The race is on. “James Bond meets Tom Swift, with the last word reserved not for extraterrestrial encounters but for international piracy, state secrets, and a spot of satisfyingly underhanded political pressure,” our reviewer writes. View video >


FictionSATURN RUN by John Sandford
by John Sandford
MysteryGATHERING PREY by John Sandford
by John Sandford
FictionDEADLINE by John Sandford
by John Sandford


FictionONCE IN, NEVER OUT by Dan Mahoney
by Dan Mahoney
FictionGUILT by G.H. Ephron
by G.H. Ephron
by Tom Walker