Putnam, Sep 2008, $26.95
The Shooter killed Charles Utrecht, who put up no resistance because he felt strongly that though he did one bad thing in life three decades ago and paid for it since, he deserved to die. His body was found with a lemon in his mouth. Bobby Sanderson walks his dog on the same path every night; the Shooter forces him to give up the names of his associates from an incident many years ago before they kill him. Like Utrecht he is found with a lemon in his mouth and posed by the Veteran’s Memorial.
Lucas Davenport, back with the BCA, assigns the case to Virgil Flowers. Sanderson’s girlfriend tells Virgil that Bobby was in a heated argument twp people after he went to a Viet Nam meeting. Slowly, Virgil begins to put together who is involved in this Minnesota killing spree and why as more men are murdered execution style. He must find which men on this veteran’s lost are the killers before they can kill them.
With homage to the classic Christie tale and to a degree the movie the List of Adrian Messenger, John Sandford has created a terrific lead character in thirty something Virgil, a free spirited, dedicated and loyal person (see DARK OF THE MOON). His boss Lucas mentors Virgil, whom he sees as himself when he was a hot shot with all the answers early in his police career (see the “Prey” series). The story line is loaded with red herrings, nice twists, and the list in which six need killing but which six remains just out of reach. HEAT LIGHTNING is an engaging and enthralling Minnesota police procedural.