I’ve been a fan of John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport novels for years, since Rules of Prey first came out. The writer’s real name is John Camp, and he’s an award-winning newspaper reporter. Sandford writes in a clipped, full-ahead narrative that is easy and intriguing to read. He’s so casual about his storytelling that most readers don’t realize how many layers of character and action they’re picking up at one time.
Davenport has become iconic to a degree. There’s nothing he hasn’t faced, and readers don’t tend to worry about him as much as they could. However, Sandford creates a new character in Dark of the Moon.
Virgil Flowers works for Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the same as Lucas Davenport. In fact, Davenport is Virgil’s boss. At least, as much as Virgil’s willing to admit that he has a boss. Virgil tends to be a free spirit and innocent, though he’s got a trail of ex-wives and girlfriends in his wake. In fact, he’s a nice guy as well, which is why all the ex-romantic interests tend to enjoy his company in spite of how things worked out. Davenport has had real issues with women, but Virgil just seems to like -- and be liked by -- all of them.
When he’s on the job, Virgil tends to wear rock and roll concert tee shirts, and he likes all kinds of music – even hurdy-gurdy. I liked that about him because I’m the same way about my superhero tee shirts. I felt like I knew Virgil from the very first time he stepped onto the page. Davenport is harder to get to know, and I don’t really want to think how he thinks about the world.
But Virgil Flowers? He’s a combination of a lot of guys I’ve known all my life. At his core, he’s a fun-loving guy, and the detective/investigator biz just kind of wraps around that. Virgil is smart, but not so smart that the reader can’t keep up. In fact, he often takes himself to task for not being just a little more clever.