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Heat Lightning    by John Sandford order for
Heat Lightning
by John Sandford
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

It all begins with the murders of a couple of small town guys, Vietnam vets who attend the same veteran meetings. Each man has a lemon stuffed in his mouth, something that none of the local investigators has ever seen before. Organized crime? Nobody knows for sure. Lucas Davenport is too busy setting up security for an upcoming political convention to handle the case so he rousts agent Virgil Flowers out of bed. Flowers' investigation soon ties the victims together and leads him to question a 1960's radical named Mead Sinclair, who claims to know nothing about the victims but is a fountain of information when it comes to Vietnamese culture. He's heard rumours that Vietnamese prisoners' mouths were stuffed with a lemon before execution.

With pressure mounting from his boss and the media, Virgil works the murders harder. He's got an odd feeling that the body count will continue to rise. When an on-the-run friend of the murdered men is finally apprehended, Virgil pulls out all stops to keep the man safe. But sometimes the best-laid witness protection plan gets shot all to hell. The fallout offers Virgil the one solid lead he needs to start putting together a real case. But as he closes in on the killers, they also set their sites on Virgil and his team.

Sandford hits the mark again in Heat Lightning, second in his Prey spin-off series that features laid-back BCA agent Virgil Flowers. Some might compare the investigator to a younger incarnation of his boss, Lucas Davenport, but Flowers is very definitely his own man with his own unique investigative style. He also has a unique style with the ladies - the majority of whom happen to be his ex-wives. Not only has Sandford dreamed up another marvellously elaborate plotline here, he also begins peeling away interesting layers to Virgil's character and mindset - which bodes well for at least a few more puzzling cases for Flowers to unravel. When it comes to gritty, edge-of-your seat suspense, John Sandford proves yet again, that he's at the top of his game.

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