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Book Note: John Sandford, Everything Else

I read this book about 2010-04-25. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2000. This note was last modified Wednesday, 15-Jun-2016 14:06:16 PDT.

This note contains spoilers for the book.

 

I tore through all the Sandford available in paperback so fast that I'm not, realistically, going to get around to writing individual entries, and besides I don't remember the details from all the books. On the other hand, some of the 50,000 foot view interests me. So.

To figure out which exact books I'm talking about, I recommend to your attention the quite nice website which is not run by his publisher but by his son.

Lucas Davenport

He's a Minneapolis homicide detective, who gets in trouble for excessive violence (punishing a pimp who hurt one of his informants badly), and who is clearly willing to cheat a lot (we see him set up to frame people and plant evidence a number of times; but something always happens to make it not necessary). He gets booted off the force. He consults for a while, gets even richer, comes back in a political position, moves over to the BCA and has an even more political position.

I find it very amusing that he's somewhat rich on his own. He drives a Porsche and has a nice house on River Road in St. Paul. How did he make his money? This is what is amusing: he designs games in his spare time. Military simulation war-games, like a Gettysburg simulation. His publisher is starting to move him into computer games. I've known enough people who designed major games, and most of them couldn't afford any car at all on their game design income. So I find this amusing. I still like it; it's a character quirk, and not what you'd expect from a homicide detective. (Later his company gets into simulations of police dispatch systems, and he sells out.)

He has a play-testing group, including a nun he's known since they were both children who teaches at a local university. This is of course somewhat reminiscent of the gaming group in John M. Ford's The Scholars of Night. And I like that a lot, even though we don't see that much of it (especially in later books).

He seems to get laid a lot. He does, however, manage to keep a decent relationship going with the mother of his daughter (who won't marry him). Later, he gets married, and has a child with his wife, and takes on a ward as well, and that goes okay at least so far also. He seems to learn some things about relationshiops, even.

There do seem to be a lot of serial killers around. Some of them are memorable. The doctor from Eyes of Prey, for example. The descriptions of his drug usage are excellent; and he's so interesting himself that he gets another book later (in New York).

Kidd

Kidd is a hacker, who works commercially sometimes. He's also a fine-art painter. In his first book, he's making enough to just barely live on from his art, and living quite well from his illegal income. By the fourth book, he's getting multi-hundred-thousand dollar commissions.

In his second book, he's called in to help save a small town in Mississippi from the good old boys who run it. In his first, he's involved in more commercial activity, including one where he's hoodwinked by the client and has some difficult times.

Kidd's universe is the same as Davenport's; he appears on-stage in some of the Davenport books, in fact.

There's an interesting recurring character, a professional burglar, and interesting supporting characters and villains in each book. Also his friend Bobby the super-hacker, who gets him all the special information he needs.

Virgil Flowers

Nearly always referred to as "that fuckin' Flowers". He's in the Davenport universe too. In fact, Davenport is his boss at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Flowers is a top investigator, and also a part-time writer for hunting and fishing magazines.

He's not as clear a person as Davenport; at least to me. Or as interesting. But he, also, is perfectly capable of arranging for a suspect to die in the process of being arrested.

The Night Crew

Out in LA, our protagonist runs an independent news video crew. They run around anywhere that sounds interesting all night, and try to get video they can sell to the local stations (and, if they're lucky, nationally).

So they stumble onto something. Not quite like in Blowup, but a bit. More than they expected. They investigate, and there is trouble, and people do brave and stupid things, and some live and some die. Gack; sorry, that just flowed out. I did rather enjoy the book.

Overall

All of his main characters, and some of the others, are multi-talented; computers and art, video and music, or something. Also, all of them are just short of professional level in some skill, often athletic (one of them couldn't see well enough to hit a college fastball, one of them wasn't good enough on skates for a real career in professional hockey, one of them was about the best pianist of her year at a school where you needed to be the best for several years both sides to be commercially viable. All of them have lives; things they care about besides work, ongoing relationships, and so forth. And all of them are completely ruthless, though only when necessary.

These are set mostly around the city I live in. It's strange to me how little sense of "place" I get reading them. Maybe a lot of this is an echo of Davenport's dislike for the City Hall; everyone I know thinks it's a nice old building.

On the other hand, when he's out in the small towns, those are very vivid and specific. Also the cold winter weather.


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David Dyer-Bennet