The Whirlwind
Occupy Wall Street: Memo from Froggy

Book Review: SHOCK WAVE

This book review is courtesy of Elise Cooper for

New York Times bestselling author John Sandford’s latest book, Shock Wave, brings back Virgil Flowers as the main character. Flowers, an incidental character in the Lucas Davenport series was spun-off to become a hero in his own series of books. 

This thriller is definitely plot enhanced. The story takes off after a bomb goes off in the small town of Butternut Falls at a chain store headquarters, PyeMart, and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent, Flowers, is called in to investigate.  Sandford skillfully weaves the plot into a ‘who done it,’ as more bombs are exploded. There are a multitude of suspects: the local merchants who will lose their business, the environmentalists, the Mayor and City Council who were bribed, and those citizens who will gain or lose from the growth of the city moving West instead of South. 

Sandford decided to develop a plot surrounding domestic bombings from his experience in Iraq. He commented that while in Iraq to write an article “about a Blackhawk’s squadron I saw a lot of mortars being shot at the air force base. I saw a lot of bomb damage.  I became aware of explosives. I decided to research and was surprised to see that everything I needed to know about bombs I could find on the Internet.”

Through his research he came across a famous bombing in the Twin Cities where a chain store was targeted. Sandford wrote the bomber’s persona as, “A crazy guy who was making himself feel good.  I wrote him as someone making bombs in their basement instead of now where they are suicide bombers.”

The author explained that the Flowers series, written as a thriller, does not have a lot of character development. This is true since the reader does not gravitate towards any of the characters other than Flowers.  He explained, “The essence of this thriller needs a sense of speed and velocity to move forward.  When I write a mystery you have more time to develop the characters.”

It is interesting how one of the characters, the Mayor of the town, is described as a foul mouth, screaming, trashy, corrupt politician whose name is Geraldine “Gore.”  When asked if this was coincidental or intentional he stated, “It was something stuck in the back of my head.  The fact being I did not like her and I do not like Al Gore.”

Sandford enjoys writing two different book series and described the difference between the two types.  The Flower series has a lot of humor, whose main character is a surfer type that is a wise cracking, t-shirt wearing sleuth.  The antithesis of this is the Lucas Davenport books which have more complicated stories, stronger character development, is much more intense, with a heavy emphasis on dark, violent crimes.  The reader can get a glimpse of the Davenport character on November 6th when the USA channel airs an earlier book, Certain Prey, starring Mark Harmon. Lucas Davenport will also be featured in his next book, which will be released in June.

This book involves bribery, cheating, infidelity, conspiracies, and suspense.  Sandford allows the reader to play detective by giving hints and facts as Flowers is attempting to solve the crime.  Although the book is fast paced it is not as intense as other thrillers and the reader can be amused and have fun while trying to figure out who is the bomber.