Storm Front

When it comes to crime novelists, John Sandford is one of the best. A former Pulitzer winner for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, he’s a journalist at heart, which means he doesn’t waste the reader’s time and is a stickler for details. Set in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, his 24 “Prey” novels (the word is in every title, e.g. Silken Prey) feature homicide investigator Lucas Davenport, who is independently wealthy but stays with police work because he loves it. Sandford has also written seven novels (including this latest) centered on Virgil Flowers, a homicide detective who works under Davenport. In some ways Storm Front is a departure for Sandford, in that nobody dies and the overriding tone is one of comic absurdity, not unlike a Carl Hiaasen novel. In this case various parties, including Mossad and Hezbollah, along with a TV star, a wingnut academic and an endearing Lebanese pilot-in-training, are in pursuit of a reliquary that a dying Minnesota minister has stolen from an Israeli archeological dig. They all seem to believe the ancient stone has the potential to rewrite the history of the Middle East. Flowers’ job is to straighten out the mess and find the stone—which he does, of course. The fun is in getting there.