Rating:

escape clause book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

Escape Clause is the ninth book in the Virgil Flowers series–my, how the time flies! It doesn’t seem that long ago that John Sandford only had Davenport Prey books out!  Lucas Davenport always seemed a bit grittier with in-your-face violence. Virgil Flowers is a little more laid back, though no less competent at his job (and he works/worked for Lucas). The Virgil books seem to be much more humorous and less intense.

Two Amur tigers are discovered missing from the Minnesota Zoo. It looks like a fairly well planned operation–no one saw anything and there are very few clues to follow. Virgil does help figure out how the tigers disappeared with the help of local teens who give him hints about where to look for some evidence.

The two big leading theories were that the tigers were stolen by animal rights activists to ‘protect’ the tigers or by someone looking to turn them into traditional Chinese medicine. And when no demands were made, it was more and more likely that it was for the latter purpose. Talking with some of the extreme animal rights activists enforced this belief, since even they felt zoos were needed where Amur tigers were involved. And every day that went by without the tigers being recovered made it more likely that they would be killed and processed into little medicine bottles.

On top of everything that’s going on with the investigation, Virgil’s girlfriend’s sister is home visiting. She’s a hot little number coming home to do some research for her thesis, and the research is to bring to light some illegal employment practices by a local food processor. They don’t like it and try to warn her off a couple times (though other people are the ones paying for her interference). One is her sister and this distracts Virgil from finding the tigers.

This is the third book in the series that I have read and I have enjoyed them all. I already have three more of the series on my shelves waiting to be read when I get the chance. Weird and silly things happen around Virgil all the time and it keeps things a little lighter and more enjoyable when dealing with not so nice topics and people.


Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.