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Escape Clause
Cover of Escape Clause
Escape Clause
Virgil Flowers Series, Book 9
Whenever you hear the sky rumble, that usually means a storm. In Virgil Flowers' case, make that two. The exceptional new thriller from the writer whose books are "pure reading pleasure" (Booklist)

The first storm comes from, of all places, the Minnesota zoo. Two large, and very rare, Amur tigers have vanished from their cage, and authorities are worried sick that they've been stolen for their body parts. Traditional Chinese medicine prizes those parts for home remedies, and people will do extreme things to get what they need. Some of them are a great deal more extreme than others — as Virgil is about to find out.
Then there's the homefront. Virgil's relationship with his girlfriend Frankie has been getting kind of serious, but when Frankie's sister Sparkle moves in for the summer, the situation gets a lot more complicated. For one thing, her research into migrant workers is about to bring her up against some very violent people who emphatically do not want to be researched. For another...she thinks Virgil's kind of cute.
"You mess around with Sparkle," Frankie told Virgil, "you could get yourself stabbed."
"She carries a knife?"
"No, but I do."
Forget a storm – this one's a tornado.
From the Hardcover edition.
Whenever you hear the sky rumble, that usually means a storm. In Virgil Flowers' case, make that two. The exceptional new thriller from the writer whose books are "pure reading pleasure" (Booklist)

The first storm comes from, of all places, the Minnesota zoo. Two large, and very rare, Amur tigers have vanished from their cage, and authorities are worried sick that they've been stolen for their body parts. Traditional Chinese medicine prizes those parts for home remedies, and people will do extreme things to get what they need. Some of them are a great deal more extreme than others — as Virgil is about to find out.
Then there's the homefront. Virgil's relationship with his girlfriend Frankie has been getting kind of serious, but when Frankie's sister Sparkle moves in for the summer, the situation gets a lot more complicated. For one thing, her research into migrant workers is about to bring her up against some very violent people who emphatically do not want to be researched. For another...she thinks Virgil's kind of cute.
"You mess around with Sparkle," Frankie told Virgil, "you could get yourself stabbed."
"She carries a knife?"
"No, but I do."
Forget a storm – this one's a tornado.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book Chapter One

    Peck popped a Xanax, screwed the cap back on the pill tube, peered over the top of the bush and through the chain link fence, and in a hoarse whisper, asked, "You see the other one?"
    The big man with the rifle whispered, "Right by that tree, above the first one. She's looking down at him."
    "Get her."
    The big man rested the muzzle of the rifle in the V of one of the chain links, pulled the trigger: the rifle made a "pop" sound, not much louder than a handclap. They waited, staring into the darkness, then Peck said, "Ah, you dumb shit, you missed her. You missed her. She should be down, but she's not. She's moving."
    "Might have hit that brush, deflected the shot..."
    "She's moving out in the open. Reload," Peck said.
    "I'm doing it, get off my back, will ya?"
    "Can you see her now?" Peck asked. "She's getting curious about why the guy's just lying there."
    Pop.
    "Got her. Saw it hit," the big man said.
    "Sure she's down? We don't want to make a mistake."
    "She's going down now..." the big man whispered, "I'm pretty sure."
    Peck could smell the nicotine and tar on the other man's breath. The big guy was addicted to Akhtamar Black Flames, and almost always had one stuck to his lower lip; but not now. Peck reached out and slapped him on the back of the head and said, "I don't want to hear that pretty sure. You know what happens if you're wrong? We're dead men."
    "You fuckin' slap me again and I'll stick the gun butt up your ass and twist it sideways."
    A small man, crouched on the other side of the rifleman, "I saw them get hit. I saw it, man. Both of them. But who knows if it was enough?"
    They all went silent for a moment, squinting into the dark. Two bodies lay in the short grass, unmoving. The fence was twenty feet high and stouter than a normal chain link; a prison fence. With no sign of movement on the other side, Peck said, "Hamlet: cut the fence."
    "What if they're faking?" The small guy had half-circles under his eyes, so dark they looked like broken blue poker chips.
    "You're the one who said they got hit," Peck said. The soapy touch of Xanax was slipping into his brain.
    The small guy said, "Maybe we oughta split. I'm not feeling so sure about this."
    "We're here. It's done. Cut the fuckin' fence," Peck said.

    Hamlet's side-cutters made a grunt sound as he snipped each piece of wire. Grunt-grunt-grunt. They'd come well-equipped: they wore rubber kitchen gloves and black clothing and trucker hats and, in addition to the gun, had brought a roll of black duct tape they'd use to put the fence back together when they left.
    Hamlet was cutting a wide oval in the fence, leaving it hinged on one side. He'd gotten halfway around the oval when the big man, Hayk, hissed and touched his brother's arm and whispered, "Someone's coming."
    They sank into the brush and Hayk moved the muzzle of the rifle around until it pointed out at the perimeter road. Twenty seconds later, a man in a gray uniform ambled along the road, looking at nothing in particular, talking to himself.
    When he was directly opposite them, forty feet away, they heard him say, "I told him not to give her the money. She'll blow it on herself. That's what she'll do, and you know it. It won't get to your mom. She doesn't care about your mom..."
    Peck realized that the security guard was wearing an ear piece and was talking...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 1, 2016
    The kidnapping of a pair of rare Amur tigers from the Minnesota Zoo, located in a suburb of Minneapolis and St. Paul, propels Thriller Award–winner Sandford’s outstanding ninth Virgil Flowers novel (after 2014’s Deadline). Winston Peck VI, the pill-popping brain behind the operation, is relying on hired thugs Hamlet Simonian and Ham’s older brother, Hayk, to act fast and process the tigers for ingredients used in traditional Chinese medicine—which means Virgil, an agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and his team have little time to waste if they’re to recover the tigers alive. Meanwhile, Virgil’s girlfriend, Frankie Nobles, has a guest, her younger sister, Sparkle. Sparkle’s research for her dissertation into migrant workers at a local canning factory leads to a beating for Frankie when factory thugs mistake Frankie for Sparkle. The rule-bending Virgil must use his wits to resolve the kidnapping and avenge Frankie’s beating in an entry notable for its twisted, inept, and drug-addled bad guys. Plenty of humor leavens the action. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM.

  • Kirkus

    Virgil Flowers, of Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, pivots from dognapping (Field of Prey, 2014, etc.) to a catnapping whose victims are really big cats.It's just as illegal in China as it is in the rest of the world to deal in so-called natural medicines derived from slain wild animals, but it's much more common to ignore the Chinese laws, as California mobster Zhang Min does when he hires Winston Peck VI, an M.D. barred from practicing since he groped one too many unconscious patients, to steal a pair of Amur tigers from the Minnesota Zoo, kill them, and mine their bodies for all manner of nostrums. The theft, for which Peck brings in the none-too-bright fraternal pair Hayk and Hamlet Simonian, goes off without a hitch, and one of the cats is soon ready to be rendered, a process whose unlovely effects Sandford describes in exquisite detail. But when Virgil, called in to investigate, finds Hamlet's fingerprint in a place where it definitely shouldn't be, Peck begins cutting his losses by eliminating his confederates, and the race is on: can Virgil find anyone whose evidence against Peck will stand up before Peck puts paid to the informant? Several subplots, from an animal rights activist's vendetta against a dealer in animal products and parts to the beating of Frankie Nobles, Virgil's current lover, are less interesting than the main event and therefore come across as padding. But Peck, who wonders if he's a psychopath or a spree killer and decides that for him, "killing was simply a work-related task," is well worth your time. Perfect entertainment for readers whose hearts skip a beat when they worry that the hero won't be in time to rescue that remaining tiger from certain death. COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    May 15, 2016
    Not only must Virgil Flowers find the two Siberian tigers that have vanished from the Minnesota Zoo, perhaps stolen for vital organs valued by traditional Chinese medicine, but he must fend off girlfriend Frankie's younger sister, who's taken a sparkle to him. Three of the last four Flowers novels have debuted at No. 1 on the "New York Times" best sellers list.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Escape Clause
Escape Clause
Virgil Flowers Series, Book 9
John Sandford
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