Book Report: Shock Wave by John Sandford (2011)

Book coverThis book will probably be the last of the Sandford novels I read for a while. I’m tired of them. To recap, the progression kind of followed that of Robert B. Parker’s later work: I bought them new until I couldn’t take the thematic material stretching between the books, then I got them from the library not too long after their release, and then I got to getting them from the library sometime, maybe.

My disillusionment comes from these factors:

  • The political overtones. These are cops and Republicans books. Let’s recap some of them: In Wicked Prey, the bad guys were conservatives; in Bad Blood, the bad guys are religious; in Shock Wave, the bad guy is an Iraq War I veteran who thinks the president is a clown. You can sort of get away with that since we’re not invoking a President by name (at least not until someone belittles George H.W. Bush), but there are needless exchanges and airing of political opinions through this book where the political opinion is a marker for the character. You know, I don’t have to read books that belittle political opponents or tut-tut reasoned-out philosophical stances. I have enough crime fiction from the middle part of the 20th century, where this crap didn’t happen, to satisfy my reading needs for some time, thanks.
     
  • The weaknesses of the Davenport novels are working their way in. So much of the Davenport novels is all about managing the bureaucracy and spinning the press to take pressure off or to manipulate the media during the investigation. The Virgil Flowers books have featured a lone detective in the hinterlands of Minnesota doing some detecting, but this book has an uptick in the bureaucratic crap. Also, the fixation with the tightness of women’s asses.
     
    Come to think of it, managing bureaucracy, spinning a narrative, and objectifying women tend to be hallmarks of modern liberal Democratic thought, aren’t they?
     
  • The reliance on series tropes. You know what? Flowers dresses casually. He wears rock band t-shirts. I get it. I’ve read the other books. Even if I hadn’t, I might have gotten it the first time it’s mentioned in the book. But on and on, Sandford has to throw shout-outs to bands he likes by plastering them on his main character. I get it. At least he’s only called “that fuckin’ Flowers” a couple of times in the book. I’m awfully tired of that.

But what does my disillusionment matter? I’m not the target audience. I’m not even going to be the audience going forward. Mr. Sandford, you can kill the series characters according to your whim now. Won’t bother me a bit.

The plot? Oh, someone’s trying to keep a Walmart-clone out of a small town. Of course, the right-thinkers in the book agree with the sentiment. Only mad bombers are mad and bombing. And the mad bombers aren’t ELF or ALF or, you know, actual terrorist organizations who commit violent acts when the environment is involved (in this case, the development might cause runoff damage to a local river). Oh, but no. It’s the aforementioned veteran committing the crime out of monetary greed.

Jeez, there are Robert Crais novels I haven’t even read yet. I think I’ll bother with those when I have a hankering for a modern bit of detective fiction.

Books mentioned in this review: