Nov 13, 2022

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Bloody Genius audiobook

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Review #1

Bloody Genius audiobook free

I know I am probably the sole dissenting vote, but oh, what a disappointing mess of a novel this is. Have read everything Sanford has written and am a huge fan of the Prey series and standalones. Except for Virgil and the cops, the characters are unlikable, brainless and forgettable. There are so many of them that you need a spreadsheet to keep track, assuming you cared enough to try to remember them. Found myself flipping through last third of the book, just to get to the end (why did I bother?) and of course, couldn’t understand the ending.

Still a fan, and hope the next book is back to the usual quality of the series. Still love you Mr. Sandford, but couldn’t hack this one.


Review #2

Bloody Genius audiobook streamming online

Yes, you read that headline right. The good news about BLOODY GENIUS is that it has that magical John Sandford thing that makes the pages turn, like the hand that can’t stop itself from continuing to reach into that bag of potato chips long after you’ve started to feel a bit full and even edging into gassy queasiness. Sandford is like Lee Child or Robert Crais in that regard his books are full of tasty but empty calories, the staples that create Literary Bovine America. But for all that, there are a lot of authors out there who make better meals with better ingredients, but each bite tastes like unfinished algebra homework.

The bad news is that the Virgil Flowers series, intended as a fresh free-range-hero series reboot after Sandford’s Lucas Davenport series started to go stale, is starting to go stale and for the same reasons as its predecessor’s fate. The Davenport books lost a lot of their steam when its ridiculously frontloaded hero sexy, smart AND rich! settled down with one woman. For a while Sandford tried to carry that off by having Davenport and whatever woman he was working with share unfulfilled smoldering, but when that shift got stuck in a cul-de-sac, Sandford shifted up to make Davenport more of a global-stakes thriller hero, and left me behind in the process.

For much of what makes the best Sandford novels work is its window into Quirky Minnesota, a negative image of Guy Noir from Lake Wobegon and “A Prairie Home Companion.” There are the small towns struggling to pick pockets of wealth wherever they may be found, the strange offshoot religions with secretive rituals, the farmers who have to get illegally creative to hang on, the multiple generations of families who have lived up each others’ asses for too long to murderous effect. All with all the sex you can eat, like the suspiciously glisteny stuff under sneeze guards and heat lamps at Applebee’s.

That is largely the appeal of Virgil Flowers, a more downmarket version of Davenport, a range rider of sorts for the Minnesota Bureau of Apprehension who is usually sent to small town to investigate some sort of strange crime with sonorously dark undertones. He’s a shaggy-haired anti-heroic hero with drawly sex appeal who gets to know a cast of a dozen or so per story, circling back to them again and again, befriending them, occasionally bedding them, until one pops loose with a gun or a bomb or a knife, lather, rinse, repeat. It’s a great formula Peak Flowers occurred in a novel about eight deep in the series in which he investigated a cheerfully, murderously corrupt small-town school board.

But by the time of BLOODY GENIUS, Flowers is happily settled into a relationship with a woman he hardly ever sees, a woman pregnant with his twins, a farmer mother of five already who is dryly-funny-sexy in the classic Sandford tradition but doesn’t really register, because, duty calls. In this case, the big city Minneapolis, aka Davenport’s turf and BLOODY GENIUS suffers a bit for its lack of remove from the real world. There’s too many people, and that means too many characters, and too many of the more interesting ones are left too unexplored (such as Dr. Green, the sexy thirtysomething professor who stirs up academic controversy, who would have gotten co-starring status in the book and the bedroom in an earlier, earthier Flowers story). That’s doubly unfortunate, for the killer is someone who hadn’t gotten much page time until the unmasking, and for good reason, as the character just isn’t very interesting.

(A side note: Sandford has a somewhat retrograde view of women, and it shows to particularly obnoxious effect in BLOODY GENIUS, in which a possible suspect a teen girl regularly torments a male friend with look-but-don’t-touch flashes between her legs. It has the queasy effect of imbuing the male friend with a measure of sympathy as an incel, and that’s not something that anybody wants or needs to read in 2019.)

In all, BLOODY GENIUS is a pallid entry in a series that’s reaching a tipping point. Nobody wanted Homebody Davenport, and nobody wants Farmer Spouse Flowers, either. So, what to do? Kill off the love interest? Sandford correctly divined that killing off Davenport’s wife would repel his readers, so presumably that’s out. Go global-stakes like Davenport and send Flowers around the country, or around the world to do his troubleshooty thing? That would kill the real appeal of the Flowers series — the tours of the dark corners of rural Minnesota. Sandford’s seriously stuck here, and it says something uncomplimentary about him that he could not see the problem coming and sidestep it.

Of course, Sandford doesn’t have to do anything but what he’s doing. His fan base is secure, loyal, large and likely will follow him anywhere.


Review #3

Audiobook Bloody Genius by John Sandford

As someone who’s read every book John Sanford has written, I’m actually angry at how terrible this one is. The pacing is abysmal, which I get; its hard to maintain a solid pace when literally nothing happens in the entire book. The character work is lazy and insulting, frankly; Virgil comes off as annoyingly hokey with too many try-hard quips, and enough with the boots and stupid tee-shirts, already, we get it.

Sandford’s female characters could’ve stepped out of a Stuart Woods novel in 1991: their only purpose is to provide sexual fodder for the male characters. Describing a female professor: “tidy breasts under a pale blue blouse who’d look great with her head on a pillow and her legs wrapped around his neck, in Virgil’s humble opinion.” Another character about the same professor: “after I get my degree, I’d like to turn her upside down.” About another female character, a prostitute because of course she is: “She was wearing a mid-thigh green satin dressing gown that showed off her legs, her best feature.”

This goes on and on and on. I won’t even get into the over-the-top and unnecessary sexually graphic descriptions of Quill’s daughter. I guess Detective Trane may be exempt but it hardly matters since she’s basically on the phone during this entire stupid novel. Haha, just kidding, of course Trane’s not exempt, no women are: “…when you got out of Maggie Trane’s bed, you definitely knew you’d been in bed with Maggie Trane. I lost about five pounds that first night.”

One of the hallmarks of a good Sandford novel is the quick natural dialog, and boy are we missing that here. The dialog is stilted and trying way too hard; again, think Stuart Woods thirty years ago:

“Shake asked, ‘If she’s here, which I doubt, you wanna go in hard?’
‘Semi-hard,’ Virgil said.
‘Last time I heard that phrase, I was in bed with a woman from the county recorder’s office.’ Shrake said.

Good one. I also enjoyed the joke about the cop dating a 14-year-old, that was hilarious.

Antiquated misogyny aside, this book is still a failure. There’s no depth and no subplot– gone are the more sophisticated layered plots of past books that built suspense and kept the reader engaged, here Sandford just drags us headlong through a one-dimensional and unconvincing story full of unlikeable people and implausible answers.

I don’t think John Sandford wrote this, I think he’s gone the way of so many popular writers before him and he’s sold his name to the highest bidder. For the last five or so years I’ve preordered his upcoming books and looked forward to reading them the day they hit my Kindle, and that’s safely over. If you’re a fan of Sandford’s and a fan of this series, you can skip this one and be better for it.


Review #4

Audio Bloody Genius narrated by Eric Conger

If you are like me, a die hard Sanford fan, get the book and read it. If you are not a Sanford fan, this is not the one to start with IMHO. It’s far complicated. Not enough bang for the buck. My wife wanted to know if I liked it, so I verbatim told her just what I wrote. Did I like it? I’m a fan and I read it. I’ll say not more.


Review #5

Free audio Bloody Genius – in the audio player below

I have loved all the other Virgil Flowers books. Unfortunately, this book misses the standard they set. This one reads like Mr. Sanford got almost to the end and said “Wait, how am I going to finish this?” And then he cobbled together a rushed ending.

I gave it 3 stars because it has his usual well drawn characters.


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