John Sandford’s ‘Dark of the Moon’ Introduces Readers to Virgil Flowers

Dark of the Moon Cover

Spin-offs are more common in TV shows or movies than in novels, but John Sandford spun-off his character Detective Virgil Flowers with the novel Dark of the Moon in 2008. 

Virgil is not your typical detective – he keeps his hair long, wears obscure rock band t-shirts, and has a string of ex-wives. As an officer for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), his cases can take him all over the state. He appeared in some of the Prey series of novels starring Lucas Davenport. Virgil likes to hunt and fish and writes articles for outdoor magazines. Virgil can be described as folksy, unlike Davenport.

Virgil is sent to the small town of Bluestem, the kind of town where everyone knows everyone, to investigate 3 murders occurring within 3 weeks. The town often goes years without a major violent crime, so three murders in as many weeks is highly unusual. Virgil believes that the murders are somehow related, even if the relationship is unclear at first. Although Virgil grew up in a small town relatively close by and played high school baseball against the sheriff, he’s still considered an outsider in this town.

Dark of the Moon is a good start to the series and Virgil is a likable character. The small town and its residents are interesting and the crimes seem incomprehensible. Many people seemed to have a reason to hate, and perhaps murder, one victim but the other two were not considered widely hated. I liked the sheriff, who was dealing with an unprecedented level of crime and criticism. His lack of experience handling major crimes was not an issue when the city did not have any major crimes, but his lack of experience quickly became an issue.

If you enjoy the Prey novels you are sure to enjoy this book. And you don’t have to be familiar with Virgil from the Prey series before reading them, so don’t worry about that. There are more books from the Virgil Flowers series available to borrow digitally on our Libby app. Dark of the Moon is also available as an audio book

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