Week 17 marks a first for Lara’s Reading Room: I was asked to review a book! Well, actually, Allan of Pop Culture World News was sent the book from the publisher and he passed it to me! Happily, I obliged.

ROUGH COUNTRY is the third in a mystery series (and my first) featuring Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers. Written by John Sandford, this installment has Flowers pulled from a fishing trip to investigate the murder of Erica McDill. Rich, powerful, well-known but not well-liked, McDill was on vacation at the all-female Eagle Nest resort, resting up before taking ownership interest in her firm and slashing positions, two openly known facts. Also openly known were McDill’s steady relationship with agency partner Ruth Davies, several sexual entanglements she had at the resort and her interest in promoting a band with a questionable history. Throw in years’ old murder that may be connected, a recent murder attempt that may not, a cast of characters with valid motives and a man’s-man-ladies’-man investigator, and you’ve got the makings of a good mystery.

And good mystery it is. Not great, but certainly good.

In 400 pages, Sandford has laid out a well-developed cast of interesting characters and punchy dialogue that moves the story on at a reasonble clip. ROUGH COUNTRY lacked a bit of action, and could have benefited from a few more twists and turns throughout the middle of the story that would have kept me more fully engaged and turning the pages a bit faster. I was also disappointed that the majority of female characters (who were mostly lesbians) seemed to fall into stereotypical behaviors and dialogue, while the commentary from the men about or directed to the women was, at times, cliched. These faults weren’t enough to turn me off of the book, but were worth noting. I thoroughly enjoyed the end, which I thought Sandford wrapped up creatively in certainly with a fourth book in mind.

ROUGH COUNTRY is a perfect book for a lazy weekend or when you are lounging on the sand. As breezy and juicy as that umbrella drink you reach for between the chapters.


Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 400