Of all the popular thriller writers working today, John Sandford is the one who stands most at the forefront. His writing is as sharp and as intelligent as it gets, and no one rips through compelling, entertaining stories with greater verve and force. His characters are continually fascinating, his plots thought provoking, his dialogue crisp and funny. One is hard pressed to find anything to dislike.
What truly makes Sandford unique, however, is his willingness to dive into the darker sides of his “good” characters. Most writers will give their heroes flaws, but the list of acceptable flaws is generally short, including little more than problems with alcohol or obsession with loose women. Very few writers are as courageous as Sandford, who is willing to have his hero gun down a sadistic killer and then pin a medical professional to the ground, waiting until he is sure the killer is beyond medical help. Though we root for Sandford’s heroes, contemplation reveals that the “good guys” are often as brutal and as cold as the “bad guys.” What is most disturbing, however, is that it often seems necessary.
Few novelists are in Sandford’s league (Elmore Leonard, early Thomas Harris), and when he really gets going no one keeps up with him. Ignored by critics, his writing is as fine-tuned and deliberately crafted as any “literary” novelist. Read him, and weep for envy.
John Sandford Books to Read:
Prey Series, Rough Country, Heat Lightning.
John Sandford Links: