Well, I and other faitful golf fans watched Rory's coronation after his record-breaking performance in this year's U.S. Open. How nice to have someone new to cheer for, to watch to see just how far this young phenom can take it. I still want Tiger to return to form, but now, when and if he comes back, he'll have a legitimate opponent to contend with. Good for him, good for Rory, good for golf.
Back to Sandford for a bit. I’m buzzing through the first in the series, now into Winter Prey, the fifth, and man, is it ever winter in Wisconsin. If you ever want to relive a truly cold night (I don’t know why anyone would want to), then read the first two chapters of Winter Prey and you’ll feel and hear and smell what it’s like when the temperature drops to thirty below. It’s cold enough to kill.
In this one, Lucas first meets Dr. Weather Karkinnen, the woman he would later marry. He’s been called in by the local sheriff, who doesn’t feel adequate to investigate a triple homicide in Grant, a small town in northern Wisconsin. He knew about Lucas’s reputation, knew that Lucas was living in a lakeside cabin not for from the site of the murders, and asked for his help, deputizing him to keep it all legal. It’s hard to explain Sandford’s style, why I think it’s so good. It’s definitely not a literary style. If you’re looking for that in a hard-boiled thriller, you’d have to look into James Lee Burke, who, despite the violence of most of his Dave Robicheaux novels, is as close to Faulkner as any living writer. With Sandford, it’s the authenticity of the dialogue and his attention to sensory detail that makes him so good. For example, “The wind whistled down the frozen run of Shasta Creek, between the blacker-than-black walls of pine. The thin naked swamp alders and slight new birches bent before it. Needle-point ice crystals rode it, like sandpaper grit, carving arabesque whorls in the drifting snow.” Not great, maybe, but very good. Many readers might object to the frequency of the F-bombs, but that’s the way people in a tough trade talk. For example, Gene Climpt, the sheriff’s investigator, is describing to Lucas one of the men they’re going to interrogate: “If that son-of-a-bitch’s heart caught on fire,” Climpt said, “I wouldn’t piss down his throat to put it out.” Again, maybe not great, but unusually good. If you’ve never read Sandford, give him a try. His plots are intricate and surprising, his characters spot-on three dimensional.