Deadline by John Sandford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
My favorite in the Flowers series. Virgil gets a dog!!!!!
Johnson Johnson calls Virgil to ask for help, his friend's dogs have been dognapped and a lot of other people in Trippton are missing dogs too. They have an idea who is stealing the dogs (the man is on posters inside the Humane Society warning about his adopting dogs for medical laboratories) and they can hear the dogs close to where the man lives but nobody can find them. The man lives in an isolated area where outsiders aren't welcomed. Virgil and Johnson Johnson do some exploring, meet a young boy named Muddy who spends his days exploring the woods, and Virgil and Johnson Johnson stumble on a meth lab. Virgil calls the DEA and is instructed to discontinue looking for the dogs until the Meth Lab can be busted.
(OK this really made me mad. If this was human kids instead of fur kids that were kidnapped would the authorities say they had to wait for the Meth Lab to be busted? I think not, really sickening how little authorities will do if your pet dog or cat is kidnapped Virgil isn't even "officially" investigating the dognapping)
While they are waiting for the Meth Lab to be busted Virgil starts investigating the murder of a reporter (Clancy) who worked for the local paper. He finds out that Clancy uncovered a scheme by the local school board to steal millions from the school system. When Clancy took the story to the owner of the paper, the owner went to the school board and sold Clancy out for a cut of the money, and the school board voted to kill Clancy. When Virgil starts getting close other people are killed to cover up the embezzlement scheme and murder. As usual Virgil uses "civilians" in his investigation, one of which is the janitor Will Bacon. Will plants a camera in the auditorium where the school board meets, before he can give the camera to Virgil he is killed and the camera is taken. Virgil sets up a scheme to capture the killer by making him think Will hid the camera chip for him to find, but to his surprise discovers that Will really did hide the chip for him to find and he has all the evidence he needs to bust the school board.
The Meth Lab is eventually busted and with Muddy's help Virgil and Johnson Johnson find some of the dogs hidden in a cave. The dogs are reunited with their owners but many dogs are still missing, including the dogs of Johnson Johnson's friend. The dog people find out where a "dog sale" is going to be held and Virgil arranges to be there to arrest D. Wayne Sharf. Things get a little out of hand when Johnson Johnson arranges for a TV crew, The Minnesota Women's Anti-Vivisection League, numerous dog lovers and the Buchanan County Humane Society to show up. The dog stealer's are attacked, the dogs are freed and the Humane Society legally takes charge of the distressed and stolen dogs and reunites them with their owners. One of the dogs attaches himself to Virgil and appears not to have an owner so after protesting that "he really can't have a dog" Virgil winds up with the dog.
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