cover image Deep Freeze

Deep Freeze

John Sandford, read by Eric Conger. Penguin Audio, unabridged, 8 CDs, 10 hrs., $40 ISBN 978-0-525-49734-9

Actor Conger shines as Sandford’s protagonist Virgil Flowers, a lawman with a strong sense of humor. The agent of Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Appre-hension doesn’t just have the gift of gab, he sees past the gruesome aspects of his investigations to their absurd elements and reacts accordingly. In Virgil’s 10th outing, he is sent to the unfriendly town of Trippton, where the corpse of the town’s wealthiest woman (who has been murdered) has been plucked from the nearby Mississippi River. Meanwhile, the governor gives Virgil an additional assignment: locate and arrest a woman who’s been manufacturing obscene Barbie dolls. But workers in the impoverished town have become dependent on the sexy dolls’ sales and prove to be as dangerous as the murderer. Reader Conger has a crisp, resonant voice, and he smoothly conveys Virgil’s air of bemusement and the sarcastic edge that appears when he’s forced to deal with deceitful suspects and his merrily duplicitous boss, John Duncan. He plays the self-absorbed murderer, identified early on, as weak and depressed, and the others in the town of Trippton, such as Virgil’s gruff good-natured pal Johnson Johnson, with specificity. All the characters are as carefully vocalized by Conger as they are developed by Sandford in this satisfying audiobook. A Putnam hardcover. (Oct.)