Deep Freeze (Virgil Flowers Series #10)

Deep Freeze (Virgil Flowers Series #10)

by John Sandford

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Class reunions: a time for memories—good, bad, and, as Virgil Flowers is about to find out, deadly—in this New York Times bestselling thriller from John Sandford. 

Virgil knows the town of Trippton, Minnesota, a little too well. A few years back, he investigated the corrupt—and as it turned out, homicidal—local school board, and now the town’s back in view with more alarming news: A woman’s been found dead, frozen in a block of ice. There’s a possibility that it might be connected to a high school class of twenty years ago that has a mid-winter reunion coming up, and so, wrapping his coat a little tighter, Virgil begins to dig into twenty years’ worth of traumas, feuds, and bad blood. In the process, one thing becomes increasingly clear to him. It’s true what they say: High school is murder.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780698407114
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/17/2017
Series: Virgil Flowers Series , #10
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 1,353
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

John Sandford is the pseudonym for the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Camp. He is the author of twenty-seven Prey novels, most recently Golden Prey; four Kidd novels, ten Virgil Flowers novels, and six other books, including three YA novels co-authored with his wife Michele Cook.


St. Paul, Minnesota

Date of Birth:

February 23, 1944

Place of Birth:

Cedar Rapids, Iowa


State University of Iowa, Iowa City: B.A., American History; M.A., Journalism

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
David Birkmann sat in his living room with an empty beer can in his hand and stared sadly at his bachelor’s oversized television, which wasn’t turned on. A light winter wind was blowing a soft, lovely snow into the storm windows. He needed to get out to plow the drive in the morning. He wasn’t thinking about that, or the winter, or the storm.
            He’d gotten away with it, he thought. That didn’t make him much happier.
            David – he thought of himself as David, rather than Big Dave, Daveareeno, Daveissimo, D-Man, Chips or Bug Boy– didn’t consider himself a killer. Not a real killer.
            He was simply accident-prone. Always had been.
            Accidents were one reason he’d been elected as Class of ’92 funniest boy, like the totally unfunny time when he hadn’t gotten the corn chips out of the vending machine in the school’s junk-food niche. He’d tried to shake the bag loose and the machine had tipped over on him, pinning him to the cold ceramic tiles of Trippton High School.
            Everybody who’d seen it had laughed – the fat boy pinned like a spider under a can of peas – even before they were sure he wasn’t injured.
            Even George Marx, the assistant principal in charge of discipline, had laughed. He had, nevertheless, given David fifteen days of detention, plus the additional unwanted nickname of Chips, a nickname that had hung on like a bad stink for twenty-five years.
            His own father had laughed after he found out that Trippton High School wouldn’t make him pay for the damage to the vending machine.
            Big Dave, Daveareeno, Daveissimo, D-Man... Bug Boy... squashed like a bug.
The latest accident had occurred that night, though David thought it was all perfectly explainable, if you understood the history and the overall situation. He knew that the cops wouldn’t buy it.
            The history:
            First, his father was the Bug Man of Trippton, the leading pest exterminator in Buchanan County. For nine months of the year, the brightly-colored Bug Man vans were seen everywhere you’d find a bug. For the other three months, in the heart of winter, even the bugs took time off.
            David had never been the most popular kid in school and because of his father’s rep, had been told to bug off or bug out when he tried to hang with the popular kids, even in elementary school. That’d become a tired thirteen-year-long joke in the trek between kindergarten and twelfth grade. He’d always laughed about it, trying to ingratiate himself with the Populars.
            He wasn’t laughing, now.
Because, second, Birkmann had fallen in love with Gina Hemming in the summer after sixth grade, when the first freshet of testosterone hit. He’d loved her all through school, and for that matter, for his entire life. How, he wondered, could that love have put him here, empty beer can in his hand, a hole in his heart?
            Hemming had been one of the Populars – too smart and arrogant to be the most popular, but right up there, with her gold locket, cashmere sweaters and low-rise fashion jeans. She had a silver ring, with a pearl, in her navel. Her father owned the largest bank in Trippton, which placed her in the local aristocracy.
            She was pretty, if not the prettiest; she had a great body, if not the greatest; and was one of two National Merit Scholars in their class, selected 1992’s girl most likely to succeed. People expected great things from her, but, in the way of many small-town girls, the great things hadn’t quite come true.
            After college, at St. Catherine’s in St. Paul, she’d gone to work in Washington, D.C., as an aide to a Minnesota congressman. There she learned that being the heiress of Trippton’s richest banker didn’t cut a whole lot of ice in the nation’s capital. Plus, in Washington, she was only in the top twenty percent of pretty, and maybe – maybe – the top twenty-five percent of good bodies. Those clipboard-carrying aides tended to spend time in the gym, and when that didn’t work, on the operating table, getting enhanced.
            After two years in Washington, she’d moved to New York, as an editorial assistant at HarperCollins, and where she needed a solid input of daddy’s money to rent a barely livable apartment on the Upper West Side. One day, she was assaulted on a subway to work, or at least that was the way she thought of it, though the guy had only pushed her, probably accidentally.
            Five years after graduation from college, she’d had been back in Trippton, working at daddy’s bank. Two years later, she married the scion of the Trippton real estate dynasty, such as it was, in a beautiful eight-bridesmaid ceremony at Trippton National Golf Club, to which David hadn’t been invited.
            With her good marriage, her father’s support, her Washington line of bullshit and New York hair styling, she’d advanced quickly enough, from loan officer to vice-president and then to President. When Daddy choked to death on an overcooked slab of roast beef, she got, at age thirty-seven, the whole enchilada.
            And at forty-two, had filed for divorce, for reasons not disclosed in the Trippton Republican-River. Rumor had it that the real estate guy, Justin Hart, had taken to wearing nylons and referring to himself as Justine. That would be fine in Washington, New York or L.A., but not so good in Trippton. There were no children.
            There she was, David’s first and truest love.
            What did he love about her? Everything. He loved to hear her talk, he loved to hear her laugh, he loved to watch her walk, he loved the brains and the self-confidence and her whole... gestalt.
David’s own divorce had taken place two years earlier. His ex had promptly moved to Dallas – or maybe San Antonio, he got them confused – with her lover, to start over with a fresh Dunkin’ Donuts franchise. She hadn’t asked for alimony, only that David purchase her adulterous lover’s local Dunkin’ Donuts store. David had sold off the land on the old family farm, which he’d rented out anyway, to get the $250,000 he needed.
            His ex had taken the cashier’s check at a joint meeting with their attorneys, clipped it into her purse, and snarled, “I never even liked you, Bug Boy.” Then she’d looked around the faux-walnut paneling in the law office conference room and asked, “How’d I ever get stuck in this freezin’ fuckin’ mudhole? I must’ve been out of my goddamn mind.”
While all that was going on, David had inherited the Bug Man business from his father, who’d died of several different kinds of cancer. During most of his career, the old man had considered chlordane, which even smelled kinda good, to be the answer to a bug man’s prayers. Turned out, it wasn’t. Turned out it was a multi-faceted carcinogen.
            After his father’s death, David bought out a rival business that had employees trained in the elimination of pest animals – rats, skunks and squirrels, mostly, with the occasional raccoon – and had changed the company name to GetOut!
            At forty-two, he was the undisputed pest-elimination king of Trippton, as well the owner of the only local Dunkin’ Donuts. There were some in town who considered that a salubrious combination. Others were not so sure; or at least, they hoped he frequently washed his hands.
            And he was still the Bug Boy.
All of that had set up the situation that left David crying in front of a blank-screen TV.
            Gina Hemming, the rich, arrogant, divorced bank Chairwoman of the Board and President of the Second National Bank, and Class of ’92 girl most likely to succeed, and David Birkmann, financially-okay divorced owner of GetOut! and a Main Street donut shop, ’92 funniest boy.
            On that cold Thursday night in January, they met at Gina’s house with a group of Populars from the class of ’92, including the class president, homecoming king and queen, the boy and girl most likely to succeed, most athletic boy and girl and funniest boy and girl. A few of the most popular kids had left Trippton and had never returned; they’d been invited to the meeting, but had unanimously declined.
            The group that met Thursday night was to begin working out the mechanisms of the upcoming Twenty-Fifth Reunion of the Trippton High School Class of ’92 (“Go Otters.”)
One of the committee members, Ryan Harney, a physician, had looked at the faces gathered in Hemming’s living room and said, “Man – the more things change, the more the stay the same, huh?” whatever that meant, and later said, “Isn’t it weird that we’re all still here after twenty-five years?”
            Nobody seemed to know what that meant, either. Where else would they be?
            The committee sorted through the usual bullshit and passed out assignments: Lucy Cheever, the homecoming queen, now owner of a Chevrolet dealership, agreed to have her computer assistant track down members of the class to get addresses, emails and cell phone numbers; Gina would arrange to get the tent at Trippton National Golf Club for the big second evening reunion; George Brown, the most athletic boy, now owner of a bowling alley, would provide dancing and free beer at the bowling alley on the first “fun meet-up” night; Birkmann was friendly with the leader of the Dog Butt dance band, which also played softer, more romantic music as June Moon, and agreed to pick up the cost of the band for both nights. Somebody else agreed to collect home movie film and convert it to video for the “fun meet-up,” and so on.
            Around eight-thirty, the committee members started drifting away. Ten o’clock was bedtime in Trippton, if you wanted to get a good start on the next day. Birkmann, though, had other plans.
            He’d gotten ready for the night by dressing carefully, but casually: tan Dockers slacks, high-polished cordovan penny loafers, a button-down checked shirt and green boat-neck sweater, both of the latter from Nordstrom’s Rack up at the Mall of America.
            As he was leaving the house, he’d picked up his regular red company hat, but noticed that it had gotten brushed with something black and sticky; no matter, he had a box of them in a variety of colors. He picked a yellow GetOut! baseball cap sprinkled with black dots that, when you looked closely, were deer ticks. Not everybody liked them, but David thought they were cool. And the yellow coordinated nicely with the green sweater and tan Dockers.
Anyway, he’d been looking good; casual, but businesslike. When everybody but three committee members had gone, David had gotten his coat and slipped into Hemming’s kitchen and out the back door. His truck was parked in the street, with a layer of snow on the windshield.
            He had stashed a bottle of Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvee in his truck, and it was now nice and cold. He’d watched the last three members depart, all in the group, saying goodbye to Hemming at the front door. When the last one was gone, he’d hustled back up the driveway and in the back door, the bottle of champagne in his hand.
            He’d had something casual and sophisticated in mind, but it had all gone bad.
Cut to the action:
            “Get away from me, you fat fuck!” Hemming screamed. She was wearing a burgundy-colored jacket and skirt, with a pale pink blouse and high heels. “You’re disgusting... you... fuckin’... Bug Boy!’”
            Hemming wasn’t satisfied with humiliating him, screaming at him and calling him a hated name, she had to go one step further. He’d spread his arms, embarrassed enough, trying to quiet her, and she’d stepped right up to him and slapped him on the side of the head, raking him with her fingernails. Really put some weight behind it.
            Stunned, he’d swung back... not really thinking.
            He’d swung with the hand that held the bottle. In the movies, if you hit somebody with a bottle of wine, the bottle broke, and the person went down, and a moment later got up, maybe with a little trickle of blood at the corner of his mouth.
            When he’d hit Hemming, the bottle went CLUNK, as though he’d hit her with a pipe. The bottle hadn’t broken. Hadn’t even cracked. Hemming dropped like a head-shot deer.
            For the next couple of minutes, there was a lot of calling, pleading and shaking – “Gina, come on, I didn’t mean it, get up. Come on, Gina, get up” – but the fact was, Gina Hemming was deader than the aforesaid deer, looking up at him with blank gray eyes, half open. Gina wouldn’t be coming back until she marched in with Jesus and all the saints.
Birkmann hadn’t really thought about what to do next, since it was all unplanned. He stared at her for a while, lying crumbled on the floor, then said, “Oh my God.” He thought about calling for an ambulance, but that would get him put in jail.
            He already knew he didn’t want to go to jail – didn’t deserve it. She’d started the fight, had struck out at him. He’d not even really swung the bottle, not really, he’d tried to block another blow, he thought, and the bottle sort of bumped her.
            Deep in his heart, though, he knew he’d killed her.
            He stood there and thought about it, turned looking around the room, noticed the blond wooden railing on the stairway that came down from the second floor.
            She’d tripped and fallen, he decided.
            He swallowed back his nausea, pulled her body over to the bottom of the stairs, spent a moment arranging it. When he’d hit her, he’d literally knocked her out of her high heels. He picked them up, stylish tan pumps, carried one halfway up the stairs, left it on a step, put the other one halfway on one of her feet.
            Got close enough to notice that she still smelled good. He started to cry, tears running helplessly and hopelessly down his cheeks. He brushed them off with the sleeve of the green sweater, but gasping with grief and fear and loathing, thought, what else?
            Nothing else. Nothing more he could do. Wait: fingerprints on the back door...

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Deep Freeze 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 74 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this in one sitting, then sat back and wished I did'nt read so fast. JS never let's his many fans down. Love Virgil Flowers. Highly recommend this and ALL his previous books. Please keep em coming Mr Sanford!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best of the Flowers series with more to come (I hope). While 180 degrees from Davenport, Sandford now has Virgil every bit as interesting as Lucas. In all the Flowers novels we meet characters that would be right at home in Mark Twain’s work. We visit some old and new folks that only Virgil could run into.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That “F’n” Flowers strikes again. This is another winner that keeps you guessing from start to finish and clearly one that you won’t put down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Typical Virgil, typical Sanford, thoroughly enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great writing and the anticipation of the next one is like waiting for Christmas.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well worth the wait.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished reading this novel, and I enjoyed it. If you've enjoyed other Virgil Flowers novels, you'll enjoy this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
F..cking flowers at his best
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another good read, I am never disappointed when I start a John Sandford book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed every minute. Another page turner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Great Read. Virgil Flowers is one of a kind
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
John delivers another great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great, as usual. Love Virgil.
Momma_Becky More than 1 year ago
Virgil's back for another investigation in Trippton, and while we know early on who the killer is, it's always fun to watch that Fu#!in' Flowers do his thing. Along with the murder case, Virgil gets pulled into another case that is more amusing than mysterious, but he soon finds out that the women of Trippton aren't to be trifled with. While this one doesn't have as much action as previous books in the series, we do get an engaging story full of Sandford's wit, especially with Virgil's pal, Johnson, on the scene. True to form, there are some twists along the way with one interesting twist in Virgil's personal life to close out the story. How that last one will go remains to be seen and I'm not sure how I feel about it given Virgil's history, but it should be entertaining to watch it play out in the next book. As always, Eric Conger does an excellent job on the narration with a style that is perfect for this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reading. about Virgil is like catching up with an old friend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn’t put it down, I absolutely love John Sandford books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Real enjoy Flowers and reading all the troubles he gets into
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The dry humor in these books is great, and the way Virgil runs an investigation is a Crack up. But he always gets em!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the mystery and at times i laughed at loud. Doesnt get any more enjoyable than this author or the characters he creates.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Virgil Flowers is my favorite character in the Sanderford books. This does not dissapoint. Fun read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read.