John Sandford's "Mad River" http://www.amazon.com/Mad-River-Virgil-Flowers-Novel/dp/0399157700/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359734781&sr=8-1&keywords=mad+river+by+john+sandford is a runaway freight train of a read. The sixth book in Sandford's popular Virgil Flowers series, this cop and mystery novel is fast moving with plenty of action and smart detective work.
Three spree killers are on the loose and cutting down anyone in their way. It all starts when Jimmy Sharp, Becky Welsh and Tom McCall break into the O'Leary house -- to steal some diamond earings, but the robbery goes sideways and Jimmy Sharp kills Agatha O'Leary,one of the people in the house, when she is merely kneeling on the floor. But why was Jimmy asking if she was Agatha before he cut her down?
Jimmy Sharp is a bully from way back, Becky Welsh is a beauty and Tom McCall is a reject from the Navy with a skin condition. They are all hard luck cases, who cannot hold down a job or get out of their deadend town. Becky goes into the O'Leary house to steal some diamonds because she dreams of getting away, McCall goes along for the ride, but Jimmy Sharp and his pistol, why was he really in the house?
Once Sharp gets a taste for killing, there is no stopping him, as he guns down a man for a car outside the O'Leary home, and before Flowers is even fully engaged, has killed his abusive old man, and Welsh's parents. The body count quickly stands at 5.
Virgil Flowers,a long haired tee shirt wearing detective with an impending Vanity Fair writing contract, is one of the BCA's best lawman. Called upon by Davenport, the hero of Sandford's other bestselling series (the Prey books http://www.johnsandford.org/books.html), Flowers must try to work with Lewis Duke, the sheriff of one of the towns where the crimes take place and stop the hard luck outcasts before they kill again. Duke is a loud mouthed jerk.
Meanwhile, Flowers just cannot help noticing that there is some pecularities about the Ag O'Leary killing. How did the trio know that just that window they used to enter the house was open? Also, it seems that Dick Murphy, Ag O'Leary's husband stands to inherit a lot of money from Ag if she dies before she can divorce him. Then there are clues dropped by Tom McCall, when he calls Flowers because he wants to surrender.
Now Flowers is doubly trying to get to Sharp and the others -- first so he can stop the killings and second because he suspects that Sharp killed Ag for other reasons.
But its not going to be easy. Some local boys ambush Flowers and beat him to a pulp when he seeks out information about Murphy possibly ordering a hit on his wife, but they refuse to implicate Murphy.
Another possible source of information is an old friend of Murphy, but he is a drunk and hightails it out of there.
Meanwhile, Lewis Duke's forces are on the rampage as the killings do not stop and during a robbery -- a cop is killed and Sharp is wounded.
When McCall surrenders to Flowers, Duke's deputy tries to kill him first. Flowers stops him, but its clear that capturing the fugitives is not on Duke's agenda. Meanwhile McCall only has circumstantial evidence about Sharp possibly being hired to kill Ag,
Can Flowers figure out a way to capture or get Welsh and Sharp to surrender prior to more killings and before Duke's forces kill them? Can he get Sharp to testify against Duke Murphy?
As Welsh strives to keep Sharp alive in a farmhouse after more killings, Welsh makes a decision to surrender to Flowers. But will it work out? It all hinges on whether she can make it across a bridge over the Mad River.
In this hard charging novel, Sharp, Welsh and McCall are not the only killers, and sometimes justice for all killers is not a trial but a bullet.