A Minnesota cop tries to solve a case that includes a stolen relic, a Mossad agent, some terrorists and a sexy hillbilly. Minnesota Dept of Criminal Apprehension detective Virgil Flowers was supposed to have the day off. But when his boss asked him to escort a visiting Israeli investigator who is tracking a stolen artifact, it seemed like an easy assignment. But the artifact turned out to have been stolen by a Minnesota professor who is dying from cancer and the piece could upend what the world knows about King Solomon. So everyone is after the artifact, from some Palestinian terrorists to the host of a TV show devoted to archeology. And it gets even more complicated when it turns out the woman Virgil picked up at the airport isn't the investigator from the Israeli Archeological Society. She's a member of Mossad who is determined to get access to the artifact before it's turned into propaganda.
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Unfortunately for Virgil, he's also dealing with another case which starts to bleed into his artifact quest. Florence "Ma" Nobles is under investigation for running a counterfeit antique lumber ring and she manages to insert herself into the search for the missing relic. The Mossad agent disappears when the real Israeli investigator arrives and Virgil tries to track the various parties searching for the artifact. He manages to get word of a private auction, in which the artifact will be sold to the highest bidder. The Palestinians have the money to buy it, but would prefer to keep the money and disappear into the heartland of America. The TV star doesn't have the money to bid, but is hoping to convince the winner to allow him to take some photos and video of the artifact for his show.
But just before the auction is to take place, Mossad agent Tal Zahavi kidnaps Ellen, the daughter of the archeologist holding the artifact. Thanks to help from Ma, Virgil is able to break up the exchange, arrest Zahavi and save Ellen from harm. But not before her father passes away from his illness. The case is closed and Virgil thinks he can put everything behind him. But the dead man asked in his will be buried in Jerusalem and he also requested Virgil deliver his ashes to his family's crypt. When Virgil does, he recognizes the granite that lines the crypt's entrance and notices a piece is missing. He realizes that the piece was a fake and it was all an effort by this dying archeologist to provide some money for his family before he died.
Best part of story, including ending:
It's a nicely unexpected story that combines a traditional Minnesota crime story with a bit of Dan Brown. There are a lot of moving parts and you don't how it's going to end until you read the very last page.
Best scene in story:
For me, the best scene is the one in which Virgil talks to Ma and realizes that while she pretends to be this crazy hillbilly, she's actually a very smart woman just trying to make a living. And he also realizes that he's beginning to fall for her.
Opinion about the main character:
Virgil Flowers is the best kind of police officer. He has a healthy respect for the law, but he also is willing to overlook minor crimes if it serves a greater purpose. He believes in the intent of the law more than the line-by-line rule of law.