Kemper's Reviews > Buried Prey

Buried Prey by John Sandford
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Apr 21, 14

bookshelves: 2011, 5-0, crime-mystery, thriller, lucas-davenport
Read in July, 2011

In the best of the John Sandford’s Prey novels, there are usually two or three scenes where he brings the reader to a kind of momentum nirvana, a point where you’re turning the pages as fast as your eyes can scan the words. These aren’t necessarily action scenes, although Sandford can do action as well as anybody. More often these are points in the story where some break in the case has happened or some other event has left the police scrambling. People are being rousted out of bed. Phones are being shouted into. Police cars are rushing around with sirens blaring. The hunt is goddamn ON! And more than once I have found myself rising out of my chair or sitting up in bed with the urge to shout, “Go! Go! Go!”

With over 30 books to his credit, including this 21st Prey novel, you’d think Sandford would have started to run out of gas at some point. He’s managed this with only a few duds along the way and maintained a level of sheer entertainment that‘s pretty amazing. Even more surprising is that that I think the last two books he wrote, this one and last year’s Bad Blood, are among his very best.

When Lucas Davenport was introduced way back in 1989 in Rules of Prey, he was a hot shot Minneapolis police lieutenant who got called into the high profile shit storm cases that sold newspapers and cost politicians elections. Lucas is smart, tough, and a master manipulator with a natural feel for media and politics that helps him make his bosses look good, but what he really lives for are the cases that allowed him to hunt the worst killers. Over the years he’s advanced in law enforcement and settled down a great deal while still loving to jump into the interesting investigations. Here, Sandford gives us a look at Lucas before he we met him in the first book.

In present day Minneapolis, the bodies of two girls are found buried in a basement during a housing demolition. The case goes back to the ‘80s when Davenport was still a patrolman. Young Davenport liked being a cop but was starting to find patrol boring and thinking about a career change. When the two young girls went missing, he was temporarily assigned to the detectives and sent to go around knocking on doors. Thanks to a little luck and his own ambition, Davenport ended up being a key figure in the case and his career took off. Lucas wasn’t satisfied with the resolution at the time, and with the discovery of the bodies, he fears that he’s responsible for letting a child killer roam free for over twenty years.

The first half of this book is a flashback to the younger Davenport, and as a long time fan of the character, it’s a helluva a lot of fun. Sandford shows us a younger, hungrier Davenport who still has the qualities we’ve always known in the older character, but he makes him a bit rougher along with being more ruthless and reckless. Younger Davenport is still figuring out the detective game, but this first case is his introduction to the thrill of the hunt. It’d turn him into a stone cold junkie for the chase, and Davenport’s addiction to catching bad guys is still present as a middle aged husband and father.

Sandford is still my favorite of the thriller writers you’ll see on the best seller lists, and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down yet.

Next: Lucas gets mugged and investigates the massacre of a family in Stolen Prey.
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Comments (showing 1-8)




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James Thane Great review Kemper, and it was a lot of fun to see the young Davenport strutting his stuff and aiming for higher things.


Crys Williams Impressed you can resist the urge to shout when you read a Sanford novel...I can't! :-)


Kemper Crys wrote: "Impressed you can resist the urge to shout when you read a Sanford novel...I can't! :-)"

It's only my iron will power that allows me to hold back..


message 5: by Trudi (new)

Trudi Great review Kemper, now a question for you? If a gal were to pick up one of Sandford's Prey novels, would it be to her benefit to read the very first one, or to dive in right here right now with number 21?


message 4: by Kemper (last edited Jan 01, 2012 06:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kemper Trudi wrote: "Great review Kemper, now a question for you? If a gal were to pick up one of Sandford's Prey novels, would it be to her benefit to read the very first one, or to dive in right here right now with n..."

Thanks! It depends on a couple of things. If you think that you might be interested in the series as a whole, and if you're the kind of person (like me) who loathes spoilers or getting a story out of order, then you'd probably want to start at the begining.

While almost every book is a self contained story that could be read by itself (There are a couple that are direct sequels to earlier books.) there's a kind of arc to Lucas's life and career. So if you read one of the latest ones, you're going to know how a lot of the stuff he dealt with along the way came out.

I'd caution that his one has a pretty big plot point regarding one of the regular characters that would probably impact your reading of some of the earlier books, too.


message 3: by Trudi (new)

Trudi Thanks Kemper. I think I'm the kinda girl that has to start at the beginning. I love that there are so many of these books now, so that if I really do get hooked, I would have lots to look forward to!


Mike The hunt is goddamn ON! And more than once I have found myself rising out of my chair or sitting up in bed with the urge to shout, “Go! Go! Go!”

You captured it perfectly! And the Virgil F#%*ing Flowers and Kidd novels are the same way.


Kemper Mike wrote: "You captured it perfectly! And the Virgil F#%*ing Flowers and Kidd novels are the same way."

His knack for creating momentum is a big part of what keeps me reading his books.


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