John Sandford’s Prey
series has had no shortage of brutal crimes in its long history, but this one hits an new level of That-Is-Messed-Up! by starting off with an entire family including young children being extensively tortured and then killed. Hell, even their dogs get whacked! You know it’s going to be a rough ride when not even the pets are safe.
Lucas Davenport may be a tough ass cop, but apparently even he isn’t immune to street crime when he is mugged while out jogging. (The muggers aren’t aware of how lucky they are that Lucas doesn’t carry his gun while running because he’s killed more criminals than the electric chair at Sing Sing.) Left with a broken arm and wounded pride, Lucas makes tracking his assailants down his new hobby until the aforementioned massacre of an upscale family occurs and puts him on the trail of the killers and a group of clever thieves running a complicated scheme.
The last couple in this series and the Virgil Flowers spin-offs had been some of the best stuff I’ve read by Sandford yet, and this one was on pace to join it’s ranks. There’s an interesting and complex crime behind the killings to unravel and as well as a suspenseful manhunt angle with plenty of twists and turns. Davenport is at his best while juggling all the elements of the case as well as pulling one of his most devious moves yet late in the novel. As a bonus, we also get a fair amount of interactions between Davenport and Flowers when Lucas asks him to track down the muggers who broke his arm.
Unfortunately, Sandford fumbles the ball a bit at the end of this one. (view spoiler)[ This is the third time in four books that there’s been a serious threat to Davenport’s family. It probably would have been most effective in this book with the brutal murders at the beginning and then this attack on the Davenport homestead at the end, but overall he’s just gone to that well too often.
There are also some moments that seem out of sync here. Earlier in the book, Lucas and his adopted daughter Lettie go to the gun range, and we get a recap of Lettie’s background as a tough kid who has had to defend her life before. Yet later during the attack when Lettie is getting the gun safe open, Sandford yet again tells us that Lettie grew up as a tough farm kid who has had to fight before. Did he forget that he covered that already and it didn’t get caught in editing? I don’t know, but it’s kind of jarring to get the info repeated during what should be the tensest moment of the book. (hide spoiler)]
Still, this yet another highly entertaining crime thriller from one of the masters of the genre.Next:
Lucas vs. the Democrat in Silken Prey.