Neil Collins's Reviews > Wicked Prey

Wicked Prey by John Sandford
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Jun 29, 09

Read in June, 2009

I’ve been a fan of John Sandford’s Prey series for many years, and I wasn’t disappointed in this, his 19th installment. For those unfamiliar, the Prey series (Each title being some sort of prey; Chosen Prey, Rules of Prey, etc…) are centered upon Lucas Davenport, formerly of Minneapolis PD and now heading up the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). He’s a tough, smart, and financially independent cop who doesn’t mind both getting his hands dirty, and occasionally doing dirty deeds to get his perp off the streets and save some lives.

Wicked Prey spins up as the 2008 Republican Convention is unfolding and takes off with a steady and building energy. The story is a little bit predictable, but Sandford manages to throw in enough subtle twists and turns to keep even a die-hard fan guessing a little.

One of the best things about a series this long written by an author this good is that the characters really do grow and evolve. Davenport started out several steps to the left on the evolutionary scale; maybe around the Neanderthal level. He’s now more settled, a little calmer, and isn’t nailing the hottest chick in the book anymore. Instead, he’s a married man with a 14 year old ward and a baby to be worried about. And worry he must; Letty, his daughter, is as smart as him, dynamically independent, and has a teenager’s lack of foresight and fear.

Admittedly, this isn’t a breakthrough literary work, but it is an exciting and interesting read. I do have a couple small nits to pick, though I did thoroughly enjoy the book. First is that Sandford has been progressively using more and more run-on sentences, substituting “and” for punctuation. It makes it difficult to read certain passages, and seems like a laziness problem. On page 81 a single sentence went 16 lines and contained 17 “and”s, taking up more than half the page. That is ONE LONG SENTENCE! (And yes, I HAD to count it as I just couldn’t believe it)

The other thing I had issue with is the positioning of the characters politically. I’ve been in and around law enforcement for 30 years and can tell you that, out side of chiefs and others with political aspirations, the vast majority of cops are very politically conservative, and tend to be mostly Republicans or Libertarians with a conservative leaning. That Davenport and most of his guys are Democrats has been long established in the series, but this time around it kept popping up like a bad penny! I personally don’t care about their politics, it’s the story I was there for; what I didn’t care for was the Republican bashing for the sake of bashing Republicans.

That aside, Wicked Prey is a good read, though I strongly recommend starting much earlier in the series if you want to fully understand the whole “Prey Universe”. Just don’t start with the first book, Rules of Prey, or it might turn you off to Davenport before you get to know him well enough.
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