Kemper's Reviews > Rules of Prey

Rules of Prey by John Sandford
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Apr 21, 14

bookshelves: crime-mystery, 5-0, serial-killers, lucas-davenport

A smart and tough cop who drives a Porsche on the job as he hunts a sadistic serial killer in the late ‘80s. Yeah, yeah. I know this book should totally suck, but the amazing thing is that it doesn’t. Neither does the long-running series that followed.

Lieutenant Lucas Davenport is officially the head of the intelligence division of the Minneapolis police force, but his real job title should be Head Rat Catcher. When big cases that get media attention happen, Davenport gets called in because not only is he a good cop who has built up a huge network of street informants, he’s got a knack for playing the angles that keep too much crap from blowing back on his bosses. When a psycho nicknamed the Mad Dog starts a killing spree and leaves behind notes outlining his rules of murder, Davenport finds himself drawn into a dangerous and personal contest of wills.

John Sandford (real name John Camp) was a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who covered crime in Minnneapolis, and his books have a casual way of making the procedural and political side of police work seem authentic in the context of thriller plots. Sandford’s easy-to-read style often masks how good he really is it at coming with intelligent and action-filled books that put most of the others of this type to shame.

Even after 20+ books, Davenport remains one of my favorite cop characters. The schtick of him being rich and playing by his own rules should make him a bad cliché, but Sandford gave him enough personality to get you to overlook that. For starters, he’s kind of bastard in a lot of ways, especially in these early days. As a guy who made his money as a designer of role playing games, Davenport is a master manipulator who won’t hesitate to use any ploy to get his man, even if he burns some people in the process. And he won’t lose any sleep about committing a crime if he thinks it’s necessary.

Lucas is definitely a guy who believes that the ends justify the means. That’s part of what’s kept him interesting for over 20 years.

Next: Lucas vs. Native Americans in Shadow Prey
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Michael You nail the attractions very well. I won't feel so guilty now for having spent so much time with Lucas instead of the "real" world. I must have just been getting some mentoring from an older brother it would have been cool to have.


message 2: by Jonathan (new) - added it

Jonathan Peto It's funny how much this has going against it: rich kid with a Porsche, serial killer, late 80s, rich kid with a Porshe.


message 3: by Kemper (last edited Apr 24, 2013 06:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kemper Michael wrote: "You nail the attractions very well. I won't feel so guilty now for having spent so much time with Lucas instead of the "real" world. I must have just been getting some mentoring from an older bro..."

Nothing to feel guilty about. Sandford gives good thriller and there's no shame in being one of his customers.


Kemper Jonathan wrote: "It's funny how much this has going against it: rich kid with a Porsche, serial killer, late 80s, rich kid with a Porshe."

He's around 40 in this so not a kid, but your point is still valid. The hook that Davenport is such a devious thinker that he made a small fortune by designing intricate games helps ease the pain, too.


ilovebakedgoods (Teresa) It's been years since I've read this one but your review is making me considering starting this series over. I haven't even finished it!


Kemper ilovebakedgoods (Teresa) wrote: "It's been years since I've read this one but your review is making me considering starting this series over. I haven't even finished it!"

It's still going, too. New one out next month with Silken Prey.


ilovebakedgoods (Teresa) Oh, yeah. I should say I haven't caught up, haha. I might just start over from book 1 because it's been a few years and I have forgotten a lot of little details.


James Thane Yeah, a great beginning to a really fine series.


message 9: by Pat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pat C. Liked your review since I'm also a longstanding fan of John Sandford. Lucas D. definitely has his appeal but I'm really hooked on the Virgil Flowers series. Virgil is more of your typical Minnesota farm boy character, which is not to say he isn't hip, smart, funny and likeable. Davenport is his boss so he always makes a cameo appearance in the Virgil Flowers books.
I grew up in that area of the country so I always get a thrill out of hearing about my old stomping grounds. Not that I did any of the kind of stomping that goes on in these books.


Kemper Pat wrote: "Liked your review since I'm also a longstanding fan of John Sandford. Lucas D. definitely has his appeal but I'm really hooked on the Virgil Flowers series. Virgil is more of your typical Minnesota..."

I liked the Virgil Flowers character but the first couple of books didn't have the same thrill for me until Bad Blood. That seems like when it kicked up to a Davenport level.


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