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Lucas Davenport #25

Gathering Prey

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The extraordinary new Lucas Davenport thriller from #1 New York Times–bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize–winner John Sandford.
 
They call them Travelers. They move from city to city, panhandling, committing no crimes—they just like to stay on the move. And now somebody is killing them.

Lucas Davenport’s adopted daughter, Letty, is home from college when she gets a phone call from a woman Traveler she’d befriended in San Francisco. The woman thinks somebody’s killing her friends, she’s afraid she knows who it is, and now her male companion has gone missing. She’s hiding out in North Dakota, and she doesn’t know what to do.

Letty tells Lucas she’s going to get her, and, though he suspects Letty’s getting played, he volunteers to go with her. When he hears the woman’s story, though, he begins to think there’s something in it. Little does he know. In the days to come, he will embark upon an odyssey through a subculture unlike any he has ever seen, a trip that will not only put the two of them in danger—but just may change the course of his life.

407 pages, Hardcover

First published April 28, 2015

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About the author

John Sandford

134 books7,920 followers
John Sandford was born John Roswell Camp on February 23, 1944, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He attended the public schools in Cedar Rapids, graduating from Washington High School in 1962. He then spent four years at the University of Iowa, graduating with a bachelor's degree in American Studies in 1966. In 1966, he married Susan Lee Jones of Cedar Rapids, a fellow student at the University of Iowa. He was in the U.S. Army from 1966-68, worked as a reporter for the Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian from 1968-1970, and went back to the University of Iowa from 1970-1971, where he received a master's degree in journalism. He was a reporter for The Miami Herald from 1971-78, and then a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer-Press from 1978-1990; in 1980, he was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, and he won the Pulitzer in 1986 for a series of stories about a midwestern farm crisis. From 1990 to the present he has written thriller novels. He's also the author of two non-fiction books, one on plastic surgery and one on art. He is the principal financial backer of a major archeological project in the Jordan Valley of Israel, with a website at www.rehov.org In addition to archaeology, he is deeply interested in art (painting) and photography. He both hunts and fishes. He has two children, Roswell and Emily, and one grandson, Benjamin. His wife, Susan, died of metastasized breast cancer in May, 2007, and is greatly missed.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,746 reviews
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,388 reviews6,659 followers
March 7, 2019
Lucas Davenport relentlessly tracks down a murderous gang of hippies?!? It’s not even my birthday!

Davenport’s adopted daughter Letty befriends a young woman, Skye, who is part of a subculture called Travelers who wander around the country living like hobos. After her friend is murdered Skye contacts Letty for help and tells her that the people responsible are a pack of jackals led by a guy named Pilate. Skye is convinced that Pilate’s gang roams around in an RV torturing and killing people.

Letty gets Lucas involved, and his initial skepticism fades as they find evidence that indicates that Pilate and his people have left a trail of bodies in their wake. Davenport starts tracking them across the upper Midwest through small towns and the weirdness of Juggalo gatherings. (You can do a Google image search if you want to an idea of what that looks like, but don‘t say I didn't warn you.) Things get messy as usually happens when Lucas starts trying to run down killers, and he also has to deal with a nagging middle manager who wants to know why he’s wasting the taxpayer money trying to stop murderers who aren't killing anyone in their state?

OK, so I guess they’re not technically hippies although there is a certain Charles Manson family type vibe going on here. I still like to think of them as murderous hippies although even Manson would probably hesitate to sign up with this crew considering how crazily blood thirsty they are.

While most Prey novels generally feature Lucas trying to figure out who the bad guy is for at least part of the book, this plays out a little differently in that Lucas almost immediately knows who he’s looking for and what they've done. The challenge here is in trying to find a group of people living off the grid as they roam around. Things soon escalate and the majority of the story is a straight up manhunt that allows Sandford to play to his strength of building the sense of momentum and tension that make his books such page turners.

The one slightly off-key note in this is Letty. Sandford has made her an increasing part of the story in some of the recent novels, and she does make for a great smart-ass foil for Lucas. However, it seems like she’s being set up to star in her own series at some point soon, and sometimes the ways she’s inserted into the plot feel forced. She makes for a fun sidekick generally, but it’s always more fun to read about Batman than Robin. So it was a bit of relief when she fades into the background when the story really gets rolling, and Lucas becomes the center of the book’s attention.

There’s also a sense of Lucas getting fed up with his position in a government agency. While he’s always had a natural feel for helping out his bosses with the media, Lucas has never had much patience with office politics or bureaucratic rules, and he’s seriously frustrated at the current American institutional mentality of being more concerned with the budget than in actually doing the job. Throw in him dealing with turning 50, and Lucas is one grumpy individual at the start of this one. All of this gives the book the feeling that it’s about to boil over, and that Davenport will have to consider making some changes in his life.

But whenever Lucas is in a funk, he can always count on the adrenaline rush of hunting bad guys to cheer him up, and he’s certainly one cheerful bastard by the end of this one.

Next: Lucas gets political in Extreme Prey.

Also posted at Kemper's Book Blog.
Profile Image for Sheyla ✎.
1,801 reviews457 followers
June 21, 2022
Back into the Lucas Davenport World.

Lucas's adopted daughter, Letty is in college now. Here is where she meets a couple of Travelers and buys them a meal. When Letty comes back to Minnesota, she gets a phone call from Skye, the woman traveler she befriended in California and she is asking Letty for help. Her friend (whom Letty met) has gone missing and she thinks that Pilate and his people have tortured him and killed him.

When Letty tells the story to Lucas, he tells her it's probably nothing but decides to accompany Letty to meet her. Lucas soon finds himself believing Skye and realizing that this group has murdered others before. The hunt will send Lucas outside his state in search of Pilate and his people through Juggalo gatherings. After an incident with Letty, his pursuit of Pilate becomes personal.

Lucas had to deal with a band of crazies that maimed and murdered without thinking twice. Scary people who felt more like a cult than anything else. They drove through states causing harm to innocents.

Another good installment to the series although not a favorite. I liked that Lucas is helped by small-town sheriffs and cops in this one. It made the whole ordeal more believable.

Also at the end of this novel, Lucas has to make some decisions that have been percolating for a while.

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Profile Image for Andrew Smith.
1,018 reviews556 followers
June 28, 2019
According to a web site I was checking out last week, the four personal traits that define an effective leader are: honesty, openness, decisiveness and conscientiousness. Of all the cops in all the crime fiction I’ve read (quite a lot), Lucas Davenport is the one who most obviously possess all of these – and he does so in spades! You can also add humour, personal gravitas and a huge dose of charisma to the list. I guess you could say I’m a fan.

It’s a pleasure to welcome him back for his 25th appearance – well, actually it’s slightly more than that if you add his cameos appearances in Sandford’s offshoot series featuring one of Davenport’s agents, Virgil Flowers. His normal gang are here - Shrake, Jenkins and Dell – but they play small parts in this story. This time around it’s daughter Letty who provides the major backup to Lucas. In this tale Lucas, in his role as a senior figure in Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (I do wish Sandford would come up with a snappier department name), is alerted to the plight of a busker called Skye, by his daughter. Skye’s friend Henry has disappeared and she fears that he’s been abducted by a dark dude by the name of Porter Pilate, AKA ‘the devil’. Pilate travels around with a band of hangers-on and it’s feared he gets his kick out of killing people he meets along the way, often in the most gruesome manner imaginable. I wont go into it too much, but suffice to say Lucas goes searching for Pilate at a gathering of the Juggalos in Michigan’s isolated Upper Peninsula (U.P.).

I’m not sure how plausible the whole tale is but it really is great fun. There’s already tension between Lucas and his bureaucratic boss and this is exacerbated by Davenport’s maverick insistence on chasing around after Pilate and his crew whilst ignoring calls for him to focus on a more politically sensitive case. Then there’s the father/daughter dynamic, as Letty gets ever more involved in the chase.

I’ve noticed that a number of crime fiction writers pitch their action in some of the remoter parts of America, where law enforcement is in short supply – maybe a hick sheriff and some dumber than dumb deputies. I know Lee Child has done this with Reacher, on occasion; it allows a certain amount of latitude in terms of what can go on without heavyweight intervention. And such is the case here - out in the wilds of the U.P. all hell breaks loose.

It’s escapist nonsense, of course it is. But it’s high quality escapist nonsense. I listened to the whole thing, brilliantly read by Richard Ferrone, with a stupid smile on my face. Bring on the next one please, Mr Sandford, and make it snappy.
Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 8 books6,901 followers
May 4, 2016
The twenty-fifth book in John Sandford's Prey series opens when his adopted daughter, Letty, befriends a pair of Travelers while at college in California. The two are a couple and, like other Travelers, they move from place to place, most often camping out and living as cheaply as possible, sometimes panhandling to make ends meet. The two tell Letty that they are planning to be in Minnesota later in the summer en route to a series of festivals. After treating them to lunch, Letty gives them her phone number and tell them to call if they go through the Twin Cities.

Later, the two Travelers fall in with bad company, a group somewhat resembling the Manson family and led by a charismatic figure named Pilate. Sometime later, the female Traveler, Skye, calls Letty in a panic, afraid that Pilate and his gang have murdered her boyfriend. Letty arranges a bus ticket for Skye and convinces her father, Lucas Davenport of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, to meet the bus with her.

Davenport is initially skeptical, but as Skye tells the story, he comes to believe that there might be something to it. At Letty's urging, he begins to investigate and soon he will be wandering all over the Upper Midwest in pursuit of Pilate and his obnoxious associates.

I'm a huge fan of this series, but this book did not work for me nearly as well as most of the others have. In the first place, the first portion of the book is largely a Letty Davenport novel, rather than a Lucas Davenport novel. No offense to the kid; she's been a great minor character in novels up to this point, but she's not nearly as compelling a protagonist as her father, and no one buys the Prey series to follow her adventures.

Also, the story takes Davenport pretty far afield from his usual haunts into the rural areas of the Upper Midwest. One of the BCA bureaucrats up the chain of command wonders why Lucas is racing all over the place attempting to solve crimes in other states rather than tending to business at home. Lucas gets angry with the guy, but he raises a legitimate point. The reader also wonders what in the hell Lucas is doing, other than simply trying to do his daughter a big favor.

The story also suffers a bit because the villains in this story are not nearly up to Sandford's usual standards. These books rise and fall to a considerable extent based upon the antagonists that Lucas has to track down. Sandford has created some great ones in the past, but Pilate and his confederates don't seem nearly that interesting and, frankly, don't seem worthy of having someone the caliber of Lucas Davenport hard on their trail.

If that's not bad enough, this is one of those stories in which a couple of the characters routinely do REALLY STUPID THINGS, in spite of being warned not to. These are things that no sensible person would do and which advance the story but which also cause the reader to shake his or her head and lose patience both with the characters and with the story.

Additionally, Davenport is basically out there on his own, without his usual compatriots. And, partly as a consequence, this book is not nearly as funny as most of the others in the series. Sanford has a very rare gift in that he can drop hilariously funny scenes into a story that is otherwise dark and disturbing, and somehow it works--it doesn't seem inappropriate or out of place as it does when many other authors attempt it. This story has a few such moments, but not nearly as many as usual. This book needs the presence of people like Del, Shake and Jenkins who are absent from the scene. That F***ing Virgil Flowers makes a cameo appearance and when he does, the book really comes alive for a couple of chapters; otherwise it seems awfully flat for a Lucas Davenport book.

I really don't want to think that this series might be running out of gas, and I hope that this is just a slight bump along the way. There have been signs for a while that Sandford might be thinking about taking the character in another direction, and if Lucas has come to that proverbial fork in the road, then it's probably time for him to take it. I'm not really worried yet; my intuition tells me that Lucas will be back up to speed by the time the next novel rolls around, but Gathering Prey will never rank among my favorite books in what is, overall, one of my favorite series of all time.
Profile Image for Alex is The Romance Fox.
1,461 reviews1,078 followers
September 27, 2015
What is the secret to keeping a long-running series successfully going for 25 books? Some of the challenges facing any author are keeping a character fresh and interesting and continuously having to come up with new, inventive and great story ideas.

John Sandford has certainly met these challenges in Gathering Prey, the #25 installment in his superb The Prey Series.

If you are a fan of this series like I am, you will not be disappointed in the latest story of the Lucas Davenport that we have seen grow and evolve both personally and professionally and come to know over a long period of time.

Lucas Davenport, Chief Investigator for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is working on a case when his adopted daughter, Letty asks him to help Skye, a Traveler, she had met a while back in San Francisco, with the disappearance of her Traveler companion. Skye also tells the story of a fellow Traveler named Pilate, who is the leader of a Charles Mason like group that is killing and torturing other Traveler members.
Lucas agrees to help look into these allegations and soon, together with Letty, becomes involved with solving the number of murders and disappearances of members of the Traveler groups.

The action never loses steam and Lucas travels to the Upper Peninsula, working with the small towns law enforcement to find and capture the ruthless killers.

Some of my thoughts:

The first chapter, where Letty meets Skye and her travelling companion in San Francisco and the interaction between the three was a bit weird. Would I feed two people singing for money and had never met before? Maybe, probably. Would I give them my telephone number? If I say no, you would probably say….why not??? Is it because they’re homeless…shame on you!!! No, that wasn’t it!! It was the fact that the whole interlude did not feel real or true to me….but one could say…look, Letty did that out of kindness to someone who has less than her! Okay, maybe!

The vivid depiction of the landscape absolutely stunning – the remoteness, the small and isolated small towns in the UP…..……
 photo 90dc7851-6811-41e8-93e0-1419eb0de117_zpslsugecn2.png photo unnamed_zpso5qukofd.jpg
not knowing what the UP was…….looked it up, via Google naturally, and discovered it was Upper Peninsula….well, I learnt something new…

The characters in the story are described in a way that they feel real and are what one would expect of people to act and talk in that world.
I found the Juggalos part of the plot totally fascinating. At first, I thought that the whole thing was created in the author’s head……but no, these characters actually exist….
 photo download_zpsstnpbplh.jpg
I had never ever of this sub-culture before…and yes, I did go and google it as well…..and how interesting was that…..
Sandford noted to blackfive.net,“The Juggalos are fans and followers of the group, “Insane Clown Posse.” They “travel” to see this group perform. They look like street people, but have bike packs, staffs, hiking boots, and a lot of the women have dogs. For awhile the FBI had them classified as a gang, but there is a lawsuit filed to declassify them. I guess the best description is for them to be considered a modern day hobo. They are not homeless and just “travel” around because they like it. The Juggalo subculture is split between violent and nonviolent factions. Some of the more violent ones have committed acts against the non-criminal ones.
I liked the relationship and interaction between Lucas and Letty.

Fast paced, suspense, humor, fantastic dialogue, realistic characters, dramatic landscapes, and some graphic violence make this a pretty good, no great read.

And one of my favorite quotes is from Weather, Luca’s wife saying to him as he’s about to leave home to go out and catch some more bad guys……
“Don’t get shot; it’d be really inconvenient for everybody.”
Profile Image for Liz.
1,920 reviews2,361 followers
December 21, 2017
This Davenport mystery is based on a Charlie Manson like cult, traveling the country and leaving dead bodies in its wake. Extremely entertaining, with a great mix of humor and suspense. I listened to this and the narrator was superb.
Profile Image for Ruth.
64 reviews18 followers
July 17, 2022
The Travelers move from city to city, panhandling but committing no crimes. They like to stay on the move. But now someone is killing them. Letty, Lucas Davenport's adopted daughter is home from college and gets a phone call from Skye, one of the Travelers she befriended in San Francisco who thinks somebody is killing her friends, she's also afraid she knows who it is and now her male companion is missing and doesn't know what to do and is now hiding out in North Dakota. When Letty tells Lucas she's going to North Dakota to pick up Skye Lucas thinks Letty might be getting played and volunteers to go with her. When he hears Skye's story Lucas starts to think there might be something to it. In the day's to come they embark on a strange odyssey through a subculture unlike any Lucas seen before. A trip that not only puts them both in danger but may change the course of Lucas's life forever. Having read the entire Davenport series this was my least favorite. Letty was more involved in the investigation than she should have been. I know Letty has killed people and knows a thing or two about guns, but she's a civilian not a cop and no civilian would have been allowed to get that involved in any investigation. Plus I wasn't a fan of the storyline either. Both seemed a bit over the top for me. I'm still a huge fan of John Sandford and Lucas Davenport and even though it pains me to give anything by Sandford less than four stars I have to give this one three stars.
Profile Image for Mike French.
430 reviews91 followers
June 27, 2015
Another 5 star Lucas Davenport novel! This series by John Sandford is one of my all time favorites. If you haven't read any of the PREY books, do yourself a favorite and start ASAP! Best if you start at #1. You have a lot of enjoyable reading ahead, as this is #25
Profile Image for Cindy Newton.
600 reviews127 followers
August 10, 2015
This is the 25th book in the Prey series, and I've been reading them pretty much since the first one came out. When the new book appears on the shelves, I buy it--no need to read the jacket, no need to flip through the pages, no need to even check the reviews. What's to check? It's a Sanford--the quality is guaranteed! This book is no exception.

Now, I know there are a lot of detective/crime books out there--a LOT. And I know that some of them are probably really good. For some reason, they don't appeal to me. I apparently gave my heart to Sandford years ago, and could never think of looking at another detective series. So I don't know how things are handled in other series, but in the Prey novels, the reader is clued in to the identity of the killer from the beginning (with one notable exception--Winter Prey, 4th book in the series--and I almost died of the suspense!). Davenport, the detective in the series, usually doesn't know who the killer is until further into the story, but in this book, he knew from the beginning, as well. It didn't detract from the suspense one iota.

Davenport and his crew are trying to track down a Manson-like cult of crazies as they drift around the Midwest, leaving a trail of corpses in their wake. The difficulties of trying to find and capture people who are homeless, off the grid, and insane to boot keeps the tension ratcheting up. Despite the impressive number of cold-blooded killers Davenport has either captured or killed over the years, he claims that no one has ever seen the like of this group before, and their remorseless killing continues even as his noose is tightening around them and they are on the run.

There were a couple of interesting things in this book--one being Letty, Lucas's adopted daughter. She's a smart-ass and a bad-ass in her own right, and it sounds as though Sanford may be positioning her for a series of her own. After all, since time is actually marching on in this series, Lucas can't be depended on to keep the evil forces at bay forever! He just turned fifty (and is not happy about it!), and the books will probably not be as believable if he is still being shown kicking ass and taking names with his customary flair when he's seventy, seventy-five. Not that it can't be done! For the sake of realism, though, Sanford would then have to show Davenport going home to ice down his aching joints and take his blood pressure and cholesterol medicine! Letty with a series would be pretty great, I think--she's not Lucas's daughter by blood, but she is all his in spirit. She's got his fearlessness and his ruthlessness, which makes for a good story. Another interesting tidbit that bobbed to the surface was the less-than-satisfying state of affairs at the BCA. The current chief, Sands, is too much of a bureaucrat, and is the kind of obtuse dimwit who majors on minors and is too obsessed with going by the book and following the rules to appreciate the staggering successes of someone who doesn't. The situation seems to auger an impending shift in Davenport's career trajectory. There are hints planted as the plot progresses, and this thickens when Lucas meets and works with some excellent small-town deputies. Will they have a role in his future plans? Where will he end up? Is the 25th book the last to feature Lucas's adventures? None of these questions are answered, so we'll just have to wait and see!

I highly recommend this series, even if crime novels are not your favorite genre. Each one is a roller-coaster ride of suspense, and the characterization grows and deepens with each successive book. I personally never start a Sanford novel unless I have time to read without interruption--I know from experience how almost impossible it is to put one down if I'm foolish enough to start it in the middle of the work-week!
Profile Image for Albert Riehle.
497 reviews47 followers
May 3, 2015
I'm going to break this review up into two parts. In the first part, I'll review the book itself, and by that, I mean the plot line that is unique to this book only. In the second part, I'll talk about the series as a whole and how this book plays into it--I'll warn you in advance, while the first part won't have any spoilers, the second part--the part about the overall series plot arc--will have spoilers. You've been warned.

This Book: This book starts with Letty and for my two cents, that's something that we should get to say more often. She's one of my favorite characters and, I think, a little underused in the whole series. So, it's nice to see Letty get some page-time right off the bat and be at the center of this book for a while. Even better is that Letty is unabashedly Letty. She's got tooth, much like Davenport. While Davenport has biological kids by two women, it's Letty, his adoptive daughter, who looks like him and has that same, wolfish, predator instinct. While away at school, she befriends a couple of Travelers--like hobos without the trains--itinerant who, while technically homeless, aren't exactly bums. Letty buys them some food and makes some new friends--but a few months later one calls Letty to tell her that the other friend, Henry, is missing and possibly been killed.

Well, enter Lucas Davenport and Letty who jump into the thick of things and soon realize they are dealing with a gang of crazies on a murderous rampage across the country. The story takes them into the inner workings of the Travelers and even into the heart of a couple Gatherings--that's right, the Juggalo festivals of the Insane Clown Posse groupies. Eventually, it leads Lucas into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where Lucas has to depend on gun-toting locals for the help he needs to bring down this modern-day Manson family.

It's a good book. In typical Sandford fashion, the books starts on an even keel and eventually just tilts until it's breakneck pace pushes it into the end. It's got an interesting group of bad guys, some fun, new heroes and it's going to be a fun read for any fan of the series. I highly recommend it.

The Series: (yes, I'm going to speak openly about how this book in context to the entire series and as such, there will be spoilers for the new book--don't read this next bit until you've read the book).

This is the 25th book in the series and one of my favorite things about this series is the plot arc that extends from book to book. I made note, a few books back, that Sandford was winding this series down to a conclusion. After finishing this book, I have to wonder if 25 was the nice round number that marks the actual transition--the end of Prey and the beginning of...whatever is next for Lucas.

And I think I've caught enough of the subtext to guess that the next book will see Lucas out of Minnesota. The politics and bullshit have been getting to Lucas and in this book, it all comes to a head and he simply says fuck it and quits. He has other options handed to him on a platter, but chooses to drop the mic and walk off stage. Davenport out, bitches!

But Sandford let's us know there's a next chapter to this overall story arc. The final scene between Lucan and Letty guarantees it. And the scene with the governor--soon to be VP--foreshadows it. My prediction is this: Gathering Prey will be the last "prey" titled novel. The next book will take Lucas' leash off and let him out of MN permanently. He'll follow the governor to D.C.--at least for work, and become the new V.P.'s go-to guy the way he's been for the governor with the BCI. Some new force will be invented for Lucas to head up--maybe it'll be a rogue wing of the FBI (who knows?)--and Lucas will be investigating cases as troubleshooter for the VP, nation-wide. And Lucas will bring some old friends along to be part of the crew--and probably some new ones--and maybe even a few of the gun-nuts from this book. The "prey' name will go away and each book from here on out will have it's own title.

That's my guess. Either way, I'm happy the series will continue onward.

I'm a big fan--of the book and the series and I can't wait to see what comes next.
Profile Image for Paula K (on hiatus).
414 reviews428 followers
September 13, 2015
The Prey series by John Sandford is one of my favorite crime thrillers in fiction. Love Lucas Davenport. This is # 25 in the series and I've read all of them.

Gathering Prey is different from Sandford's usual story line where Davenport is solving a crime in Minnesota. This time the book centers on daughter Letty. I do like Letty, but I couldn't get past her meeting up with Skye, a Traveler, on the streets of California. Too contrived. We are introduced to a Charles Manson type of character named Pilate. A nasty piece of work. These Travelers do finally end up in Minnesota which brings Lucas and his crew back on the trail.

Probably my least favorite in the Prey series.
A 3.5 rounded up to 4 stars out of 5 just because Lucas Davenport appears.
Profile Image for Alex Cantone.
Author 3 books32 followers
October 23, 2021
��If he’s really a Juggalo freak, he could show in Sault Ste Marie next week, and then Detroit…you could hide a jumbo jet in the UP so nobody could find it.”

After reading (and enjoying) some of the earliest books in the Lucas Davenport “prey” series, I jumped ahead to #25: Gathering Prey. Davenport, now in his fifties, still married to Weather, is disillusioned with the petty politics dogging Minnesota’s BCA (Bureau of Criminal Assessment) – especially with the case of an accused wife-killer, defended by a hot-shot lawyer.

But the story opens in San Francisco. The couple’s adopted daughter, Letty, studying at Stanford, befriends two travellers, Skye and Henry, busking in Union Square. She shouts them a Macca’s meal, listening to their stories of life on the road, including the bad dudes – disciples of a man they call "Pilot”. Letty gives Skye some emergency cash and her phone number. Fast forward: the pair are in Sturgis, South Dakota, at the motorcycle rally, Henry is lured in by a couple of the bad dudes for his chance to be an actor, tortured and slashed to death in a drug-fuelled thrill-killing. Skye contacts Letty, gets over to Minnesota, and a sceptical Lucas listens to her story of the missing friend.

I was a little sceptical myself at first, especially when the story revolves around two groups: Pilate and his disciples: thrill-killers living off-grid – (a thinly-veiled bunch resembling the Charles Manson mob), and the Juggalos - followers of the Insane Clown Posse, who attend “Gatherings” across the country. (Mostly harmless, though I had read of instances of people dressed as clowns with painted faces, staging armed hold-ups.)

Back to the story: Skye kidnapped, Skye rescued, Skye finding out what happened to Henry and taking off for the Juggalo gathering in Hayward, WI to confront Pilate (as if?) and Letty following Skye – both pursued by Lucas in what can only be described as a bad hair day – one killed, one injured and rescued, the third narrowly escaping death. With the help of a selfie taken on a Juggalos cell phone, Lucas gets the break he needs.

They couldn’t make out the tag on the phone screen, but a deputy had Morrow e-mail the photo to a friend of his in Hayward, an amateur wildlife photographer, who ran the shot through Lightroom and two minutes later came back with both the license plate and a make and model on the car, an aging Subaru Forester.

Second guessing Pilate’s movements, from there it’s on to Sault Ste Marie in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, hosting the next “Gathering” of the Juggalos. For me, this is the best part of the book. An area of state park and wilderness, sparsely populated, the bad actors from California are out of their depth whereas the locals take care of each other and themselves, knowing help may not arrive in time, or at all. Amazing shoot-outs, some dead, some escape, some surrender, taking the reader to the final confrontation back in dear-old Minnesota.

At times I struggled to keep up with the baddie pairings, the names of the deputies and volunteers, and the locations across three states. But overall, a good read, a sizable body count, some bad language (appropriate), the standouts being the Sheriff of Barron County and his volunteers – men who had served in Iraq (which the bad dudes hadn’t), Lucas cringing at Letty driving his Porsche, and hats off to the barista’s well-aimed soy macchiato.
Profile Image for Skip.
3,226 reviews394 followers
June 5, 2016
#25 in the Prey series. Davenport's adoptive daughter Letty befriends some drifters, who tell her about a vicious band of sadistic killers preying on the helpless. Lucas dismissed this as "legend," but then one of two disappears, and Letty helps the other get to Minneapolis. When the other goes off on her own, Letty follows, forcing Lucas to follow. With much of the book based in the UP (Upper Peninsula), author Sandford does a very good job of portraying the hearty locals, including the police deputies. Lucas is happy to be working an active case and not politicking, although he makes a few mistakes in this one. This book was very violant/graphic.
Profile Image for Bill.
328 reviews
September 8, 2022
I appreciate the classic thriller structure of Sandford’s novels, and read them with a certain pleasure. They are like good junk food. But “The Gathering Prey” seemed to me to be one of the weaker books in the series. The books are becoming very predictable, with the ending placing one of Lucas’s family members in danger obvious from the beginning, which drains some of the suspense out of some of the set pieces in the middle. And the violence in this one is almost over the top - I don’t deny that things like this happen but there were just too much of too gruesome acts. And then there is the villain, Pilate, who seems at first to be one the those genius psychopaths who is always two steps ahead of everyone else, but as the book goes on, he turns into a rather ignorant and self-deluding character, very much at odds with the way he was portrayed at the beginning. There seemed to be no real understanding, and definitely no attempt to explain, the behavior of the members of Pilate’s cult. They all were pretty two dimensional. Also, the book suffered from the series problem of having the author feel he has to include all the characters from the series, so we end up with cameos of characters who don’t have anything to do to advance the plot or are simply there to be there. Overall I was disappointed by the book, and lately I find I enjoy Sandford’s Flowers books more than the Davenport one.
Profile Image for Judy.
1,573 reviews26 followers
October 7, 2017
Another episode with Lucas Davenport as he searches for a group of travelers who care very little for the lives of anyone who get in their way. What is interesting is that Lettie, Davenport's adopted daughter plays a significant part in introducing her Father to the group. She also does some sleuthing on her own. Language is crude as usual and events are gruesome as expected, but following Davenport as he pursues his prey is exciting.
Profile Image for Brenda.
725 reviews150 followers
May 29, 2015
This was a wonderful addition to the Lucas Davenport saga! In typical Sanford style, the bad guys got what was coming to them. Everyone on the team showed up in this book. I'm really looking forward to the next Davenport book, and I won't be surprised if Sanford's next book is a Virgil Flowers edition!! Grrrr...the wait!
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 6 books2,016 followers
September 23, 2018
I got to see a lot of Letty in this book, which I always enjoy. The crimes & the hunt were just tough. It's amazingly easy to be a nut on the loose in the US or even a group of them. The end was something else. I can't say more without spoilers, but it was really a wild ride getting there & ended with a couple of great scenes.

There were a few things that didn't ring quite true, but were easy enough to go along with since they were somewhat inevitable. Politics were well done & ugly. As usual, the media was well done.

Considering the end of the book, it should come as no surprise that I will start the next bookExtreme Prey ASAP!
Profile Image for Sarah Darwin.
7 reviews6 followers
May 14, 2015
Something missing

Something was going on. Not a big something. Something, though.
Lucas called up Shrake who said: “What’s up?
“Got a bunch of conjunctions gone missing.” Said Lucas.
“And?”
“Yeah, that’s one of them.”
Shrake took a moment. “People go missing all the time. Mostly turn up. Imagine it’s the same with words.”
Lucas thought about that. “Maybe.” He said. “Keep an eye out, all the same.”
“Where you figure they’re gonna be?” Said Shrake.
“There’s a rumour they’re connected,” said Lucas. “Kind of middle men. Most likely fell through the cracks between phrases.”
“So not on the golf course?”
“Not on the damned golf course.” Said Lucas.
Shrake said “Shame”. Hung up.
It was definitely something. Lucas knew that. Sentences were getting shorter. This time it wasn’t about the judges. Or the politicians. More like syntax. Or maybe it was the politicians. It was probably about money. Or something.

*

Across town John called up his agent. “Got an idea.” He said.
“Yeah?”
John took a pull on his coffee. Terrible coffee. Cop coffee. Helped get him in the mood.
“Yeah,” he said. “Prey thing. Davenport. People getting killed. Lot of them. Lucas has lost his mojo. Too much bureaucracy, bullshit cases, bullshit lawyers. Like that. Needs to get it back.”
“Got Prey in the title?” Said his agent.
“Yeah.” Said John.
“Go for it. How long’s it gonna take you?”
“A while. Gonna have more sentences than the last one.”
John could hear the gears grinding.
“Tell you what,” said the agent. “Make ‘em shorter. The sentences.”
John thought about that.
“Yeah. Could do that. Gonna mean losing some conjunctions. Maybe a lot.”
More grinding of the gears. John’s agent was like that.
“Fuck ‘em.” Said the agent. “Who needs conjunctions?”
John said: “Not me.” Hung up.
Could you write a whole novel without any conjunctions? John didn’t know. Thought maybe you could. Thought he’d give it a shot.
Which he did.

*

Gathering Prey is okay. I never liked the Prey books as much as Sandford’s other work, but they’re pretty reliable crime stories. Lucas is a little less smug, a little less perfect in this one, which may be a response to some feedback on recent Prey novels.

The writing is stripped down to a point where it’s mostly chassis and engine, no real bodywork at all. Imagine someone sat down and watched an episode of an undemanding TV cop show, maybe CSI Cyber (they don’t get less demanding than that) and they scribbled shorthand notes on what they saw unfolding on screen. Imagine that afterwards they typed up those notes — no frills, no padding, just tidied them up. That’s pretty much how this book reads: Letty did this. Lucas did that, moved on. One week later. Lucas arrives at a new town. Does this. Makes a call. Drives back home. Gets a call. Someone else is dead. Oh shit. Okay, I’ll be right on it. Which he is. Autopsy results. Okay. Makes a call. Same killers, no question. Gets a call. Be right there. Shoots someone. Gets a call. Moves on … repeat through several iterations until you reach the end of the road.

I’m wondering if Sandford isn’t taking this stripped-down prose style too far now. Maybe he’s writing for people who prefer watching TV. More of them. Bigger market.

Gathering Prey is structured much like Mad River, one of Sandford’s best books, but with a crucial difference. The three crazy kids at the centre of Mad River are so well drawn that you can’t help rooting for them. The killing crew in Gathering Prey have so little substance that it’s hard to care about them one way or the other. Their existence is mostly hearsay.

The one thing that really makes this book worth reading is the ending. It seems to reflect something that’s going on in crime fiction right now, which in turn is maybe reflecting something that’s going on in the world. Read it for that, at least.

I enjoyed Gathering Prey the way you might enjoy a few shots of tequila after a tiring day at work. Fine wine it isn’t. Nothing lingers. I read it, it diverted me, then it was gone. Bam.

The End

Profile Image for Nate.
481 reviews20 followers
January 26, 2021
Man, what a fuckin’ drag it is to give any of these books anything less than four stars. It feels like admitting to one of your kids that you like their sibling more than them. It sucks too, because on paper the summary of this one on the back really made it sound promising! Unfortunately, 2020 was a bit of a drag and a downer for most people, just to fill in the recently-awakened-from-comas.

So this one’s about Letty meeting a couple of drifters and striking up a friendship with them. Unfortunately said drifters are involved with this creepy cult-type deal led by some guy whose name I can’t even remember at this point, suffice it to say if this fucker had a mustache he would have been constantly twirling it. Totally uninteresting and without any kind of sensical motive.

Not helping matters is the fact that this book had WAY too much Letty. Look, I like her and think she’s very cool but the way her and Lucas teamed up in this one just made it feel kind of corny...I just can’t get over the idea of a teenage kid being a convincing stone cold ultra hardass enough to hang with Lucas, regardless of their background. It just feels out of character and tone for this series, like Sandford was pandering to a younger demographic or something. I can see it now, a 40-entry Letty Davenport YA series...gods forbid.

The other issue here was the like 100-page shootout near the end of the book. Look, far be it from me to not enjoy a big set piece with lots of lead flying and bad guys kicking the bucket, but the winning formula in this series has always been ratcheting up the tension bit by bit over the course, then popping off with a visceral, lean climax—not a shootout scene that lasted longer than the fucking siege at Waco. It just felt like Sandford was maybe a bit off his game on this one, but at the very least it was better than Stolen Prey.
Profile Image for Jean.
705 reviews20 followers
May 7, 2015
Lucas Davenport has had a long and storied career as a Minneapolis cop and a Minnesota BCA detective. In Gathering Prey, John Sandford’s 25th of the “Prey” series, Davenport hops, skips, and jumps from Minnesota to Wisconsin to Michigan and back to the Twin Cities in pursuit of a band of crazed killers.

Letty, Davenport’s stepdaughter, befriends a young “traveler” called Skye. Travelers are peaceful hobo types who never stay in one place very long, and when her male companion goes missing, a freaked out Skye calls Letty for help. After some initial skepticism, Lucas becomes involved when the man is found horrendously murdered; he is convinced that there may be a trail of dead bodies strewn across the country.

The group responsible for his death is compared to the Charles Manson family, only worse. Originally from California, they are led by a crazed drug dealer that Skye calls “the devil.” She knows him as “Pilot,” but he goes by “Pilate.” Eventually, Skye, Pilate’s group, Letty, and Lucas all separately hopscotch their way to a Juggalo Gathering, a festival for fans of the Insane Clown Posse. Attendees adorn their faces in bizarre clown paint, dress in costumes, buy and sell drugs, and listen to underground rap and other subculture music. It’s the perfect cover for Pilate and his Disciples to peddle their dope, torture and kill when the opportunity presents itself, and evade the cops. Lucas enlists the help of local law enforcement and gets himself deputized, and then the real fun begins.

There is much to like about Gathering Prey. As usual, Davenport himself is on top of his game. He is a smart, experienced cop, and he doesn’t take any guff from anyone, especially his superiors. When his boss wants him home in Minnesota instead of off in Wisconsin or Michigan, Lucas pretty much tells him what he can do with his case. The rapport between Lucas and Letty is very entertaining – humorous at times, and a refreshing change of pace. Virgil Flowers also makes a cameo appearance in this book. When Lucas meets up with the local cops, some good dialogue takes place among them too, especially when one guy’s intelligence is compared to that of the police dog! The secondary plot, one that involves a case that Lucas’s long-time buddies Del and Sloan are trying to wrap up, intrigued me more than the main story, frankly, and I would have preferred more details about that case.

Since I grew up near Duluth and spent nearly thirty years in the Twin Cities area as an adult, it was fun for me to read about cat-and-mouse chase “Up North” and across three states. After the shooting began, however, things slowed down significantly for me. There was too much play-by-play for my taste. Yes, it added to the realism, I suppose, but it felt like it was being written for a movie script. What this story lacked, in my opinion, was mystery. Davenport already knows who the bad guy is – it’s just a matter of catching him. If you are a reader who enjoys being in on the strategizing as well as getting a blow-by-blow description of the action (without an overabundance of gore) then you will love Gathering Prey. If you enjoy a novel with mystery, well, this one ends with one: Now that he has closed the book on another major chapter, what changes will Lucas Davenport make in his life?

If I could, I would give this 3-1/2 stars



Profile Image for Monnie.
1,368 reviews755 followers
May 14, 2015
Hard to believe this is the 25th book in the "Prey" series - most of which I've read - and while I won't call it the best of the bunch, it's well worth reading as usual. Also as usual, author Sandford manages to get in a guest appearance by one of his other cool characters, Virgil Flowers.

The story begins when Letty, the daughter adopted by Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent Lucas Davenport and his surgeon wife, Weather, is home from college. Letty gets a call from a panhandling woman she befriended in San Francisco, who's begging for help in the belief that someone is killing off her traveling friends. Letty insists on helping the girl, and while Lucas suspects the whole thing is just a panhandling ploy, he agrees to accompany Letty.

As it turns out, Letty's newfound friend is on to some nastiness that could rival the Charles Manson gang (led by a guy who goes by the handle of Pilate). Following the gang members, who leave behind a string of grisly murders, takes Lucas out of his usual Gopher State to others including Wisconsin and Michigan's remote Upper Peninsula. In the process, he asks for and gets help from his buddy Virgil (a.k.a. "that f***ing Flowers") - always a treat for me because, well, I like him better than Lucas. In the process of catching the bad guys and gals, Lucas manages to get under the skin of his higher-ups (in part because he pulled Virgil off another job without permission). Lucas also is starting to see unwelcome changes in how he and his work are valued, hinting at changes that may come in future books.

For the most part, the thrill of the chase remained exciting throughout; but I'll also say that Letty - more than a bit of an errant child - isn't my favorite character by a long shot. I certainly don't want anything bad to happen to her, but if it did, I honestly wouldn't miss her much. I do like Lucas's wife Weather, but she gets exceptionally short shrift here. I also feared in the beginning that Sandford may be slipping toward the banality of Stuart Woods's Stone Barrington series when it comes to dialogue that seems to be more blather than substance. Then again, there are plenty of hopeful (and amusing) indications that this won't happen, such as this conversation with a Wisconson cop:

Lucas: "You divorced yet?"

Cop: "Let's not go there...I think she's gonna get the season tickets for the Packers."

Oh yeah - Sandford's still got it.
Profile Image for Cameron Wiggins.
162 reviews20 followers
April 28, 2016
One of my favorite authors is undoubtably John Sanford and Gathering Prey is a classic example to support this favoritism. I have read 24 of the 25 “Prey” novels, and this is definitely my favorite series, too. John Sanford, a former Minneapolis newspaper reporter, is an excellent police procedural/thriller writer IMHO, and Sanford’s creation, policeman, and then Minnesota BCA Agent Lucas Davenport is definitely one for the ages.
Lucas’ adopted daughter is now away at Stanford University. Summer break is nearing and Letty is soon returning home to Minneapolis. The Davenport family, in no shortage of money, due to gaming simulation inventions and investments and also for computer simulations for police procedure training. He sold out at the right time (imagine that - why can’t I ever do that?) and he is a self-made millionaire who really enjoys being a cop. Letty befriends two travelers, people who more or less just roam the country bumming around indulging in cheap experiences, shortly before leaving California. Pleasantries are exchanged and Letty feeds the young man and woman and gives them some money. Also, as they seem so sincere, she gives them her telephone number before departing and says if anything ever comes up …
As with all groups of people, there are good travelers and bad travelers. Some of them are very undesirable and deeply disturbed. They kind of travel together but stay a part. The travelers are working their way across the country to Michigan hitting Sturgis and various festivals. Letty’s friend calls and says that her male friend has come up missing in South Dakota.
Gathering Prey gathers up a full head of steam from this point when the leader of the Travelers, Pilate, goes off on a Charles Mansion multi-state rage. I am never one to give to much away, and boy would the reader feel cheated by an unwanted spoiler. But, this book rocks from here on out. It is a very good read.
I think that anyone who enjoys police procedurals and thrillers will love this book and I would have no problems recommending it to anyone. Bear in mind, when someone writes 25 books, not all of them are going to be this stellar. Also, even though they were good books, casting Mark Harmon for Lucas Davenport was like casting Woody Allen as the Boston Strangler. It just does’t work. I give John Sanford’s Gathering Prey a two thumbs up 5-star rating.

Cam
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,677 reviews920 followers
November 5, 2019
So this is the 25th Lucas Davenport book I have read and it seems that we will see Davenport pursue something different. He once again is dealing with depression, but being asked to help find a young man that his daughter Letty met is enough to push that back for the time being. When it appears that Letty's friends may have come across a brutal group murdering Travelers, Lucas and others do what's necessary to take down the group.

"Gathering Prey" follows Lucas as he is dealing with depression setting in due to a murder case that looks to be shaping up to have the defendant get away with murder. Lucas is also starting to get annoyed with the bureaucracy at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. While this is going on, Letty, his daughter, runs across two Travelers (Skye and Henry) near her school. Letty ends up being herself (don't even ask) and then passes on her number to Skye to look her up if she ends up near Minnesota. When Henry goes missing, Skye hears rumors that he may have been killed by a group headed up by a man named Pilate. She reaches out to Letty who in turns helps Lucas investigate.

Lucas seems more mellow in this one. Though Letty being involved with the case doesn't thrill him or his wife Weather, he's become resigned to the fact that she's going to be in law enforcement someday. One good thing I thought about this book is that Letty finally realizes that she's not the biggest/baddest thing out there. Lucas wants her to learn to be cautious instead of impetuous all of the time. Lucas is also getting tired of the BCA and though he calls up his usual suspects (Flowers, Del, etc.) his heart doesn't seem to be much in things.

Letty gets more developed in this one. I maybe laughed at someone telling Letty she's not a sociopath. I feel like Sandford was responding to criticism this character was getting from a lot of readers. She definitely shows emotion in this one.

I wish we had gotten more dialogue with Weather. She just seems to be there to off-screen lecture Letty and Lucas and or tell them to be careful, and talk to Lucas about Letty's future. Remember when Weather was a fully developed character that actually did things and interacted with people?

We also get Pilate's POV and I wish that had been cut down some.

The writing at times is pretty grim when describing that has been done to victims by this group led by Pilate. The flow was up and down. I started to get bored reading about Lucas driving all over rural America and then having to deal with locals and shootouts every five seconds. It started to get to be a bit much after a while.

The setting of the book dealing with Travelers and how they get around and interact with others was interesting. Sandford even gets into the Jugaloos and I still don't get that whole thing. At all.

The ending leaves Lucas on a new path.
Profile Image for Mark.
2,146 reviews19 followers
August 4, 2018
Been on a John Sanford, Lucas Davenport roll this past month...In this one, Davenport is drawn into running down a Manson-like group that on a killing spree across the northern tier by his daughter Letty...the usual good stuff!
Profile Image for Peter.
1,124 reviews36 followers
May 19, 2015
Gathering Prey is the twenty-fifth in John Sandford's “Prey” series of down south crime thrillers starring either Lucas Davenport, Virgil Flower, or both. Lucas is Virgil’s boss at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). The series has been very popular, and for good reason: the books are well written, nicely platted and paced, and often very funny. Well, usually.

Skye and Henry are traveling street buskers who know a bad dude with a hot car and a blonde—his name is Pilate but he calls himself The Pilot and he’s a real stay-away-from kind of guy; her name is Kristen and she has filed her teeth to sharp points. While at work on a San Francisco street, Henry and Skye notice a young woman intently watching them. After the act she introduces herself as Letty and takes them to McDonalds to pump them for information. Letty’s young life was a misery—her father was murdered and her mother is a drunk—but she was adopted by a cop and his wife, and they brought her up right—so right that she’s now a student at Stanford! It turns out, of course, that Letty’s father is our Lucas Davenport!

Letty gets a call from Skye: Pilate has kidnapped Henry and, she hears, cut out his heart and severely shortened his willy; we don’t know the order of these events. Letty asks Dad to check it out; Lucas does just that and it turns out to be true. Then one of Pilate’s cronies kidnaps Skye with plans to kill her for fun. The game’s afoot as Letty and Lucas track down Skye’s kidnapper and rescue Skye. But Skye is soon off again on her own to a Juggalo Gathering where she is likely to be reacquainted with Pilate, who realizes that now she knows too much about his group. Indeed, that’s where Pilot is heading, spouting memorable lines like, “If I could get my hands on that bitch Skye, I’d skin her alive. Who’s got the Cheetohs? Pass them up here.” Letty and Lucas have their work cut out for them as they try to corral the wandering Skye, who just seems to be dying to get dead; she does.

Eventually the Pilate and his disciples are in a major confrontation with Lucs and the cops in an Upper Peninsula, Michigan town. Pilate throws his disciples under the bus and sneaks out with his sharp-toothed lady. And so on.

Through this book we learn things about the modern life of young nomads. For example, I learned about Juggalo Gatherings that travel around the country venerating the musical duo Insane Clown Posse. They do things like spray Faygo (an obscure soft drink) on each other, paint their faces like clowns, and listen to rap music. This is the kind of in-depth social analysis that one hopes for to balance the death and terror of a crime thriller.

Sadly, this is not among John Sandford's best. It seems way too forced, and it leaves lots of unanswered questions: why was Letty interested in Sky and Henry in the first place? How does Lucas get to take on a personal case like this while employed by the Minnesota BCA? How did Lucas get a Porsche and a Mercedes on a cop’s salary? (A reader tells me Lucas sold a software company and his wife is a surgeon) Why did Sanders write this book?

3 stars.
Profile Image for Truman32.
335 reviews95 followers
May 16, 2015

The jacket description to Gathering Prey, John Sandford’s 25th (Twenty-fifth!!!) Prey novel I must admit made me a little nervous. “They call them Travelers. They move from city to city, panhandling, committing no crimes—they just like to stay on the move. And now somebody is killing them.” Oh, great, I thought, Sandford wants to educate us on the homeless. Happily, while Sandford probably could teach us about the plight of the homeless, he chooses not to go down this route in his novel, instead delivering a straightforward detective story.

The story deals with a band of itinerant miscreants from California who travel the country in Winnebago motorhomes, dealing drugs, taking drugs, and performing group torture-murders. This charming cluster of smiling faces include a woman who has filed her teeth to razor-edged points, and their leader--a violent maniac who goes by the name Pilate. They sound ominous and sinister, right?

Well, you’d be mistaken.

The prodigious degree of ignorance in this group is only eclipsed by their unmitigated incompetence. A team consisting of the Three Stooges and the Kardashian sisters would handily beat Pilate and his thick cohorts in a game of Jeopardy (if Alex Trebek were somehow stopped from escaping). Still, they have managed a multi-state spree of slaughter and homicide (not incidentally including a friend of Lucas Davenport’s adopted daughter, Letty). So Lucas Davenport is brought in and the chase is on across the Midwest and into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Pilate and his team of killers are disappointing. While they might actually be indicative of the level of criminals operating in the real world, they make a decidedly dreadful adversary. Due to their immense magnitude of blockheadedness, much of the action in the story takes place at Insane Clown Posse Juggalo gatherings. If you are the type of reader who feels that the modern detective story is missing spraying Faygo, clown make-up, and making “whoop whoop” noises; this book once and for all definitively proves you are wrong.

But not all is lost. This is actually a pretty good book. Sandford’s writing is great as usual. Elmore Leonard is known for his excellent dialogue, but John Sandford is right there at this level too. The sense of realism, humor, and subtext Sandford conveys in the words spilling from his character’s mouths is fantastic and would be a great primer for any beginning writing college course. The prose is exciting, the action moves, and the later sections where Lucas teams up with several small rural Sheriff departments is terrific. Seeing the inner workings of these small departments consisting mainly of dedicated volunteers is interesting and heartening. Honestly, I hope they operate like this in real life.

Yes, the mediocre villains keep this novel from ascending to a place among those top entries in this series, but we are still given a solid and entertaining tale. I would recommend it –a great summer read.
April 24, 2015
Reviewed for Read Your Writes Book Reviews
by Gemini

Gathering Prey was a very involved and in-depth look at some disturbing criminals that traveled the country like nomads leaving dead bodies along the way. The Travelers have a leader named Pilate that could easily be compared to Charles Manson or any other cult leader. They are as evil as evil gets and Pilate had to be the devil himself. As with all stories like this, someone has to play the hero. In this case, that person is Lucas Davenport. He is a law enforcement officer in Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension or BCA. They all come together thanks to a chance encounter between Lucas’ daughter, Letty and an innocent “traveler” called Skye.

There is nothing that I like more than a book that you don’t want to put down because the action gets more and more intense as you turn the pages. Gathering Prey starts off kind of slow but it escalates at an enjoyable pace while allowing time for you to truly digest everything that happens. Although this is part of a rather lengthy series, I was able to follow along and get a good feel for the primary characters. Consequently, I will likely go back and read the preceding books just so that I can get to know the Davenports better and see what led Lucas to some of the decisions that he makes during this book. He is a very brave and relentless officer of the law. Everyone seems to automatically make him the leader even when he doesn’t want to be. That says a lot about his character and makes it easy to become a fan.

Be advised that there is a fair amount of brutality that you will endure but it just makes you desperate to see justice served. At one point, you will feel like you are reading a Western instead of a modern day thriller but that’s part of the allure. It was nothing like I expected but that’s a good thing.

**Copy received courtesy of G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Group in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.**
Profile Image for Kathy.
2,027 reviews30 followers
June 30, 2022
4.5 rounded up
Interesting story and learned a lot. Loved Lucas and Letty, the interaction is well written and realistic. They were the reason I rounded up.
Profile Image for Deb.
307 reviews68 followers
July 23, 2021
Awesome Lucas Davenport book! This was an exciting, action packed book! Recommend to all Prey readers. I heard it as an audio book.
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