Kemper's Reviews > Buried Prey

Buried Prey by John Sandford
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Dec 03, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, 5-0, crime-mystery, thriller, lucas-davenport, 2016-reread
Read from October 01 to 05, 2016

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. This is 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 times in the story where some break in the case has happened or some other critical 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 and tough as well as 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 kinds of 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 we met him in that 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 Lucas 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. This also functions as a soft reboot of the Davenport timeline that allows Sandford reduce the character's age a bit.

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.

* Update 10/5/16 - I didn't catch this the first time I read this, but I've been going through a few of the Sandford books again lately, and there's an absolute whopper of a continuity error here. (view spoiler)

Next: Lucas gets mugged and investigates the massacre of a family in Stolen Prey.
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Comments (showing 1-13)




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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.


message 12: by Crys (new) - added it

Crys Wood 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 10: 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 9: by Kemper (last edited Oct 05, 2016 06:37AM) (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 yhis 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 8: 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.


message 5: by Jade (new) - added it

Jade Read this one just after reading Storm Prey (#20) and there's something goofy. In Storm, Marcy and Weather are one - upping each other bout their toddlers. Marcy is marked to a big wig at. General Mills and James is her preschool aged son. But then in Buried Prey (#21) Marcy makes comments hunting that she would like to have a kid and about dating some guy. There was no mention at all of her husband and soon from the last book. First continuity error I've spotted (unless I'm missing something)


message 4: by Tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim Bad Blood was great, so I'm really looking forward to this one. Great review again, of course.


message 3: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Vacca You are ripping through these re-reads.


Kemper Anthony wrote: "You are ripping through these re-reads."

I'm crazy busy at work right now so I went to the library and loaded up on Sandford audio books on CD. You can get through about a whole book in one 10 to 12 hour stretch while going spreadsheet blind.


message 1: by Steven (new)

Steven I need to try this author/series sometime :D


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