Quick Review: RIGHTEOUS PREY by John Sandford (G. P. Putnam’s Sons)

SandfordJ-P32-RighteousPreyUSHCLucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers return, and take on a powerful vigilante group

“We’re going to murder people who need to be murdered.” So begins a press release from a mysterious group known only as “The Five,” shortly after a vicious predator is murdered in San Francisco. The Five is believed to be made up of vigilante killers who are very bored… and very rich. They target the worst of society — rapists, murderers, and thieves — and then use their unlimited resources to offset the damage done by those who they’ve killed, donating untraceable Bitcoin to charities and victims via the dark net. The Five soon become the most popular figures on social media, a modern-day Batman…though their motives may not be entirely pure.

After a woman is murdered in the Twin Cities, Virgil Flowers and Lucas Davenport are sent in to investigate. And they soon have their hands full — the killings are smart and carefully choreographed, and with no apparent direct connection to the victims, The Five are virtually untraceable. But if anyone can destroy this group, it will be the dynamic team of Davenport and Flowers.

Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, two of the best investigators in Minnesota (and sometimes Wisconsin) team up again to bring a dangerous, exceedingly well-funded group of self-styled vigilantes to justice. As with all Sandford novels, I was quickly swept up by the story, and was gripped from start to finish. One of the most reliable crime authors writing today.

In Righteous Prey, Sandford does a very good job of showing how even the best intentions/politics can be twisted by psychopathy into something deadly. The group of vigilantes at the heart of the novel are a bunch of bored, wealthy self-identifying “lefties” — sort of. It’s “left” in a very American way, in that they are against much of what the Republicans are for (guns, in particular). However, each of them is clearly messed up in their own ways, and decide to take it upon themselves to use that which they oppose to make their political points. It’s an intriguing premise, and one that Sandford pulls off rather well. It also takes us into the world of bitcoin millionaires — Sandford’s always been good at tapping into something contemporary that’s making waves/news, and injecting it into his novels in some way, while also passing comment on it.

It’s not entirely clear what one can say or write about Righteous Prey that I haven’t written and said about many of Sandford’s previous novels: his prose and plotting is excellent, tightly composed and engaging throughout. His characters are well-drawn and realistic. The story has some good twists, and the antagonists are an appropriately objectionable bunch. In many ways, Righteous Prey is the typical Sandford novel — gripping, well-written, and near-impossible to put down once you’ve started. This is all to be cheered, of course, but damn if it doesn’t make it tricky coming up with something original to write in a review…

The novel has a very good conclusion, but one that leaves the door open for a directly-connected follow-up (something Sandford has done a few times over the course of this series, but is not the norm). I’m certainly looking forward to that book, whenever it happens to surface.

I started reading John Sandford’s novels about 20 years ago. It is really quite something that he continues to write crime thrillers that not only grab one’s attention, but also never feel like they’re treading water or repeating themselves. The police work is always interesting to read, the “action” scenes are well-composed and not excessive (even if there is a rather intense, Heat-like shoot-out in this book). His characters continue to grow and be affected by what they experience with each new novel, which is one of the best things about the series. I can’t wait to read the next one in the series.

This series remains very highly recommended to all fans of crime fiction.

*

John Sandford’s Righteous Prey is due to be published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in North America on October 4th, 2022. (At the time of writing, I couldn’t find any information about a UK edition, but previous novels by the author are published by Simon & Schuster, so I expect the same will be true for this one.)

Also on CR: Reviews of Phantom Prey, Wicked Prey, Storm Prey, Buried Prey, Stolen Prey, Silken Prey, Field of Prey, Golden Prey, Neon Prey, Masked Prey

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received from publisher

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