Quick Review: DARK ANGEL by John Sandford (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

SandfordJ-Letty2-DarkAngelUSHCLetty Davenport returns, investigating a hacker collective

Letty Davenport, the tough-as-nails adopted daughter of Lucas Davenport, takes on an undercover assignment that brings her across the country and into the crosshairs of a dangerous group of hackers.

Letty Davenport’s days working a desk job at are behind her. Her previous actions at a gunfight in Texas — and her incredible skills with firearms — draw the attention of several branches of the US government, and make her a perfect fit for even more dangerous work. The Department of Homeland Security and the NSA have tasked her with infiltrating a hacker group, known only as Ordinary People, that is intent on wreaking havoc. Letty and her reluctant partner from the NSA pose as free-spirited programmers for hire and embark on a cross country road trip to the group’s California headquarters.

While the two work to make inroads with Ordinary People and uncover their plans, they begin to suspect that the hackers are not their only enemy. Someone within their own circle may have betrayed them, and has ulterior motives that place their mission—and their lives — in grave danger.

An excellent second novel starring Letty Davenport. Sandford continues to show his gift for characterization and fast-moving plots in Dark Angel. The novel shows this spin-off series definitely has legs and can stand on its own, as the character continue to develop and navigate the new role and world she’s been thrust into. I enjoyed this a lot.

In her capacity as an agent of the Department of Homeland Security (and kind of as an investigative aide to a powerful senator — it’s appropriately murky), Dark Angel sees Letty dispatched to California to investigate the operations of a rogue hacker collective. In the shadow of a more assertive and aggressive Russia, the hackers appear to have strayed into an explosive international relations issue (the invasion of Ukraine). This has put them in the crosshairs of Russia’s elite, as well as dropped them onto the radar of the US government. As a relatively young agent of the state, Letty is considered perfect for an undercover assignment: infiltrate the group, find out what they know, what they’ve done, and try to make sure none of it blows back on the US government. So simply stated, yet not so easily accomplished.

SandfordJ-LettyD1-DarkAngelUKPBOne the things I’ve really enjoyed about the Letty Davenport series is the way Sandford has created a highly-capable character who does not know everything. This might seem like a strange thing to note, but so often authors create rookie characters who are inexplicably capable and knowledgeable. Letty however, despite a childhood and upbringing that has brought her into close contact with law enforcement and the criminal underworld multiple times, continues to learn from those around her. Whether she’s picking up tips and lessons from John, her partner in The Investigator; or from reluctant hacker partner in Dark Angel, she is improving on-the-job, but not afraid to be fallible or have a gap in her knowledge. This makes her far more realistic, and also for a more interesting read — there are some pretty interesting things she learns over the course of this novel.

There’s plenty of action, as one might expect from a Sandford novel; similarly, there are plenty of references to contemporary political and social issues. It makes this an up-to-the-minute read, and one that will grab readers early, and pull them on through to the climax. I enjoyed the characters’ exploration of the world of modern hacking (a subject the author hasn’t spent much time in since his Kidd novels — which I also highly recommend.) For me, Sandford is one of the most reliable authors in the thriller/crime genre, and I always know I will enjoy each new book of his. (Michael Connelly and Mike Lawson are the only other two who I have, thus far, thoroughly enjoyed every book by.)

I really enjoyed this, and can’t wait for Letty’s (and Lucas’s) next outings. Definitely recommended.


John Sandford’s Dark Angel is due to be published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in North America (April 11th) and Canelo Action in the UK (April 13th).

Also on CR: Reviews of The Investigator, Phantom Prey, Wicked Prey, Storm Prey, Buried Prey, Stolen Prey, Silken Prey, Field of Prey, Golden Prey, Neon Prey, Masked Prey, Righteous Prey, and Dark of the Moon

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

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