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

SandfordJ-LD27-GoldenPreyUSLucas Davenport’s first mission as a US Marshal

The man was smart and he didn’t mind killing people. Welcome to the big leagues, Davenport.

Thanks to some very influential people whose lives he saved, Lucas is no longer working for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, but for the U.S. Marshals Service, and with unusual scope. He gets to pick his own cases, whatever they are, wherever they lead him.

And where they’ve led him this time is into real trouble. A Biloxi, Mississippi, drug-cartel counting house gets robbed, and suitcases full of cash disappear, leaving behind five bodies, including that of a six-year-old girl. Davenport takes the case, which quickly spirals out of control, as cartel assassins, including a torturer known as the “Queen of home-improvement tools” compete with Davenport to find the Dixie Hicks shooters who knocked over the counting house. Things get ugly real fast, and neither the cartel killers nor the holdup men give a damn about whose lives Davenport might have saved; to them, he’s just another large target.

In this, Lucas Davenport’s 27th novel, our hero shows no evidence of slowing down. Sandford also shows no evidence of running out of ideas. Davenport is now a US Marshal (albeit, one with a special classification), entering a larger jurisdiction populated by the worst of the worst. Tightly-plotted, excellently paced, Golden Prey is another superb addition to the series. Continue reading

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Upcoming: EXTREME PREY by John Sandford (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

SandfordJ-P26-ExtremePreyUS

The 26th Lucas Davenport novel! After finishing Gathering Prey, I was a little concerned that the series might have ended. Thankfully, a couple of a days ago, John Sandford announced Extreme Prey! To be published in April 2016 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, it sounds pretty interesting:

After the events in Gathering Prey, Lucas Davenport finds himself in a very unusual situation — no longer employed by the Minnesota BCA. His friend the governor is just cranking up a presidential campaign, though, and he invites Lucas to come along as part of his campaign staff. “Should be fun!” he says, and it kind of is — until they find they have a shadow: an armed man intent on killing the governor… and anyone who gets in the way.

Can’t wait to read this. If you haven’t tried the Prey series, yet, I highly recommend it. John Sandford is easily one of my all-time favourite authors.

Review: FIELD OF PREY by John Sandford (Putnam/Simon & Schuster)

Sandford-24-FieldOfPreyUS24 books in, series still firing on all cylinders…

The night after the fourth of July, Layton Carlson Jr., of Red Wing, Minnesota, finally got lucky. And unlucky.

He’d picked the perfect spot to lose his virginity to his girlfriend, an abandoned farmyard in the middle of cornfields: nice, private, and quiet. The only problem was… something smelled bad – like, really bad. He mentioned it to a county deputy he knew, and when the cop took a look, he found a body stuffed down a cistern. And then another, and another.

By the time Lucas Davenport was called in, the police were up to fifteen bodies and counting. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, when Lucas began to investigate, he made some disturbing discoveries of his own. The victims had been killed over a great many years, one every summer, regular as clockwork. How could this have happened without anybody noticing?

Because one thing was for sure: the killer had to live close by. He was probably even someone they saw every day…

It really is quite impressive, the fact that this is the 24th book featuring Lucas Davenport (also known as the Prey Series) and it is so very good. Add to that the fact that Sandford is also writing the Virgil Flowers spin-off series as well (each gets a new book each year, for the past seven or eight years), and you start to realise just how talented and disciplined Sandford is as an author. I have read all of the Prey novels, and each one has been at the very least great and gripping. Field of Prey is no exception, but this time you can also add harrowing and intense. A great addition to the series. Continue reading

“Silken Prey” by John Sandford (Putnam/Simon & Schuster)

Sandford-23-SilkenPreyUKMurder, scandal, political espionage, and an extremely dangerous woman. Lucas Davenport’s going to be lucky to get out of this one alive.

Very early one morning, a Minnesota political fixer answers his doorbell. The next thing he knows, he’s waking up on the floor of a moving car, lying on a plastic sheet, his body wet with blood. When the car stops, a voice says, “Hey, I think he’s breathing,” and another voice says, “Yeah? Give me the bat.” And that’s the last thing he knows.   

Davenport is investigating another case when the trail leads to the man’s disappearance, then — very troublingly — to the Minneapolis police department, then — most troublingly of all — to a woman who could give Machiavelli lessons. She has very definite ideas about the way the world should work, and the money, ruthlessness, and sheer will to make it happen.

No matter who gets in the way.

I’m a huge fan of Sandford’s Minnesota-based crime thrillers. In fact, I would say that he’s probably my favourite thriller author bar none. Silken Prey is the 23rd novel in his Lucas Davenport series, and the series just keeps firing on all cylinders. This time, Sandford turns his attention to politics, which always offers new and ‘exciting’ ways in which an investigation can become muddled, dangerous, or even impossible. Lucas is tasked by the Democratic governor to investigate what appears to be a political framing of the Republican Senator. Making things really tricky, of course, is the fact that they are all in the middle of the election. Party politics, dirty tricks, extreme suspicion, and a deadly killer (or two) operating on the sidelines? This is Davenport. He can handle it. Maybe…

The novel displays Sandford’s easy, inviting prose style, the wry humour that has always made this series stand out, and also his engaging and endearing characters. The friendship between Lucas and his various colleagues feels very natural – after 23 novels, how could it not be? The antagonists of the piece are well-drawn, avoiding cartoon-ish cliché or exaggeration. It was nice to see Kidd and Lauren make an appearance, as it feels like a really long time since we saw them last (the two of them had their own, four-book series earlier in Sandford’s career – and I would highly recommend those, too). The novel is uncluttered, unpretentious, and very focused. It’s not a blockbuster thriller, with a focus on character way more than guns or action-scenes.

The ending was just a smidge muddled, as if the author felt he needed to wrap things up relatively quickly, but I think he nevertheless manages to pull it off, and it wasn’t dissatisfying. It didn’t feel rushed, actually. The conclusion also leaves things open for further exploration in a later book (which I really hope Sandford does). I get the feeling that Sandford has some big plans for Davenport’s future, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. This far into a series, it is a testament to the author’s exceptional skill as a writer that he manages to make each new novel as gripping and addictive as the last. Long may this continue!

A short-and-sweet review, this. I don’t want to delve too much into the story, as there are a couple of switches and changes at certain points of the narrative. The synopsis, above, should suffice to give you as much as you need. All I can say is that John Sandford is a superb writer, and Silken Prey is yet another strong addition to his beloved series. I will really have to catch up with the companion series, which follows Davenport’s protégé (of sorts), Virgil Flowers. I’ve read the first in that series, but have six more to catch up on. I may plan to do that over Christmas and New Year.

Very highly recommended for all fans of crime thrillers.