Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Prey, Prey, Prey

It was sort of a John Sandford reading orgy. Consecutively, I read 3 of Sandford's Prey novels; Silent Prey (1992), Mind Prey (1995) and Mortal Prey (2002). These mysteries, published over a 10 year period, are part of what I believe is now an 18 book series featuring protagonist Lucas Davenport. Why these three? Other than my liking Sandford's work, they all were part of a large selection of his books available recently at the local Costco. (Now you know how I select what I read most of the time.)

Silent Prey begins with the escape, during his trial, of a vicious, drug-addled, insane pathologist murderer, Michael Bekker, who had previously been captured (and maimed) by Davenport in Eyes of Prey. Bekker's forte is slowly torturing and killing his victims after removing their eyelids, in the name of science, so he can see into their souls and study them as they die. After his escape, victims reflecting Bekker's MO start showing up in New York. Then Davenport, who has left the Minneapolis Police Department, is hired by the New York City Police Department to find Bekker and, surreptitiously, root out some "rogue killers" within the NYPD. Davenport does manage to pull off both feats with his usual panache and Sandford's storytelling dexterity.

In Mind Prey Lucas is back in Minneapolis, now as Deputy Chief of Police, the focus is less that of solving a murder than it is trying to rescue kidnap victims, a noted psychiatrist and her 2 daughters, before they are murdered. I just knew I would enjoy reading the entire mystery when it started with this opening sentence: "The storm blew up late in the afternoon, tight, gray clouds hustling over the lake like dirty, balled-up sweat socks spilling from a basket." What a graphically wonderful description! The story did not disappoint and the ending result held a very pleasant surprise that I won't share here.

Mortal Prey offers a different twist. Davenport is in St. Louis, on loan to the FBI, as they try to capture hit-woman Clara Rinker, who Lucas has faced before. She is out to gain revenge on some local mob figures who had failed in trying to get her killed. Lucas, while respecting what the FBI "does well," makes contact with some retired St. Louis detectives. They succeed in uncovering a lot of important intelligence using their street smarts, something which the FBI, the story suggests, "does not do well." There are plenty of twists, turns and close calls. In some ways, Rinker is one of the more likable foes Davenport has faced. While the mystery was a spellbinder most of the way, the ultimate ending was a bit anti-climatic.

According to my count, I have now read at least 10 of the 18 Prey mysteries. After 3 in a row I plan to take a bit of a hiatus from Sandford and Lucas Davenport. But I know that I will return and eventually read the full series.


Charles Gramlich said...

I've actually not read any of these but I have a couple of them lying around the house. The problem with me for getting more is that the titles are all so similar I can't remember which ones I have and which ones I don't. Now that you've recommended 'em maybe I'll try one pretty soon.

Sylvia K said...

I'm a big Sanford fan as well. I also like Michael Connelly. Spent the weekend at Whidbey Island with one of his books (along with family and friends). They're both great reads.