Friday, July 16, 2010

Storm Prey and Slim to None

7/11/10 Hospitals are dangerous places in a pair of recent crime novels. Each has numerous plot twists, strong characterization and a diligent hero trying to track down a devious killer.

Storm Prey by best-selling author John Sandford (Putnam, $27.95) is the 20th in his incredibly popular series starring Lucas Davenport, head of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Davenport's wife, Weather, is on her way to a complicated surgical process when she pulls into the hospital parking lot, narrowly missing a van leaving the area.

For a split second, she sees the driver - who is part of a gang that had just held up the hospital's pharmacy, stealing a half-million dollars worth of drugs. An insider, a drug-addicted doctor, is worried because Weather took the same elevator up and may be able to identify him.

One of the pharmacists dies. Davenport and his crew become involved, working with minimal clues. Meanwhile, the gang members turn on themselves.

The complicated plot features a large but well-developed cast of characters, including scheming villains, dumb robbers, frustrated addicts and a cold-blooded killer.

Sandford, one of America's best crime writers, is in fine form with a compelling page-turner that's likely to keep you eagerly flipping pages.

Slim to None by Timothy Sheard (Hard Ball Press, $15) is the fourth in his atmospheric series showcasing Lenny Moss, a Philadelphia-area hospital custodian and shop steward.

Moss gets a frantic late-night call from Carleton, a friend and hospital worker, who sees a man furtively dumping a nurse's body a nearby park.

After the conversation, Carleton calls 911 but doesn't stick around. Police discover the victim and think Carleton's the killer. He flees, but keeps in touch with Moss.

Discovering unnerving facts, Moss investigates. There are many tense scenes inside the hospital as Moss becomes the target of a clever killer, while an over-zealous security chief creates extra challenges.

Laced with dark humor and told with an insider's knowledge, this fast-paced, nifty paperback is the best yet in the series.

Ray Walsh
This article also appeared in the
Lansing State Journal on July 11, 2010

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