Friday, May 18, 2012

Book Review: John Sandford's Stolen Prey

"Stolen Prey", by John Sandford (Putnam $27.95), is the 22nd book in his exceptionally popular series starring Lucas Davenport, head of the Minneapolis Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

But if you're thinking twice about picking up a novel that's late in the series - don't worry - it works well as a stand-alone novel for the uninitiated. It's scheduled for release on Tuesday.

Sandford, the pseudonym for Pulitzer Prize winning former journalist John Camp, has written another excellent, mesmerizing tale that'll keep you anxiously flipping pages.

This is a solid police procedural mystery, with a touch of humor thrown in; it opens with Davenport getting robbed at gunpoint by meth addicts after withdrawing $500 from an ATM. He's got no gun, no phone and he's injured; he vows revenge.

Soon he's involved in a grisly case where an entire family has been slaughtered in their home, including two kids and three dogs.

This isn't your typical crime scene; investigators feel that drugs are likely to be involved and Mexican gang members are the killers.

Davenport and his crew look at the background of the victim, who'd produced and marketed Spanish language computer software.

A Mexican police officer and his assistant arrive on the scene; they provide useful gang and drug-related information, offering fresh insights into the gruesome murders.

Sandford's novel gets considerably more complicated from there; there are other clever criminals on the scene and they're on the run, struggling for survival.

There are numerous information leaks and Davenport's puzzled; more lives are in danger until he puts together well-hidden relevant observations.

While there are plots elements similar to Chris Pavone's "The Expats", Sandford's tale is much more violent and realistic, with strong characterization and unexpected plot twists.

Sandford's plotting works well on a variety of levels - his taut, suspenseful conclusion is both riveting and satisfying.

Virgil Flowers, the hero of five other Sandford novels, assists in solving Davenport's initial robbery case, getting results in a typical, highly unusual manner.

The best-selling author and hard-working Davenport shows no signs of slowing down; if you haven't discovered them yet, you're in for a real treat!
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop,
has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, May 13, 2012.

1 comment:

  1. I have enjoyed this series from book one and nothing has changed - I still eagerly await every new entry from one of my favourite authors - and curse myself when I finish it in a day!