Monday, June 26, 2017

Storm Prey

Storm Prey
by John Sandford
Recommended Ages: 14+

Sometimes, you have to read most of a book to figure out why it came to be titled so-and-so. In this installment, deep within a long series of crime thrillers that all have "Prey" in their title, the only question in a franchise fan's mind, besides "You don't mean Storm Front, do you?" (Answer: No; that's one of Sandford's "Virgil Flowers" novels) is, "What is stormy about it?" The storm might be a play on the name of Davenport's wife Weather, a surgeon at a major Twin Cities hospital, who finds herself targeted by killers while participating in a complex series of surgeries to separate a pair of conjoined twins. It might, after all, be a literal reference to the blizzard that blankets the ultra-violent ending of this book. Or it might simply be a subtle nod to the old saying, "It never rains, but it pours." The proverb seems to apply in this case, when a little crime - three small-time crooks and a drug-addicted emergency room doctor knocking over a hospital pharmacy early one winter morning - sets loose a whirlwind of betrayal, torture, kidnapping, and murder that doesn't let up until nearly all of the crooks are dead, along with several innocent people.

If you've read this whole series, and can't remember which book is which, maybe this will help. This is the book in which a hired killer rides a motorcycle up alongside Weather's car on the freeway, planning to shoot her through the side window... and she swerves into his lane, nearly running him over, then chases him. When the key witness to a crime is that tough to rub out, it's no wonder the gang starts turning against each other. In spite of the bloodbath, there always remains someone who wants to shut Weather up, even if that means dropping a grenade inside the very hospital where she is helping save the lives of two baby girls.

The whole crowd is back in this ensemble crime novel, including chick-magnet Virgil Flowers (who had his own series by the time this book broke), the hilariously thuggish Jenkins and Shrake (Who knew Shrake could play the piano?), typographically named Del Capslock (who is about due to become a father, around the time-frame of this book), and more. But as always, the one who scares the bad guys, driving them to increasingly desperate and reckless acts, is Davenport himself. He's a scary guy, and I can't guarantee that, given a chance to meet him in real life, I would like him or trust him, but there's no denying, you don't want to be the crook he's trying to catch. It just wouldn't be good for you.

This is the 20th of currently 27 "Lucas Davenport" mysteries by John Sandford, a pen-name of Pulitzer-winning journalist John Camp. Click here for a mansplanation of why I'm reading this series so atrociously out of canon order; sorry, I'm just tired of repeating it. Regrettably, I had to skip Book 19, Wicked Prey, because my local public library no longer has a copy of it; but I'm already enthusiastically into Book 21, Buried Prey - in which Davenport revisits one of his earliest cases, one that he mentions in this book. Like the whole series, this book keeps the pages turning, even to the point of causing a problem - like, by the time I get a chance to write a review of one book, I'm so deep into the next book that I get them a little mixed up. I'm not mixed up, however, when I say this is fine entertainment, albeit with a sharp edge and an adult content advisory.

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