Thursday, June 29, 2017

Buried Prey

Buried Prey
by John Sandford
Recommended Ages: 14+

This book shows how a long-running series can become new again, ironically, by looking backward at where it all started, if not farther back. When the bodies of twin girls turn up under a foundation during a large-scale demolition project, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Agent Lucas Davenport flashes back to his first case as a plainclothes detective, when the girls first went missing 30 years ago. It's a case that brings back guilty memories of a failure that perhaps led to more deaths during the years between; a case that first saw Lucas paired with his longtime Minneapolis Police partner Sloan, and with his current BCA buddy Del Capslock; a case that haunts him even more after the female detective on the case, with whom he had an affair years ago, becomes one of the killer's latter-day victims; a case in which the police investigation, then and now, was jerked around by a killer with an intimate connection with one of the detectives; a case in which mayhem and death abound, and in which Lucas is in more danger than ever of becoming a murderer himself.

I can keep this review very brief by confirming that it is, I think, the most spiritually disturbing and viscerally moving installment in this series, as far as I have read it; and by noting that, in spite of the mindblowing way the killer eludes capture, and the equally mindblowing way Davenport closes in on him, what really grabs me about it is the interplay of the characters - climaxing in a sort of intervention, with his BCA buddies gathering around Lucas and refusing to let him destroy himself. It is a case whose scars Lucas will carry on him, and in him, for many books to come. And if, like me, you've already read most of those books, you'll recognize it as the case that explains some of the je ne sais quoi that raises those books above the unchallenging tripe Books 22ff. of a long-running crime thriller series can become.

This is the 21st 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. Next on deck is Book 22, Stolen Prey.

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