Friday, August 25, 2017

Sudden Prey

Sudden Prey
by John Sandford
Recommended Ages: 14+

Minneapolis-based cop Lucas Davenport is kind of a scary guy. In this book, his plans to marry microsurgeon Weather Karkinnen hit a snag when she gets a good look at how scary he is, but people are constantly noticing it: the cold way he smiles, the hard gleam in his eye, the way he just lights up when he's on the scent of a bad guy. You might think he is the protagonist of a series of books that all have the word "Prey" in their title because he so often goes up against predators of the worst kind. But the fact is, those predators are the Prey. And Lucas Davenport is the most dangerous predator - the apex predator who hunts other predators, and likes it. When the chase is on, he comes alive. And sometimes, it looks scarily as though he means for it to end in death, and gets a charge out of it - like the way he manages the hunt for a pair of female bank robbers at the beginning of this book, maneuvering them into a situation from which they cannot escape alive.

Even though he doesn't fire a shot in the gun battle that follows, a lot of people read the situation as though he killed the two women. Among those people is a prison inmate named Dick LaChaise, who happens to be the husband of one of the women and the brother of the other. Dick takes advantage of their joint funeral to escape, plotting vengeance against the cops who cornered his late and lamented. He gathers two nut-job accomplices, a female hostage, and a crooked cop who has been blackmailed into feeding him inside information, then goes to war against Davenport's team and their families. And because they're insane, LaChaise and friends are hard to stop. There's no predicting what they'll do next, where they'll strike; and they don't particularly care whether they live or die. You know what drops out of all that, don't you? Yes, indeed: a bloodbath.

While Dick LaChaise is at war with Lucas Davenport, nowhere is safe. Not the homes or workplaces of anyone on the police payroll. Not the hospital where Weather works, nor the other hospital where the victims who survive their attacks lie injured, nor the neighborhood where Lucas's ex-girlfriend is raising their daughter. Even when the nut-jobs are holed up in their lair, bodies continue to drop because there's a cop involved, who needs to cover up his involvement. And caught in the middle is a desperate woman who needs to escape from her insane captors, but who is afraid to take the chance of running into some unknown cop who needs to silence her. Count on one thing, and one thing only: the violence and danger will only increase as the case rushes to its disturbing conclusion.

This is the eighth of currently 27 "Prey" novels featuring Lucas Davenport, back when he was a mere Deputy Chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, and before the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was even a gleam in his eye. If my verb tenses seem strange, it's because of the fact (which I have repeated a nauseating number of times) that I'm reading this series in more or less random order. To-date, this is the 12th book that I have read in the series, but the first in canon order, part of a group of books from the early-middle Davenport period that I recently picked up at a used bookstore, after exhausting the late-late Davenport books I started with, and then the late-middle books I found at the local library. It's an interesting way to progress through a series, but I would recommend starting at the beginning, with Rules of Prey. The next book after this, however, both for me and in publication order, is Secret Prey.

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