I’ve just completed the latest (32nd) book in John Sandford’s “Prey” series which features cop, detective, Marshall, and sleuth Lucas Davenport. This series began in 1989 with Rules of Prey, and the word “Prey” is in all the titles. I’ve become a solid Sandford fan over the years and have read his other books featuring Virgil Flowers, Kidd, and some of his non-series books as well, most recently 2015’s Saturn Run.
Righteous Prey feels a bit like an aging rock group on a tour. They know their audience well and present a set filled with favorite hits, a few lesser-known numbers, and some new stuff. The band gives each member a share of the limelight, soloing here and there. The audience leaves content and happy — gratified all the important things are the same and they’ve got some new stuff to think about. Sandford reminds us of Davenport’s dislike of mornings and appreciation of fashion and unhealthy food while touching on his family and contacts. He brings in computer whiz Kidd and characters established in other novels, including his Washington, DC contacts. Virgil Flowers (or should I say “that fuckin’ Flowers”?) is as involved as in the last book, Ocean Prey. So much so, these books likely belong on the lists of both series.
This time Davenport is brought in to track down a group of rich vigilantes who have decided to kill off a bunch of “assholes.” While what constitutes an “asshole” may reveal a teeny bit of Sandford’s political leanings, it’s pretty subtle and far from grandstanding. Perhaps to justify making his travel tax-deductible, Sanford moves Lucas and Virgil around the country, although it’s the regular references to landmarks in and around the Twin Cities of Minnesota that are the most fun for me, as I know them so well. Bitcoin comes up in the novel several times and, fortunately, no effort is made to explain it, which was smart. All the police procedural stuff is present as usual and, of course, the efforts made by Davenport and Flowers always work better than the Feds or the local cops. The new stuff, such as Virgil Flowers becoming a novelist, allows Sandford to have fun mentioning other successful authors of crime fiction, including Sandford himself – “that cop in Minneapolis who never takes a shit.”
Next up for me is the second book featuring Letty Davenport, Lucas’s adopted daughter, titled Dark Angel. I’ve pre-ordered it and it ships in early April. I look forward to another enjoyable read.