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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rules of Prey (Davenport #1) by John Sandford

#1 in the Lucas Davenport series.

I am, again, probably one of the last people around to start reading the Davenport series by Sandford, since he is now up to something like number 21 in the series. On the other hand, a positive is I don’t have to wait for the next one in the series to come out!   After having read all of the books featuring Virgil Flowers,  I decided to give the Davenport series a go, and because it was available right then, I tried out Storm Prey (#20)  I liked what I heard (audiobook) and enjoyed Sandford's style enough to read the Davenport series starting at number one. Happily I found it on audiobook - hooray!

$9.99 PB; $9.99 Nook
~496 pgs
From  John Sandford a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, has taken a stock suspense plot--a dedicated cop pursuing an ingenious serial killer--and dressed it up into the kind of pulse-quickening, irresistibly readable thriller that many of the genre's best-known authors would be proud to call their own. A killer who calls himself the "maddog" has been murdering Minneapolis women, seemingly without pattern or motive. The crimes are linked only by their brutality and by the slayer's "signature": at each scene, he leaves a written rule of crime, such as "Never kill anyone you know," or "Never carry a weapon after it has been used." Into the case comes Lucas Davenport, a policeman with five kills in the line of duty, a surefire sense of how to handle the thirsty media and strong instincts about the killer's psyche. Sandford offers no mystery here; the killer's identity is revealed in the first pages, and the suspense comes in waiting for him or Davenport to slip up. Despite one or two beginner's mistakes (an overly obvious red herring, a character inconsistency), the author knows his territory well; the result is a police procedural as effective as it is brutal.

Red herrings don’t bother me so much.  Kit and parcel in the mystery genre.  What bothers me more are scenarios where I am seriously questioning the intelligence of the police force as portrayed in the book.   But I can’t describe the particular scene(s)  without dropping some major plot bombs, and in case I’m not the last person to read this, I won’t do that to the reader, but perhaps I can summerize enough to give a feeling of my issue:  if you are doing a mulitcop stake-out, and the perp is walking down the street with the intent (we know this because the author said so) of breaking into the victim's house, wouldn't you wait till he was inside rather than trying to nab the perp outside?  Get him on breaking and entering?  Where he can't run away?  Think about this.  Get the guy inside, then surround the house.  He has no place to run. 
There were also some eerie similarities between the ending of Rules of Prey (#1) and Storm Prey (#20) which I read a while back. I sincerely hope this isn’t going to be the case in the next 18 books.  That would be...tiresome. 

Still, recommended. Especially as an audiobook.

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