Secret Prey by John Sandford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
From Goodreads: John Sandford is back with his dapper, dangerous Minneapolis deputy police chief Lucas Davenport for a ninth "preyer" meeting. Fans of the series will be glad to hear that it's full of smart suspense and deduction as well as explosive action. Davenport and his fellow cops are still recovering from the deadly revenge scheme that maimed them in Sudden Prey, which seems to have ended the relationship between Lucas and his doctor lady friend. This accounts for the depression that dogs him as he is sent to investigate the killing of top banking executive Daniel Kresge in a hunting lodge north of Minneapolis. Any of Kresge's four fellow hunters--all employees at his Polaris Bank--could have shot him, and all had motives, as did his almost ex-wife. About halfway through the book we find out who the real killer is, just a few pages before Lucas does, and that villain is a masterful creation, an example of the banality of evil worthy of Hannah Arendt. This is where Sandford's beautifully honed skills at creating suspense really kick in: he keeps us fascinated as Davenport, revitalized by an affair with a jaunty colleague, tries to turn what we all know into hard evidence. --Dick Adler
My astute readers will notice I skipped a few books here. I totally bounced off of Mind Prey (#7). It was too sqwicky for me and I couldn't bring myself to read more than the first couple of chapters. And somehow I became confused and thought Secret Prey was book 8 when in fact it was book 9. Small irony, I realized my mistake and the next day the library notified me that Sudden Prey (book 8) was available for pick-up. Will go back and read it even though I now know what happens. A downside of series books.
But, confusion aside (I blame it on a particular hound who insisted on getting up at 3am because he either wanted a drink of water or needed to go outside, )I enjoyed Secret Prey for the simple fact that Sandford deviated from all the sexual predators that had been present up until Sudden Prey. We still have sexual abuse in the book, but it wasn't the sexual overtness that had been dominating the previous themes. I was beginning to wonder about Mr. Sandford's mental health as it is said a book is a mirror into the authors soul.
I will admit, though, that the whole Polaris bank merger plot line left me zoning out on the iPod. The characters would start scheming about who had what board votes and my mind would just drift away on the sea of names being bantered about. More than once I had to skip back a couple of tracts because I was left going "Wha..? Wait a minute...". As plot dynamics developed and solidified, the twists nicely made up for boring bank mergers.
There was also more humor in this book than previous Davenport books. I'm beginning to see flashes of wry wit that will later appear in the Virgil Flowers series. Fascinating to watch this development. Overall, a nicely balanced book that left me laughing in places, grimacing in others, and on the edge of my seat.
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