It's possible that you haven't read a Lucas Davenport novel
recently. The series has been consistently good throughout its run,
but some of the early books were better than the ones that
followed. If you've been away for a while or have never encountered
John Sandford's Minneapolis police investigator, the time is nigh
to jump on with MORTAL PREY --- right now. It's the latest in the
series and is, bar none, the best.
Davenport is a complicated character, not entirely likable; he's
maybe a bit too self-satisfied and ostentatious while lacking the
charm to offset it. In other words, he's extremely realistic. His
personality flaws, however, are somewhat tempered this time around
by his pending domesticity. MORTAL PREY finds him on the threshold
of becoming a husband to Weather, his on-again, off-again,
significant other. This turn of events is occasioned, in part, by
Weather's pregnancy. Davenport actually appears to welcome this
turn of events without any regret (though there is some momentary
wistfulness). His preoccupation with the building of a new home and
the upcoming wedding is suddenly diverted, however, with the return
of Clara Rinker, the hitwoman from CERTAIN PREY, who almost killed
Davenport. Sandford sets up her return here very neatly, running
Rinker and Davenport on parallel paths.
When we encounter Rinker she is in Mexico, living under another
name and coming as close as she ever has to living a normal life.
She is engaged to the son of a Mexican crime lord and is carrying
their child. Her happiness is abruptly shattered when a sniper's
bullet kills her fiance and unborn child and leaves her gravely
wounded. It appears initially that the bullet was meant for
Rinker's future husband; Rinker, however, knows that the bullet was
meant for her. Rinker slowly recovers and plots a rough and
terrible justice against the perpetrators, her former employers in
St. Louis. Davenport is brought in by the FBI to assist them in
apprehending Rinker and protecting her potential victims --- but
Rinker has plotted very well. She seems to be three steps ahead of
her pursuers at all times and appears to be unstoppable.
Sandford, all the while, keeps things moving at a frenetic pace.
The ingeniousness with which Rinker attacks her targets leaves the
reader, as well as Davenport, grudgingly admiring her methodology.
Make no mistake, MORTAL PREY is as much about Clara Rinker as it is
about Lucas Davenport. Sandford skillfully brings the two of them
on a collision course that will leave the reader wondering --- and
quickly reading --- right up to the end.
MORTAL PREY is Sandford's 14th Davenport, aka "Prey" novel, and
demonstrates that he will probably run out of words to pair up with
"Prey" before he runs out of ideas. With Davenport on the verge of
personal and professional changes in his life, Sandford will
undoubtedly keep readers coming back for a long time to come.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011