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Field of Prey Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged by John Sandford (Author)

As a long-time fan of Sandford’s Prey series who has read many of the books twice, I always love reading about Lucas Davenport’s latest investigations and the killer he is forced to pursue. My favorite part of the Davenport books has always been learning about the dark, unique killers Davenport matches wits against, and seeing what trick Davenport pulls out of his bag to take the bad guy down. The Prey books have also always been notable for its great supporting cast, from Lucas’ family, to his trusty right-hand man Del and the rest of the BCA crew, to Lucas’ psychologist-nun BFF Elle. However, Sandford has put Lucas through a lot of changes over the years, particularly by domesticating Lucas from the hard-boiled, womanizing young cop to the bureaucratic husband and father. It is this latter version of Lucas that Sandford has presented to readers for a while now, but after reading the latest Prey novel, it made me wish for the Lucas of yesteryear. There are several problems with the novel. First, the main plot itself is thin–serial killer terrorizes women, and Lucas has to bring him down. Been there, done that with Lucas, and more than once. Sandford employs a schtick with this particular killer that isn’t particularly surprising when it is revealed, and just seems forced. As I mentioned above, Sandford has a knack for developing interesting and unpredictable antagonists who aren’t simply omniscient, Hannibal Lecter-type evil geniuses, and in a way are more terrifying because of how realistic they are. Yet the killer here is incredibly one-dimensional, and the aforementioned schtick just makes the killer’s chapters rather silly. Further hurting the book’s plot is the fact that Sandord throws in nearly half-a-dozen subplots on top of the main plot, four of which are separate criminal investigations involving the rest of his BCA team. The one involving Virgil Flowers is simply a tie-in to Virgil’s latest investigation, which I believe is the subject of the latest novel his own spin-off series. The other investigations don’t really tie into the main story at all, and while Sandford has employed this tactic before, he has never introduced so many separate crimes in a single novel. None of these side-plots are particularly interesting, and apart from a dramatic moment involving a supporting character these amounted to little more than filler. Also, without giving too much away, Virgil actually ties into the story in more ways than one, and the resolution of the main story is actually moreso due to him than to Davenport’s efforts. I like Virgil Flowers as much as the next Sandford fan, but I didn’t get this to book to read about him. I wanted to read about Lucas. The tie-ins to Virgil were distracting, and unnecessary. Davenport really just doesn’t do much in this book. A lot of the focus is given to a new character (well, a newish character. ..I think she may have been introduced in a Virgil Flowers book, though I’m not sure)–police officer Catrin Matsson, who was one of the best parts of the book for me. A lot of focus was also given to Lucas’ adopted daughter, Letty, whom I think Sandford still hasn’t figured out how to utilize since introducing her in Naked Prey. While Letty was awesome in that book, I’ve always felt like Letty was either a non-presence or a distraction since then, with the exception of Stolen Prey. As other reviews mentioned, Letty just randomly inserts herself into the investigation in this book, and Lucas–nor anyone else–seems to have no problem with this whatsoever, even though she’s only 18. It really took away from the believability factor for me, and the way Sandford ultimately deals with Letty at the end of the book comes across as if he’s just getting rid of her so he doesn’t have to worry about her anymore. I kept wishing for the Prey books that covered the period from when Lucas met Weather and rejoined the Minneapolis PD to when he finally married Weather–from around Winter Prey to Mortal Prey, I think. Those are my favorite books in the series, featuring great moments from Lucas and the supporting cast and awesome villains. Unfortunately, almost none of those are to be found in this book. I almost got the sense that Sandford was bored writing about Lucas, as if he couldn’t wait to get back to Virgil, or perhaps write a spin-off series about Letty or Matsson. I hope that’s not the case, because I would love to see Lucas Davenport back on his A-game. Here, we get about a C or D game. Still entertaining, but one of the weakest entries in the series. Check it out!

From Booklist *Starred Review* A couple of high-school lovers conclude an evening of passion in rural Minnesota by noticing a really bad smell. They inform the local cops, who find an underground cistern filled with God knows how many bodies and body parts. It’s obviously not a job for local cops, so Lucas Davenport and his Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are called in. There are 15 skulls and counting when Lucas arrives. The early forensic examinations reveal the killings have been going on for years. How did someone not notice? Davenport’s usual partners are engaged in other investigations, so he teams up with Catrin Mattsson, a detective with the county sheriff’s office. They seem a mismatched pair at first. She resents his wealth, and he sees her as a bit of a confrontational smart-ass. They wade through a couple of false leads, one supplied by an eight-year-old beauty pageanteer whose parents view the ensuing publicity as a “big break.” There are a couple other investigatory sidebars, but when the killer decides Mattsson should be his next victim, the case escalates quickly. Sandford writes best-sellers more often than most of us take vacations. This is as engaging and thrilling as any of them, even with a subplot that feels unnecessary. But that’s like whining about Willie Mays striking out once while hitting four home runs in a game. As always, Sandford and Lucas are superb. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: You could say “same old, same old,” but in Sandford’s case, you’d mean another top-notch thriller destined for best-seller lists. That’s the good kind of “same old, same old.” –Wes Lukowsky –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Field of Prey Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged by John Sandford (Author) Review

Im a big fan of the Prey series but this is just weak. A pair of teenagers stumble onto a cache of corpses and were off and running. A little traction is gained initially but the bus gets lost and meanders around before skidding off the road into the obvious finale. Ill cite three flaws (Spoiler alert). Very early on, a little girl reports seeing a local postman near the scene of a crime. It doesnt take Lucas long to figure out that wasnt who she saw but rather someone who resembled him. The correct course should be evident. Hes dealing with a couple towns that contain maybe a few hundred families. Just take the photo of the postman around to shops, banks, etc. and ask who looks like him. But, this doesnt occur to Lucas until the closing pages of the book, Sandwiched between those two events is a lot of filler. And thats the second issue. Lucas is distracted by cases that Del is working on in Texas and Virgil is investigating downstate. The digressions have nothing to do with the plot and appear to be boring filler to bloat this up to novel length. Finally, there are a few things that just ring silly in the real world. For instance, a local policewoman, who obviously has personality issues through the book, is captured by the perpetrator, imprisoned and repeatedly raped and savagely beaten. Upon being liberated, she bashes his brains out with a crowbar after hes been subdued. So, you have someone who had issues going into this case, failed to contribute much to the investigation, got herself captured, was traumatized beyond belief and kills a helpless suspect (not proven but it was evident). What does BCS do? Offer her a job! Every law enforcement unit Ive had contact with uses psychological screening, with good reason. Apparently, its a concept beyond the grasp of BCS. Much of the Prey series gives you an intellectual and emotional workout. This is simply chewing gum for the mind. -Read Reviews-

This was an interesting book as it contains some of John Sandford’s greatest strengths (humour, easy to read style etc) but it did contain some issues that other reviewers have brought up and I felt were jarring. Letty is a character who we have seen mature in the series over the years and there is no doubt she is a bright individual but for Lucas to bring her to a crime scene and for her to give her thoughts to the other investigators and police was really overreaching. The subplots with Flowers and Del were strange as they added little to the plot but took up space in the novel that at 400 pages, it didn’t need. The ending with the karma and Lucas felt like he is being softened too much. We had touches earlier in the novel of the old Lucas (the scene where he smiled but it wasn’t really a smile, this was a copy from Winter Prey) but to have this at the end of the novel with the homeless man felt forced. The violence against Mattsson is something that I am sure will bring arguments for and against it in a Sandford novel. Personally I thought it was a bit over the top and unnecessary but I assume the author felt there was a valid reason for it. Those were some of my issues with the novel but that being said, it was an easy to read time filler written by a writer with skills and the ability to harness a very solid fan base based on his work. He might be on cruise control now that he is famous and writing a few books a year but I think his fans will accept this by casting a fond glance back to the early Davenport books and a shrug of the shoulders with the recent work and say that Davenport and the author are evolving.

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