John Sandford’s shockeroo… and don’t forget Lit Fest

John Sandford celebrates the maturity of his “prey” series – 21 novels featuring Minnesota cop Lucas Davenport – with a look back at the past.  Construction workers have uncovered the plastic-sheathed bodies of two little girls under a concrete slab, and by so doing, uncover an episode in Davenport’s past that has nagged at him for many years.

And thus the reader slides back to 1985, getting a view of Lucas as a uniform cop, sharp, headstrong, and willing to bend the rules, but still young enough to be willing to set aside his own instincts for the advice of wiser and more experienced colleagues… plus the promise of the career path he desires.  It wasn’t really a quid pro quo, but it was definitely understood that making waves wouldn’t do.  It suited everyone’s interests to consider the case closed with the death of the main suspect.

This is Lucas pre-Weather, pre-kids, and well before the big bucks that came his way as a video game developer.  In fact, in Buried Prey, Lucas is fooling around with his second game and isn’t expecting any big payoff.  He’s still a devil with the women and a loyal friend.

As I mentioned, the girls’ kidnapping was closed when the suspect died, but the mystery lived on.  The discovery of the girls’ bodies led to the realization that the suspect couldn’t have committed the crime, and Davenport’s left with a sick feeling… not only did he miss the opportunity to solve the case 25  years ago, but there’s every likelihood that the real bad guy has been out there, attacking little girls, year after year.

And so he has.  Davenport rejoins his old colleagues to unearth the truth and finds several cases with the same MO… including one where the girl got away.  The killer, cunning but not all that smart, is backed into a corner and is forced to kill again to cover his tracks.  Despite his deep-seated preference for knives, he comes out guns blazing and there’s a resulting shocking death (I’ll say no more). Needless to say, the criminal gets his comeuppance.

Buried Prey will be a hit with Sandford fans and new readers alike.  Although I’ve read and enjoyed the other books in the series, you don’t need to read them all in order to understand the relationships or the backstory in this one.  It’s fun to see the young Lucas… like many crime novel heroes, he has a tendency to be smarter, suaver, and bigger than life.  In this one, his flaws show.

Hey, Lit Fest Tomorrow!  Be sure to go!  I’m totally excited except for the fact that the weather forecast has changed and now SUNDAY is the sunny day.  But I’ve got tickets to stuff and I’m planning to meet my long-time friend Anne there, so I will just stick an umbrella in my tote bag (along with an extra book bag) and get myself on the el.  It will be fun no matter what.

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