Publication Date: May 15, 2012
Lucas Davenport returns in the 22nd novel in the series by John Sandford. Lucas is mugged and his arm is broken. While he heals, Lucas is caught up in a case of a family brutally murdered. The family has a lot of money going out that seems to not have an origin. Lucas must follow the trail to discover why the family was killed and to stop the rapid pile of bodies landing on the door of the case.
I love John Sanford’s books. I’ve read every single one and there are those that I like less but none that I like not at all. This book falls middle of the pack. Lucas has evolved, as is natural with a character that’s been around as long as he has. He’s grown from the careless cop we meet in Rules of Prey (Lucas Davenport) who would kill the bad guy rather than take his chance with the justice system to a guy who methodically plans a strategy. He’s now a family man with a wife and children to think about when he dives headfirst into solving a crime. I would even go as far to say that he was passive in his pursuit of the case in the first part of this book.
Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t his case but in recent novels it never really is his case. He’s an agent with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension so just inserts himself into what interests him and this case, in its brutality, does. Lucas is more passionate about the secondary case, which is his own mugging. He has everyone’s favorite guy, Virgil Flowers, looking for the people who attacked him. I love the insertion of Flowers into the more recent books. Sandford said that he started writing Flowers because Lucas was getting older. Virgil is no replacement Lucas. He’s his own unique character and really shines in this novel, however brief his appearances.
Lucas would not be who he is without his home life but I am a reader who maintains we can get hints of that but see it mostly off screen. I like Letty and I’d like to see her have her own series. She is truly a junior Lucas. She plays a heavy part in this novel that some folks will believe and some won’t. This reader believed her role. She is not like other kids. I love the way she always has Lucas’ back.
Okay, here’s something weighing on my mind – is it just me or are Jenkins and Shrake almost new characters in each novel? Each story we learn something new about them that alters the way we think of these semi-thuggish cops. Jenkins, in Stolen Prey is described as “a wall.” He and Shrake (and I think this gives nothing away) break into the trunk of a car and Shake is the brains. Who thought, before this book, that Shrake was the brains? I think all we learn is consistent with what we read and finding these new gems of who they are is just so cool to me.
The story was a good one but Sandford has written better. I’d normally give his novels 5 stars but this one lands a solid 4. These baddies, while brutal, just didn’t bring me into the storyline the way Sandford’s previous baddies have. Still, I’d solidly recommend Stolen Prey as a better than average read.
I look forward to seeing what Sandford has planned for Letty in future. Her own series, perhaps?