Book Review of Night Prey (Lucas Davenport, Bk 6)

Night Prey (Lucas Davenport, Bk 6)
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I'm working my way through John Sandford's Lucas Davenport series, strictly in the order they were published. This is book number 6 and I have to say Sandford is definitely getting better and better.

Following 'Winter Prey', the porsche driving, game writing, definitely hard-boiled Davenport continues to evolve as a believable and somtimes not too likeable character. His romantic interest, Weather Karkinnen, has becomes a fixture in Davenport's home. Weather played a major role in the last book, actually saving Davenport's life when a gunshot wound to the throat stopped his breathing. Prior to Weather, Davenport has produced a daughter from a previous relationship with a journo, Jennifer. The reader is left to wonder how Weather came to move to the city, given Sandford had oulined the duty she felt to the small town that had paid her college tuition (in Winter Prey). Weather has now been installed as a surgeon in the big city, we just have to wonder about her lifespan and safety as Davenport's lover.

Aside from that, there is also an undercurrent of erotic tension between Davenport and a female reporter in this book. Maybe it's cos I'm a woman, but this aspect of Davenport's nature really irritates me! You want the man to be faithful and here he is spieling about how women with overbites are deliberately hired as news anchors because this facial anomaly reminds men of oral sex! Interesting fact? It got me thinking, which I like in a crime book, but you have to wonder what's going on in Sandford's mind! I guess this is a realistic insight into the secret lives of men as channelled by Lucas Davenport. Us girls can like it or lump it.

In 'Night Prey' we have Davenport unwillingly teamed up with a State investigator who has terminal cancer. Connell is obsessed with this case, tracking down a serial rapist and murderer, before she succumbs to her illness. Sandford gives us a dual narrative, interspersing Davenport and his teams' point of view with that of their quarry "Koop". Stanford has really nailed the creep factor with this guy. He is smart, strong, perverted and frightening. The initial scene has him in the bedroom of the woman he is to become obsessed with, during a cat burglary. Something about Sara Jenson triggers Koop to escalate his deviant behavior and to begin literally killing in her name (or initials). He creeps her apartment, stalks and watches her. Stanford has created a nightmare perp in "Night Prey"; Koop is also incredibly savvy about important things like evidence and is determined not to make any errors that will lead Davenport and his team in his direction. This of course makes for great reading and a lot of frustration for Davenport, Connell and the cops that have featured before in the series, Del and Sloan.

Stanford has created great characters that move with the times. Lucas' extremely profitable game writing hobby is morphing more towards creating simulations for law enforcement officers. This book was written in 1994, so its interesting to keep track of how Davenport's side-interest in computers remains contemporary. How long will he be using WordPerfect I wonder?

So, erotic overbites aside, Sandford also introduces subjects like cat burglary (and why there is apparently always a sexual aspect to this form of robbery), a little bit about the culture of deaf people and the daily life of a surgeon (via Weather), all interesting stuff that complements the action and makes reading these books seem just that bit more educative.

Sandford has another Davenport book coming out soon (2007). In the meantime, this reader must resist temptation until the entire series to date has been read. The Davenport series is on my permanent pre-order list now, along with, for example, Connelly's Bosch and James Lee Burke's Robicheaux. If you want well-written, complexly plotted yet tenable hard boiled fare, then put Davenport on the menu, the books are hard to put down and haven't disappointed yet.