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Certain Prey Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 2000

422 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

In the 10th installment of his popular Prey series, John Sandford (a.k.a. John Camp) pits his popular antihero, Lucas Davenport, against a pair of cunning killers unlike any he has encountered before.

Attorney Carmel Loan is preternaturally beautiful, intelligent, and ambitious. When she becomes infatuated with fellow barrister Hale Allen, she isn't going to let a little thing like his being married get in her way. A quick meeting with an ex-client sets up the hit on Hale's wife, Barbara. The professional killer, Clara Rinker, is one of the best in the business. Smart, attractive, with a gentle Southern drawl, no one would suspect her of being a top Mafia hit man... er, hit person. When she takes the Allen assignment, she figures it will be easy money for a day's work. But things go wrong from the beginning. Loan's ex-client made a tape of the meeting, and is shaking her down for money. Worse, the shooting of a witness--a cop--brings deputy inspector Lucas Davenport into the case. Somehow Davenport has not only linked Loan to the killing, but seems to have a lead on Rinker as well. Carmel and Clara team up to clean up the loose ends, which includes getting Davenport off their back by whatever means necessary.

Like all of Sandford's books, Certain Prey is a fast and furious ride. Fans of previous Prey books will find Davenport a little older, a little more wary, but no less sharp-witted and determined. Though parts of the plot may stretch the limits of credulity and the dialogue falls a little flat in places, this is still a wonderfully crafted thriller, possibly one of the best of 1999. Certain Prey cements Sandford's standing among such luminaries as James Lee Burke, Lawrence Block, and Thomas Harris. --Perry Atterberry --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

For all his brooding, Minneapolis cop Lucas Davenport lacks the charisma of, say, Robert B. Parker's Spenser or James Patterson's Alex Cross. The vast popularity of the Prey novels is probably due, then, not so much to this dependable hero as to Sandford's clever plotting, sure pacing and fully rounded villainsAas well as his smart prose. As if acknowledging his series' hero's unflashy demeanor, Sandford, in his 10th Prey book (after Secret Prey), allows two gleefully unrecalcitrant female antagonists to steal the show from Davenport. Clara Rinker's life as a murderer and mob hit woman begins when she is raped at age 16 and beats her assailant dead with a baseball bat. Years later, the other femme fatale, sociopathic Minneapolis defense lawyer Carmel Loan, hires Rinker to kill the wife of property attorney Hale Allen, whom Carmel desires; within days, she has Hale in bed. The storyline spools out as a cat-and-mouse among the women and Davenport, with the villainesses dominating the action, sometimes in tangential scenes. When the junkie who connected Carmel to Rinker blackmails the pair, for instance, Carmel tortures him with an electric drill as Rinker watches. The action doesn't always wash: Davenport tumbles to Carmel's involvement too easily, and Carmel's ferocious response to being framed by Davenport redefines the term "over the top." The play between the two women, who bond like sisters, is as fascinating as the courtship of venomous lizards, and the novel's background humAcomprised of various amatory rustlings, forensic and legal ploys, and maneuvers among cops, FBI agents, mobsters and the killersAis rich in authentic detail. While not the pseudonymous Sandford's best, (he is Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Camp) this is a swift, satisfying entry in a series with long, muscular legs. 300,000 first printing; $300,000 ad/promo; BOMC main selection; author tour. (May) FYI: Mind Prey was adapted into a TV movie, John Sandford's Mind Prey, which aired on ABC in March .
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Prey (Book 10)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (March 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425174271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425174272
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (422 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #481,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Sandford was born John Camp on February 23, 1944, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He attended the public schools in Cedar Rapids, graduating from Washington High School in 1962. He then spent four years at the University of Iowa, graduating with a bachelor's degree in American Studies in 1966. In 1966, he married Susan Lee Jones of Cedar Rapids, a fellow student at the University of Iowa. He was in the U.S. Army from 1966-68, worked as a reporter for the Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian from 1968-1970, and went back to the University of Iowa from 1970-1971, where he received a master's degree in journalism. He was a reporter for The Miami Herald from 1971-78, and then a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer-Press from 1978-1990; in 1980, he was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, and he won the Pulitzer in 1986 for a series of stories about a midwestern farm crisis. From 1990 to the present he has written thriller novels. He's also the author of two non-fiction books, one on plastic surgery and one on art. He is the principal financial backer of a major archaeological project in the Jordan Valley of Israel, with a website at In addition to archaeology, he is deeply interested in art (painting) and photography. He both hunts and fishes. He has two children, Roswell and Emily, and one grandson, Benjamin. His wife, Susan, died of metastasized breast cancer in May, 2007, and is greatly missed.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have enjoyed all of the Sanford "Prey" novels, being caught right off the bat with the first one many years ago and this is my favorite.
As opposed to many of the books out this summer this is not about a serial killer, but a contract killer and the character of Clara Rinker is wonderful - smart, a killer with a conscience. And to come at it from both sides, know the plot and the killer up front, but see how the police and FBI figure it out. You wonder in real life how much of crime solving is luck. Probably more than any of us would like to realize.
I was also happy that Lucas seemed not to be in a depressed state. What a pleasant change. I realize that he doesn't have a woman in his life - but neither is he depressed or suicidal because he doesn't. Thank you - sometimes it is possible to be happy and productive alone.
I do miss the character in this book of his friend the nun - but hopefully she will turn up in future books, she's wonderful.
Sanford is very good at giving the minutae of an investigation but keeping the pace taut and the characters smart. Excellent reading as always.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By R. G. Huxley - Thriller Author on February 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am a huge Sandford fan and I love the character, Lucas Davenport. Lucas has always reminded me of Dirty Harry and i like that. In Certain Prey, Davenport must face a smart killer. She has little remorse at times and does what she needs to get the job done. I loved watchign the relationship betweeen the killer and Lucas develop. It was as if they had some respect for the other. Unlike his previous Prey novels, this one seems to focus more on the two female killers and Lucas seems to be more of a supporting character. I really enjoyed this edition to the Prey series. This is classic Sandford and one that I'm sure you will trully enjoy. Do not pass this one up! You can read this and not have read any of the others. I do recommend going back and starting though with Rules of Prey and see how Lucas has evolved as a detective. This one is a real gem!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Varga, Balint on June 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I've been an avid fan of John Sandford's books for a decade now and was sorry to see that Lucas Davenport seemed to have lost his edge. I was wary when I picked up the book: I didn't want to get disappointed but Sandford surprised the hell out of me.
His latest in the Prey series is his best yet. The story has frightening insights: Sandford was able to draw the profile of a memorable serial killer perfectly. His portrayal ranks amongst the very best ones I've ever read. But not only the story is superb. Something happened to Sandford. His prose whas never been extremely vivid or pewrful but in Certain Prey he not only exceeded himself but most of the genre. His style breathes it's so fresh. Not one bad sentence in his dialogues. His conversations with his bride-to-be Weather, his interactions with his peers are so vividly written that I felt for the first time: Lucas Davenport is a living, almost larger than life cop, not just an interesting character who seeks the advice of a nun, who drives a Porsche and who designs softwares.
If you haven't read Sandford and want to know him, this is the best book to start with.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By djbrkns on September 4, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book has some of the far-fetched, convenient 'coincidences' that in another author's hands, would have failed miserably. But not Sanford's. He works everything into the story so convincingly that instead of a wrap up at the end of the book to explain who done it and how, we get a comfortable and casual conclusion as Sanford coasts to the end of another winner. Of course a winner from Sanford is no longer expected on the onset of a new episode it is confirmed beforehand. With so many best selling authors, it is quite obvious that elements of the plot have been resolved in the author's head without being written down for the reader. John Sanford is so thorough in translating his thoughts to paper that we are not left with unexplained holes and more importantly not insulted by obligatory explanations to fill in said holes. What Sanford has done here is an amazing success.
Clara Rinker is my favorite Sanford villain yet and one I actually didn't mind spending time with. I was actually pulling for her. The very elaborate murder series and ensuing cover up was so meticulous that it had me thinking Sanford should be careful before he becomes a consultant for hit men everywhere. All of the characters, including the villains, are fun. And the dialog... well if I start itemizing it would get repetitious. An outstanding piece of work.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey T. Saathoff on January 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I love the Lucas Davenport series and wished they would be made into movies, but let's get to the book.
I thought John Sanford created two great villains in the lawyer and the bounty hunter and their interaction early on the book kept me riveted. However, as smart as they were early on in the book, they seemed to lose some of their steam at the end of the book.
I found the last 1/3 of the book to be rather ordinary, and as good as Lucas is, its hard to believe all the pieces fall into place for him during this mystery.
I'll read the next one that comes out, but I hope we see a little more vulnerability back in Lucas in the next one.
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