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The Night Crew (Prey) Hardcover – April 7, 1997

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Editorial Reviews Review

Anna Batory's evening starts with a frenzied animal rights raid and then moves quickly to the site of a suicide jump. It's all in a normal night's work for Anna, who leads the Night Crew, a freelance video team out to make a quick buck on sensational footage they can sell to L.A. news stations. But this night is different: the jumper is a teenager named Jacob Harper, and Anna's cameraman Jason beats a strangely hasty exit after filming the jump. A few hours later, Jason too is dead: shot and knifed.

Jacob Harper's father is an attractive former cop who works out the connection between his son's death and Jason's. The two young men share a drug dealer--and when Harper finds said dealer dead as well, he calls Anna to the scene and shows her a creepy knife wound on the dealer's body: the name "Anna" carved into his chest. From that moment on, Anna knows she's chasing down a killer who's got a thing for her--but who is it? A series of heart-thumping encounters between Anna and her shadowy stalker keep this thriller moving at the dizzying clip that Sandford's fans expect.

Those who love the Prey series for the quirks and contradictions of its antihero, Lucas Davenport, will find a kindred creation in Anna: an attractive loner, taciturn and tough-minded, a classical pianist with the fighting reflexes of a wild animal. Will Sandford keep bringing her back? Time will tell. --Barrie Trinkle

From Library Journal

The author of eight previous thrillers in his "Prey" series (e.g., Sudden Prey, LJ 4/1/96), Sandford here provides an action-packed novel. Anna Batory, deceptively thin and small for a woman who is both emotionally and physically tough, heads an L.A. unit of video freelancers who search for news by night. The story begins in medias res with the crew covering first an animal rights protest and then a young man's jumping from a building to his death. That night, Jason O'Brien, Anna's back-up cameraman, is viciously slain. It soon becomes apparent that the violence is connected to and aimed at Anna. Jake Harper, a former policeman and father of the jumper, becomes Anna's bodyguard and lover. This thriller has an appealing heroine and well-developed secondary characters. The dialog is clever and hard-edged, black humor abounds, and the romance factor is handled deftly. Unfortunately, while the villain is sufficiently vicious and his crimes grisly, he ultimately comes across as pathetic rather than menacing. Still, Sanford fans will not be disappointed; this is an exciting thriller. Recommended for general readers.
-?Jacqueline Seewald, Red Bank Regional H.S., Little Silver, N.J.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Prey
  • Hardcover: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (April 7, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399142371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399142376
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.4 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #445,575 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

I had a very hard time figuring out what was happening and why.
Brian H. Galloway
It has well developed characters with a great story line, lots of action, and a great ending.
Kindle Customer
I've read this book at least four times over the many years since it's publication.
bonny french

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Daniel J. Connelly on August 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Like other reviewers, I am a big fan of the Prey Series. And like other reviewers, I found the style of Night Crew substantially different from that of the Preys.
But I liked it.
With respect to the style -- there are two really obvious differences. One is the location, Los Angeles, as opposed to Minneapolis-St Paul, the center of the Prey universe. This is perhaps the biggest weakness of the book. The reader doesn't get a real feel for the locale, or the feeling Sandford spent much time there. LA was just a name, with its associated collection of street names, but it could have been almost anywhere else, for all I knew. I had no sense of the atmosphere that comes out in Michael Connelly's work.
The other obvious difference is the main character is female. I find it fascinating when an author writes on a protagonist of the opposite gender. In this case, Sandford is more successful, as far as I can tell as a male. I never had the feeling that the character was straying into a male perspective.
Other aspects of the book were also good. Unlike most of the Prey material, this book was a bit more mystery, a bit less thriller. In mysteries, the question is what did happen, while in thrillers, the question is only what will happen. And Sandford plays fair. He provides enough clues for educated conjecture without making it easy on the reader to guess the answer.
I also liked the characters. Probing characters isn't Sandford's strong point in any of his work. But I found the ones in this book likeable and, unlike other reviewers, I found them believable.
So I recommend Night Crew. It was a lot of fun to read, and I didn't feel at all cheated at the end. It isn't Lucas Davenport, but it doesn't need to be.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. T. Mikesell on September 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Written with the same choppy scenes of an MTV video or the guerrilla journalism film of the story's main characters, this novel is quite unlike Sandford's Prey or Kidd series. Not only is the pacing and style different, but also his male characters have fully embraced their feminine sides to the point of being almost wimpy (even a minor character, a massive weightlifter, can freely admit to his fear of surgery). Perhaps this is to enhance his female protagonist's machoness, perhaps it's a slam at sunny California from the security of his snowbound Minnesota; either way it's a noticeable departure from his stubborn, tough-as-nails, manly-men characters.

Sandford has structured The Night Crew like a standard mystery, where the reader doesn't discover the identity of the killer until the heroine does. This means a lot of dead ends, as every last red herring has to be tracked down before the case cracks wide open. This too is a departure from Sandford's standard fare.

As with any "introductory novel," Anna Batory's story is packed with background information about its characters. Combined with the brief story segments, accommodating all the backstory makes for some very choppy, occasionally disoriented reading. I'm sure some of this is intentional, but at times it all became a little overwhelming. Combined with a lackluster serial killer (there's really nothing to him beyond general creepiness and a generic FBI profile) and several noticeable plot holes (How is Anna's neighbor able to check up on Creek who's registered in the hospital under an alias? Why aren't suspects immediately written off when they lack the requisite facial damage?), and The Night Crew becomes a run-of-the-mill story, rather than a masterpiece.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Saperstein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Fortunately, this was not the first John Sandford novel I've read. Had it been, I probably would never have discovered the delights of Sandford's "Prey" series, which is far more accomplished and enthralling.

"Night Crew" is about Anna Bantory who runs a free-lance TV crew that roams Los Angeles at night, gathering footage they hope to sell to television stations. One night, they tape a raid by animal activists. Coincidentally a call comes in that someone is on a hotel window ledge and may jump. Anna's crew records the jump.

Hours later, someone murders a member of Anna's crew and off we go into the pursuit of a crazed killer who is obsessed with Anna.

Ho-hum. The characters are thin, the plot contrived and the novel interminable. It's not a total waste of time, but there are many other cop-novels out there that are far more enjoyable, including Sandford's own "Prey" series, which I highly recommend.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael Butts HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
John Sandford is obviously a prolific and talented writer, as evidenced by the success of his Lucas Davenport "Prey" series. However, with "The Night Crew," I have to wonder why all the hoopla? Granted, this book has a very interesting and unusual premise---following a bunch of "reporters" who film unusual or bizarre accidents/murders/arsons, as they occur. The main character, Anna, is sympathetic and you can relate to her, in some ways. The book's best character, Jake, the ex-cop, is also quite different and interesting.
Alas, however; the plot gets so confusing and the identity of the murder is so "convenient," yet unexplained. The ending, both in regards to what occurs with Anna and Jake's relationship, and Creek's strange visit to Anna's ex-boyfriend, is just frustrating. No closure!
Now, if Sandford intends a series, this ending might work, but if he doesn't, he's robbed the reader of the all-important resolution of vital closure. A real disappointment.
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