213 of 220 people found the following review helpful
My wife bugged me for months to read this series and when I finally broke down, I kicked myself for not starting it sooner. Sandford's books following Minneapolis Police Detective Lucas Davenport are some of the best I've discovered in a long time. I'm working my way through the series and loving it!
Davenport is a maverick, brilliant, somewhat-womanizing detective. I wasn't sure at first whether or not I'd like the character, but I quickly found myself a big fan of his. He's a cocky loner on the surface, but the digger you deep, the more sensitivity and warmth you find. Sandford has done a wonderful job of creating a character who is both intriguing and believable. (If you're hoping to create a mystery series, you'd better come up with a compelling protagonist and Sandford has certainly done that.)
This book finds Davenport on the trail of a cunning serial killer who sticks to a carefully thought-out set of rules in an attempt to escape capture (hence the title of the book). The mystery really kept me on my toes, wondering how Lucas would manage to capture this deranged murdered.
John Sandford's Prey series is recommended to fans of Michael Connelly, Robert B. Parker, and anyone who enjoys a good detective novel.
124 of 128 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2001
A few years ago, I asked the owner of a bookstore to recommend some books for me. She said that she had been home sick for the past week and spent the time reading all of the "prey" books. At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about and thought they might have something to do with religion as in "pray" books. After some further discussion, I realized I had stumbled upon a great series by John Sandford. I started to buy the books then and it's taken me this long to finally read the first one. Since I read a lot of mysteries, many of which are part of a series, I'm pretty savvy when it comes to the most popular male protagonists out there at the moment. Now that I've been introduced to Lucas Davenport, my only regret is that I waited this long to begin my relationship with a now favorite character.
The story is a good one and involves a serial killer whose identity is introduced to the reader at the beginning of the book. I like when an author does this as it enables me to get inside the killer's head and follow him around from place to place -- not only to the scene of his crimes but in his everyday life at work and home as well. I also love it when the moment arrives and I realize what the title of the book means. In Rules of Prey, the killer, referred to as "maddog", has certain rules that he follows so as not to get caught. For example, he never kills anyone he knows, he never uses the same weapon twice and he never has a motive. He always leaves a note at each crime scene communicating one of his rules. Not only does this serve as a challenge to our main character, Lucas Davenport, it is also the killer's "in your face" way of letting Lucas know that he is someone to be reckoned with.
As a lead character, Lieutenant Davenport is a dream. He drives around in a Porsche, which was purchased with money he earns not only from gambling but also from a side job he has creating intense, strategic video games. He's smooth, good-looking and a real lady killer (no pun intended). I enjoyed the way he tracked down the clues, which will eventually lead to the killer. He also has no problem working around the "rules" set up by his own police department and I found this flagrant use or "misuse" of his own form of justice a bit ingratiating. But this particular case will prove not to be an easy chase as his sometimes-inept Minneapolis police department is foiled by the "maddog" on more than one occasion.
I understand from other readers that these books just get better and better. That's a real incentive for any mystery reader and is an added bonus just knowing that I get to spend some more quality time with Lucas. This is certainly a series for the ladies as well as the guys. "Shadow Prey" here I come.
62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2002
There's a basic formula at play in most suspense novels or thrillers. It's not hard to figure out the components: one demented killer, one detective, usually above the law with some interesting quirk or hobby that makes him unique, a love interest or two, the hero's haunted past...I think you get the idea. I always wish that some writer somewhere would break out of that formula but very few do successfully. But on occasion, a writer uses that formula to his advantage and just writes a darn good book.
Rules of Prey is the first novel in what has become a rather extensive series featuring Lucas Davenport, part playboy, part rogue cop, part vigilante. And the Davenport character is a good one. Throw in a generic psychopath playing the part of serial killer and you've got a decent but predictable thriller.
Readers of thrillers are familiar with portrayals of the bad guys and usually writers delve deeply into the motivations behind their actions. One strange thing about Rules of Prey is that Sandford does not elaborate on the killer's motivations. While I was curious what was driving him, I must say that I found the lack of childhood flashbacks and psychological ramblings refreshing.
Overall, the story was simple, neat and effective. The writing was good, the characters far more developed than those normally encountered in this genre, the action fast paced and the outcome surprising. I will definitely be continuing this series.
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2002
The Killer calls himself the Maddog. When the urge siezes him, he goes and "collects" a new victim. With each woman he slays, he leaves a note. These notes are the Maddog's "rules".
Every note says something different, such as: Never kill anybody you know; never have a motive; never carry a weapon after it has been used. After two murders and a third attempt, Detective Lucas Davenport joins the case. Lucas isn't like other detectives. Rather its the dozens of women he attracts, the games he invents, or the Porsche he drives, Lucas is something you've never seen before. Lucas Davenpport is out to get this crazed man who hunts these women. Lucas has a strong sense of justice and is cleaver enough to find him. This killer, however, is unlike any he has ever encountered. Because he's not just a killer, he's a player. Lucas will have to have all his wits about him if he plans on apprehending him, alive or dead.
If your looking for a suspensful, fun book, then I suggest John Sandford's masterpeice, Rules Of Prey.
Rules Of Prey Is the first book in John Sandford's extraordinary Prey series
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
John Sandford has written more than a dozen cop-thrillers featuring Lucas Davenport. "Rules Of Prey" was the first and I didn't get to it until I read a half-dozen or so of the later "Prey" titles.
I've never been a fan of police procedurals and still am not. But I am definitely a fan of Lucas Davenport and John Sandford.
Lucas Davenport is an experienced, tough and street-smart Minnesota cop. He begins working for the Minneapolis Police Department, but later switches over to a Minnesota state law enforcement agency.
Davenport is no ordinary cop - but he's no super-hero either. Luck, good and bad, plays a part in Davenport's life. People do die while he tries to put the pieces together and figure out who the murderer is. Bad guys get hurt, good guys get hurt, even Davenport gets hurt.
There is a wonderful grittiness to Sandford's "Prey" novels. They feel real. (Having lived in Minnesota probably helps because Sandford weaves in a lot of Minnesota color.)
In this debut novel, Davenport tracks down a serial killer who has rules: never carry a weapon after it has been used and so on. The killer is smart and devious. But Davenport, without any happy miracles, tracks him down.
Sandford's "Prey" novels are engrossing and Davenport is a magnificent creation.
55 of 64 people found the following review helpful
Lucas Davenport, ace investigator, is on the trail of the latest woman-hunter who savagely kills without leaving a clue. Louis Vullion is a mediocre attorney turned serial killer who loves games as much as Davenport. The two begin a cat-and-mouse chase once Louis fails in his attempts to murder Carla Ruiz.
This is the first Sandford novel I've attempted. After reading so many positive, enthusiastic reviews of the PREY series, I simply had to start at the beginning. Was I disappointed? Not entirely. There are some interesting characters. Carla Ruiz is a rather strong, determined, intelligent woman. Sister Mary Joseph (or Elle Kruger when she grew up with Davenport) was my favorite character overall; she's witty, intelligent, confident and she serves as an anchor and confidante for Davenport. Louis himself is an interesting killer; however, there is no clear motive for his killing. There are some brief mentions of a weak mother, but nothing substantial about Louis is ever fleshed out. Annie McGowan and Jennifer Carey are rival tv reporters sniffing out the hottest story in Minnesota. Then there's Davenport. Intelligent? Yes. Brilliant detective? Perhaps. But he also possesses the scruples of a street hood, beds half the female characters before the story truly begins, and is quite willing to plant evidence or to physically threaten/harm witnesses or suspects. He designs elaborate games which supposedly supplies him with an income allowing him to drive a Porsche, own a wilderness hideaway, a boat, and several collectible firearms. One of his many girlfriends becomes pregnant, and the two share many a glass of wine and bottles of beer throughout the novel. Hmmmm.....
The last 100 pages of this novel redeemed it in my opinion. I was honestly rather bored through the earlier segments, but I appreciated the quicker pace offered more toward the end. Perhaps I've read one too many serial-killer novels, but this one was a bit too predictable for my taste. I know I'll try out at least one more in the series to see if Sandford develops some of these characters (and if Davenport's libido cools off). I'd also like to see if Sandford is able to strengthen the writing and to provide a less predictable story with a more thrilling conclusion. Overall, I give this 3 stars because it was interesting enough to keep me reading. I'll reserve more glowing reviews if the next in the series does better at grabbing my attention from beginning to end.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2001
Lieutenant Lucas Davenport's career is on the line as this book begins. He is under 24 hour surveillance by his own Police department as he is one of a number of murder suspects. When another horrific homicide takes place whilst Davenport is under the eyes of the police he is cleared of any association with the crime. As the best man to head up the investigation he goes from suspect to chief investigator instantly.
It is clear that a serial killer is on the loose in the twin cities. Each victim is left with a "Rule of Prey" note such as "Never kill anyone you know" and "Never have a motive". The random killings give no pattern to the police. The only consistencies are the violently sexual assort on each victim and the fact that each victim is an attractive young lady.
The killer's first serious mistake is to allow one of his potential victims to escape alive. She befriends Davenport who gains a clearer picture of the killer's seemingly insignificant idiosyncrasies as well as physical clues such as his stature and strength.
The friendship develops rapidly as Davenport allows her to use his country holiday home to rest, relax and recuperate from her dance with death. Meanwhile, the media is in a frenzy as the city becomes paranoid waiting for the killer to strike again. Davenport is simultaneously in a relationship with a beautiful TV news journalist. These two women allow Davenport to get inside the head of the killer and, using "leaks" to the media, play him at his own psychological game. It is cat and mouse stuff all the way as the tension builds and the plot thickens. The stakes rise as the book develops with any mistake by the killer surely leading to his downfall, whilst any mistake by Davenport will mean yet another victim.
This is an example of graphic writing, combined with terror and suspense. It is not for the faint hearted. Davenport's hectic love life provides light relief from the main theme of the story but is vital to the plot. This is another excellent book in John Sandford's "Prey" series and well worthy of its four stars.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Rules of Prey is the first in an incredibly long and successful series by author John Sandford. I've read three books in the series, some older, some newer, and the thing that impressed me the most about Rules of Prey was its style. It doesn't read like a first novel. It reads like it could have been written last year. Sandford's talent is evident from the beginning.
Rules of Prey begins with the story being told from the killer's point of view first. Right away, we learn about the sick "maddog" intent on killing women. He has studied murders and from his studies knows how to not get caught. He even leaves clues with each of his victim, printouts saying "rules" of killing like "never have a motive" or "never kill anyone you know." One drawback to the story is that these clues are trademark of the killer, yet they really have nothing to do with the case being solved.
This book also introduces Lucas Davenport, full time cop and part time fantasy game writer. We get to meet a few of the many loves of his life including the reporter who will have his child. Lucas is a womanizer and a rough cop. Sandford gives the details of Lucas being a sometimes over the top cop and details of his childhood friend the nun (I forget her name). Yet Sandford never details why Lucas goes from woman to woman (even while one is carrying his child) or why Lucas is so willing to break the police rules to achieve justice. What happened to Lucas to give him these characteristics. Maybe its covered in other novels.
Even though I complain about the above, it doesn't take away from the greatness of the novel. As in his other novels, the police work and the slow methodical way in which the truth is discovered is realistic and interesting. Nothing comes easy as Lucas tries to stop the maddog before he kills one last time.
I've read a few of the series, not in order, but now I plan on reading from beginning to end. I recommend you do the same if you are interested in the police genre and enjoy the gritty realism of John Sandford.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 1998
This is the first of many John Sandford books I have read. The chapters ping-pong between detective Lucas Davenport and the killers mind. Sometimes you can't tell who's mind you're in! Very suspensefull and it really keeps you interested. I would recommend this book to people who like series books. The prey series in general is all suspensful and thought provoking.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2001
John Sandford's Lucas Davenport, a Minneapolis cop, is pretty much what we've come to expect in this genre, and it's a comfortable fit (as far as old shoes go). He's a rough renegade with the heart of gold, some nerdy hobbies to balance out the tough parts and a flock of women who want him...and a cool car, to boot.
What makes Rules of Prey so different from entries in other detective series is the absolute attention to detail. The process the Minneapolis police use to track the "maddog", a vicious serial killer, is fascinating, as are their fumbles along the way (that have embarrassing results for the department). I can't remember a book that built suspense so successfully, and it's done with an unsensational, subdued style that never cheats the reader or glosses over a scene.
When I finished this novel I thought, "Somebody finally got it just right," and I only hope that the rest of the series can live up to this masterpiece. Fans of crime and mystery novels should do some investigating in Lucas Davenport's Twin Cities.