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Winter Prey Paperback – November 3, 2009

315 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of four previous mystery thrillers starring Lucas Davenport ( Rules of Prey , etc.) evokes with precision and clarity two disparate, but equally unsettling types of harshness: the raw power of nature and the pitilessness of certain human beings. In a rural area of northern Wisconsin, a family of three is savagely wiped out by the Iceman, who then torches their house. In pursuit of a damaging photograph--a snapshot of him in a sexual situation with a local boy--this fiend puts no value on human life. Enter Davenport, the laconic, slightly cynical ex-cop from Minneapolis, who uncovers several disturbing truths before determining the Iceman's identity. The wintry climate is practically palpable here; numbing cold and blizzards prove as threatening as the Iceman's malevolence. Despite its chilling moments (literally and figuratively), this forceful narrative is tempered with an unexpected humanity, as evidenced primarily in the mature, slowly blossoming romance between Davenport and a local doctor. The moments of tenderness and humor shared by the rugged detective and this worldlywise Mother Earth figure stand in vigorous counterpoint to the surrounding events. Sandford casts a keen eye, too, on small-town life: he knows that everyone's peccadillos are grist for the rumor mill, and that secrets can quickly sour. A compelling vitality suffuses this novel, arguably the finest in a sterling quintet.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Vastly entertaining fifth entry in Sandford's popular Prey series (Silent Prey, 1992, etc.). This time, ex-cop and master- gamesman Lucas Davenport takes on a crazed killer ravaging a small Wisconsin town. The killer, who calls himself ``the Iceman'' for his sang- froid, debuts in the creepy opening pages by stalking an isolated house, gunning down the woman inside, chopping up her husband, and torturing their daughter--all in a failed attempt to retrieve an incriminating photo that's fallen into the victims' hands. It's a gruesome start, but Sandford splatters the gore mostly off-page, relying on suspense--and there's plenty of it--to jangle readers' nerves. When the bodies are found, the local sheriff calls in Davenport to help. Arriving in town, Davenport, who's at loose ends in his life, finds himself facing two enemies: the Iceman, but also record cold and snow that's frozen the town into a death-trap. His investigation--which hinges on retrieving the photo before the Iceman does--stalls in the face of challenging puzzles centering on time-of-death and a seemingly reluctant witness, but it also butts him up against some marvelous characters, including a female M.D. with whom he falls eagerly in love. Meanwhile, the Iceman slays anyone who might know about the photo--which, it turns out, shows him having sex with a local boy, his first victim: The Iceman heads a child-porn ring. When Davenport--who's been revitalized by the case--at last recovers the photo, the Iceman's surprising identity is revealed, leading to a furious climactic chase on snowmobiles through dark woods and howling wind--and to Davenport and the Iceman each having a tˆte-…-tˆte with death. Crackling action, a clever mystery, and characters who breathe make this great fun: one of the best Preys yet and a must for thriller fans. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Prey (Book 5)
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reissue edition (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425231062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425231067
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (315 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,390 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

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 20, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
John Sandford's first 4 novels were certainly varied and assured enough to distinguish themselves as worthy entries in their genre. Yet, as interesting as the villians in those pieces were, the plots didn't have a lot of momentum to them, mostly because Sandford gave the reader too much information ahead of his lead character, Lucas Davenport. So, instead of keeping us on the edge of our seats, we basically waited for Davenport to discover what we already knew, diluting the immediacy and urgency of the plot.
Luckily, with WINTER PREY, Sandford has changed his structure to the better, creating a nerve-frying tale of terror that ranks with the finest of the decade. The eerie snowbound locations lend plenty of isolated, creepy texture to the plot, while Sandford brilliantly elicits a disturbing, menacing atmosphere that puts us right into the story, giving us ingenious clues and surprise plot revelations to keep us glued to the pages all night long. Lucas Davenport emerges as a fully realized individual, while the supporting characters are first-rate, as are the action scenes and forensic details. A masterpiece.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By David B. Erickson on December 21, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lucas Davenport ain't never going to be Harry Bosch, but he's a good enough morally ambivalent character that you care about what he does and why he does it. Of the Prey series, this is a standout for its plot about ugly sexual behavior in the sticks and for its detailed evocation of Minnesota in the dead (no pun intended) of winter. Mystery aficionados already know this book, and they'll tell you that another great thing about it is that Sandford plays fair with the plot. Things get strange, but there's a logical thread throughout. Superior reading for long-distance air travel.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Chris MB on September 17, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lucas Davenport is back and better than ever. With Winter Prey, Sandford relocates Davenport yet again, this time to the frozen countryside of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Sandford's last Prey novel, Silent Prey, tried something similar, moving Davenport to NYC but it was, unfortunately, not at all successful. Luckily Winter Prey proves to be a much better installment in the series.
Much of the action and plot of the book follows Sandford's "prey format" and Sandford doesn't disappoint in Winter Prey. Quite a bit of the appeal in these stories is derived from the evolving back-story and the development of Davenport. And while Winter Prey largely ignored recurring characters seen in previous novels, Sandford's characters were likable and I can only hope that some of them return.
Overall, if you felt burned by Silent Prey, you'll feel much better after Winter Prey. A real page-turner.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Louise on June 4, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lucas Davenport is feeling the ice-cold winter in this book in the prey-series. A horrible killer is on the loose, and contrary to many Davnport novels, the reader does not initially know who the killer is. But we are inside his mind all the time, we are inside his house, we listen to his talk, his thoughts and his 'family's' thoughts. And those are chilling thoughts. We know that the killer wants to kill Weather, the small-town doctor, who will later become Davenports girlfriend. The town's sheriff is trying to help as good as he can, but has issues on his own, specially after the town priest become suspect number one. All the evidence points this way, and it is now up to Daenport to sort through what is right and what is wrong.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Davie on July 2, 2014
Format: Paperback
Fifth in the Lucas Davenport thriller series revolving around an ex-cop who misses the action. This story takes place in Grant, in northern Wisconsin, in the depths of winter.

My Take
Man, another good one from Sandford. It’s terrifying how easy it is for someone like the Iceman to exist within a community, to abuse and murder people without being caught. It’s such a small community that I bet every person could name off every other citizen in the area. And yet, the Iceman hides within it.

I’d sure hate to be a fireman or policeman in a cold climate, and Sandford did a great job of making me feel the cold as they attempted to work the scene. I like Climpt. I hope he shows up again in the series. I loved the way he reasoned out why Harper’s “suicide” was really murder. It made so much sense. That bit with the priest demonstrates why it’s practical to bring in someone from outside.

I’ve been reading enough books that I’m definitely getting the picture on self-defense and guns, if you own a gun, plan to use a gun: go to the range, practice, make it an instinctive reaction. Or, heck, if that’s all too much trouble, then plan to die. Then there’s all the gossip running through town. Another lesson for all cops. Do NOT talk out of school. The Iceman’s experience in school --- on both sides of the bullying fence --- are reason enough for teachers and principals to do what they can to stop this behavior. Can you imagine how many lives would have been saved if someone had stopped this behavior early on?

Jesus, the way she’s thinking and talking, Ginny’s been having sex for some time. And she just turned fourteen. Parental licensing!!!
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