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Field of Prey (A Prey Novel) Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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*Starred Review* A couple of high-school lovers conclude an evening of passion in rural Minnesota by noticing a really bad smell. They inform the local cops, who find an underground cistern filled with God knows how many bodies and body parts. It’s obviously not a job for local cops, so Lucas Davenport and his Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are called in. There are 15 skulls and counting when Lucas arrives. The early forensic examinations reveal the killings have been going on for years. How did someone not notice? Davenport’s usual partners are engaged in other investigations, so he teams up with Catrin Mattsson, a detective with the county sheriff’s office. They seem a mismatched pair at first. She resents his wealth, and he sees her as a bit of a confrontational smart-ass. They wade through a couple of false leads, one supplied by an eight-year-old beauty pageanteer whose parents view the ensuing publicity as a “big break.” There are a couple other investigatory sidebars, but when the killer decides Mattsson should be his next victim, the case escalates quickly. Sandford writes best-sellers more often than most of us take vacations. This is as engaging and thrilling as any of them, even with a subplot that feels unnecessary. But that’s like whining about Willie Mays striking out once while hitting four home runs in a game. As always, Sandford and Lucas are superb. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: You could say “same old, same old,” but in Sandford’s case, you’d mean another top-notch thriller destined for best-seller lists. That’s the good kind of “same old, same old.” --Wes Lukowsky --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Praise for Field of Prey
“One of [Sandford’s] best.”—Huffington Post
“Sandford seems to top himself with each new installment; the latest is no exception to that rule . . . It doesn’t get any better than Field of Prey. . . This is a series you must be reading if you are not already.”—bookreporter.com
“As always, Lucas and Sandford are superb . . . Another top-notch thriller destined for best-seller lists.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Suspenseful . . . Sandford has tricks to play to confound readers before the tension rises and leads to a violent and surprising conclusion.”—Publishers Weekly
Praise for Field of Prey
“One of [Sandford’s] best. His writing and the appeal of his lead character are as fresh as ever. This author is a master writer and he pulls out all the stops to tell the latest adventure...For those who think they know everything they need to know about Lucas Davenport, this book proves them wrong. It also shows that Sanford still has some tricks up his sleeve when it comes to writing totally engrossing books. Sanford has always been at the top of any list of great mystery writers and this latest book shows why…It is one of his best and that makes it something really special.”—Huffington Post
“Consistently brilliant, Sandford shows the methodical steps inherent in such a case, without sacrificing plot, pacing or character.”—Cleveland Plain-Dealer
“As always, Lucas and Sandford are superb...Another top-notch thriller destined for best-seller lists.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Suspenseful...Sandford has tricks to play to confound readers before the tension rises and leads to a violent and surprising conclusion.”—Publishers Weekly --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
However, Sandford has put Lucas through a lot of changes over the years, particularly by domesticating Lucas from the hard-boiled, womanizing young cop to the bureaucratic husband and father. It is this latter version of Lucas that Sandford has presented to readers for a while now, but after reading the latest Prey novel, it made me wish for the Lucas of yesteryear.
There are several problems with the novel. First, the main plot itself is thin--serial killer terrorizes women, and Lucas has to bring him down. Been there, done that with Lucas, and more than once. Sandford employs a schtick with this particular killer that isn't particularly surprising when it is revealed, and just seems forced. As I mentioned above, Sandford has a knack for developing interesting and unpredictable antagonists who aren't simply omniscient, Hannibal Lecter-type evil geniuses, and in a way are more terrifying because of how realistic they are. Yet the killer here is incredibly one-dimensional, and the aforementioned schtick just makes the killer's chapters rather silly.
Further hurting the book's plot is the fact that Sandord throws in nearly half-a-dozen subplots on top of the main plot, four of which are separate criminal investigations involving the rest of his BCA team. The one involving Virgil Flowers is simply a tie-in to Virgil's latest investigation, which I believe is the subject of the latest novel his own spin-off series. The other investigations don't really tie into the main story at all, and while Sandford has employed this tactic before, he has never introduced so many separate crimes in a single novel. None of these side-plots are particularly interesting, and apart from a dramatic moment involving a supporting character these amounted to little more than filler. Also, without giving too much away, Virgil actually ties into the story in more ways than one, and the resolution of the main story is actually moreso due to him than to Davenport's efforts. I like Virgil Flowers as much as the next Sandford fan, but I didn't get this to book to read about him. I wanted to read about Lucas. The tie-ins to Virgil were distracting, and unnecessary.
Davenport really just doesn't do much in this book. A lot of the focus is given to a new character (well, a newish character...I think she may have been introduced in a Virgil Flowers book, though I'm not sure)--police officer Catrin Matsson, who was one of the best parts of the book for me. A lot of focus was also given to Lucas' adopted daughter, Letty, whom I think Sandford still hasn't figured out how to utilize since introducing her in Naked Prey. While Letty was awesome in that book, I've always felt like Letty was either a non-presence or a distraction since then, with the exception of Stolen Prey. As other reviews mentioned, Letty just randomly inserts herself into the investigation in this book, and Lucas--nor anyone else--seems to have no problem with this whatsoever, even though she's only 18. It really took away from the believability factor for me, and the way Sandford ultimately deals with Letty at the end of the book comes across as if he's just getting rid of her so he doesn't have to worry about her anymore.
I kept wishing for the Prey books that covered the period from when Lucas met Weather and rejoined the Minneapolis PD to when he finally married Weather--from around Winter Prey to Mortal Prey, I think. Those are my favorite books in the series, featuring great moments from Lucas and the supporting cast and awesome villains. Unfortunately, almost none of those are to be found in this book. I almost got the sense that Sandford was bored writing about Lucas, as if he couldn't wait to get back to Virgil, or perhaps write a spin-off series about Letty or Matsson.
I hope that's not the case, because I would love to see Lucas Davenport back on his A-game. Here, we get about a C or D game. Still entertaining, but one of the weakest entries in the series.
I’ll cite three flaws (Spoiler alert). Very early on, a little girl reports seeing a local postman near the scene of a crime. It doesn’t take Lucas long to figure out that wasn’t who she saw but rather someone who resembled him. The correct course should be evident. He’s dealing with a couple towns that contain maybe a few hundred families. Just take the photo of the postman around to shops, banks, etc. and ask who looks like him. But, this doesn’t occur to Lucas until the closing pages of the book, Sandwiched between those two events is a lot of filler.
And that’s the second issue. Lucas is distracted by cases that Del is working on in Texas and Virgil is investigating downstate. The digressions have nothing to do with the plot and appear to be boring filler to bloat this up to novel length.
Finally, there are a few things that just ring silly in the real world. For instance, a local policewoman, who obviously has personality issues through the book, is captured by the perpetrator, imprisoned and repeatedly raped and savagely beaten. Upon being liberated, she bashes his brains out with a crowbar after he’s been subdued. So, you have someone who had issues going into this case, failed to contribute much to the investigation, got herself captured, was traumatized beyond belief and kills a helpless suspect (not proven but it was evident). What does BCS do? Offer her a job! Every law enforcement unit I’ve had contact with uses psychological screening, with good reason. Apparently, it’s a concept beyond the grasp of BCS.
Much of the Prey series gives you an intellectual and emotional workout. This is simply chewing gum for the mind.
One thing that Sandford does well is to make the horrific seem "business as usual" for Lucas and his partners. The contrast of the midwestern charm of Minnesota and the vile crimes is part of what makes these novels work - the "banality of evil" theme is ever-present.
So if you are a long-time fan of Sandford, this one will work for you. If you're new to his work, go back and read "Rules of Prey" and move on from there. You'll be glad you did.