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Hidden Prey Hardcover – May 11, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Det. Lucas Davenport has battled some real demons over the past 15 Prey novels and drifted in and out of lust and love with a host of women. But now he's happily married to the lovely Weather; has a nine-month-old son, Sam; and takes care of his 12-year-old ward, Letty West. Sure, he's got a measure of the old angst, but he's growing accustomed to the good life, spending quality time alone on the couch drinking beer and watching TV golf. His new job is running the Office of Regional Research at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension where he looks into various crimes and "fixes shit" for the governor. So when a dead Russian shows up on the docks in Duluth, Lucas is assigned to shepherd the lady investigator, Nadya Kalin, being sent by the Russian government. From the very first pages, the reader knows it's teenager Carl Walther who has killed the Russian. What makes the book intriguing is the manner in which the sagacious Davenport goes about uncovering the rest of the co-conspirators-a gang of Minnesota-based Communist spies headed by Carl's grandpa, 92-year-old ex-KGB colonel Burt Walther. That Sandford makes this unlikely plot believable is a mark of his mastery of the technical aspects of the mystery form and a testament to his overall writing skills. Readers will be pleased with this relaxed version of the moody Minneapolis investigator. In past novels, the womanizing Davenport would have romanced the good-looking Russian lady, but the new Davenport is content to play the part of friend and protector and go back to his cozy family with an unstained and remarkably contented soul.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A Russian sailor is the victim of a professional assassination on the docks of Duluth. Wary of international implications, the governor of Minnesota asks Lucas Davenport, the chief investigator for the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, to investigate. Major Nadezhda Kalin, a representative of Russian law enforcement, assists Davenport. The murder may be linked to the remnants of a dormant Soviet Union network established between the world wars but forgotten by the motherland. The descendants of the original network members have all melded into the American mainstream. Davenport and Kalin pursue the case through the rural mining towns of northern Minnesota even as they become the targets of the shadowy assassin. The sixteenth Prey novel is less harrowing and not as dark as many of its predecessors. It's also more humorous--even the suicide of a key character is accompanied by a sly, graveyard one-liner--with deft Davenport observations on the curious behavior of the opposite sex in general and on Russian women in particular. Similarities to previous Prey thrillers: high entertainment value; deftly rendered characterizations; and clever, believable dialogue. Expect another best-seller and stock up accordingly. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
It starts with a drunken female tramp named Trey, in Duluth, Minnesota, who is shot at by a young man. The shot missed, and she ran. He followed her, shot at her again, but the gun was out of ammo.
She pulled out a switchblade knife, and went after him, and slashed his arm.
He backed away, saying that he would come back and get her, then walked away, into the darkness, and disappeared.
The novel ends, with Lucas Davenport and Lt. Colonel Nadya Kalin, of the Russian Intelligence Service, catching an undercover ring of Russian spies, that was obtaining American secrets for transmission, through the Russian Embassy, to Russia.
Despite a few detrimental aspects, such as extended descriptions of meaningless activities and events, this is still an exciting novel to read.
So, in this book, we find Lucas happily married to Weather and living in their “Big New House” with their new baby boy named Sam, and a state ward, whom we met in Sandford’s previous book, Naked Prey, named Letty West, a very precocious twelve year old little girl. Although she was a major player in Naked Prey, she is barely even mentioned in this one, but I’m sure Sandford is keeping her on for a future edition.
A Russian is murdered in a remote part of northern Minnesota near Lake Superior. A street woman named Trey is a witness to the murder. The murderer chases her and is about to kill her, but his gun jams. When he leaves, she goes to the dead man and finds $50,000 on him, which she takes. A week or so later, the murderer sees a woman whom he is convinced was the street woman, Trey. So he follows her and kills her by nearly decapitating her with a sharp wire. But it wasn’t Trey!
Turns out the dead man was a Russian and had very high Russian connections, so a Russian “cop” flies in from Moscow and Lucas flies up from Minneapolis. The FBI becomes involved as do the local police and lots of reporters. Not a whole lot is learned from the initial investigations, despite the high level of investigative power, but we readers soon know the shooter is young Carl Walther, grandson of Grandpa Walther, a communist spy who, during the war, committed some serious acts of atrocity, and who has been running a ring of families engaged in Russian “assistance” in northern Minnesota since the war ended. A fearless assassin in his own right, he is handing down his expertise to his grandson Carl, which includes random executions. So while there’s no doubt who is behind these murders, the clues Lucas and others pursue to uncover the spy ring and the murderer keep the story moving at a reasonable pace, although at one point I felt I had enough of ‘assumptions’.
And although Trey, the bag lady who had witnessed the first murder, played a minor role in the story, her initial exposure in the story was extremely well written, so it was a little disappointing that her involvement was very limited in solving the case, but in the end she was able to provide incontrovertible proof as to the killer.
The old Russian spy ring story just didn't resonate with me.
Furthermore, the relation with the Russian aid was just superficial. Lucas - who is typically a womanizer - does not feel anything towards this Russian woman, yet feels jealous when she has an affair with another cop. Why on earth would you be jealous?
Anyways, this small hiccup didn't stop me from reading other Prey books.
I lived in Minnesota from the '43 to '67 and heard some stories that lead me to believe the basis of this book. There probably were some Russian families established during WWII as long-term spies for Russia.
The relationship between Nadya and Lucas is cute and makes the time pass quicker than it otherwise would. If this book were isolated from the other "Prey" books it would get a low mark. Sandford works through the lineage of Russian families in Minnesota in an arduous manner. But it fills a spot in the overall story of Lucas Davenport and provides some light entertainment. Four stars may be stretching it a bit.