Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on March 16, 2019
TWISTED PREY (A PREY NOVEL BOOK 28) BY JOHN SANDFORD
MY REVIEW FIVE STARS*****

I JUST FINISHED READING TWISTED PREY THAT WAS RELEASED LAST YEAR. IT OCCURRED TO ME THAT I HAD PRE-ORDERED NEON PREY (2019) AND THAT IT WOULD BE ON MY KINDLE NEXT MONTH. I WAS FALLING BEHIND ON ONE OF MY TOP 5 AUTHORS AND THE EXPLOITS OF US MARSHAL LUCAS DAVENPORT!!!

LUCAS IS A HUNTER WHO RELENTLESSLY AND RUTHLESSLY STALKS HIS PREY, AND THE READER BREATHLESSLY ANTICIPATES AND RELISHES THE MOMENT OF THE KILL. WE ARE ACCUSTOMED TO THE EXCITEMENT OF THE HUNT AND VICARIOUSLY ENJOY DAVENPORT'S FLASHES OF INSIGHT AND BRILLIANT STALKING STRATEGIES. THE THRILL OF THE CHASE IS PRESENT IN EVERY "PREY" NOVEL AND WE SIGH WITH SATISFACTION WHEN DAVENPORT INVARIABLY PREVAILS. BUT FAITHFUL FANS OF THE SERIES WILL KNOW THAT THE SCORECARD REALLY READS 25-0-3 [W-L-D]. LUCAS ROUTINELY MATCHES WITS WITH SERIAL KILLERS AND STONE COLD SOCIOPATHS BUT ONCE IN A GREAT WHILE THERE IS A "DRAW". IN ANY SPORT A "DRAW" TYPICALLY RESULTS IN A "REMATCH" TO DETERMINE THE VICTOR. IN CRIMINAL APPREHENSION IT TRANSLATES TO LUCAS GETTING A SECOND CHANCE TO HUNT DOWN AND CAPTURE THE ELUSIVE PREY WHO SOMEHOW ELUDED AND BESTED HIM ON THEIR INITIAL ENCOUNTER.

IF YOU LOVE LUCAS DAVENPORT, AND YOU HAVE READ ALL OF THE PREY NOVELS OVER THE YEARS, THEN YOU KNOW THAT SANDFORD ONLY RARELY PENS A CLIFFHANGER WITH "THE PREY" WALKING AWAY UNSCATHED. I WON'T GO ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE BEGINNING OF THE SERIES FOR THE DELUSIONAL, DRUGGED OUT, YET BRILLIANT AND CHILLING DR. BEKKER (EYES OF PREY, SILENT PREY). BUT THE PROFESSIONAL HIT WOMAN CLARA RINKER IN CERTAIN PREY [1999] "CERTAINLY" CAPTURED THE IMAGINATION OF SANDFORD'S READERS IN A BIG WAY. SHE WAS IN A SENSE AN ANTI-HERO AND I BREATHED A SIGH OF RELIEF WHEN THE SOFT SPOKEN SOUTHERN GAL WITH A GUN ELUDED CAPTURE AT THE END OF THE NOVEL. IT WAS A FEW YEARS BEFORE THE AUTHOR BROUGHT HER AND LUCAS BACK TOGETHER ON THE SAME TRAJECTORY FOR A THRILLING REMATCH IN MORTAL PREY [2002]. IN THIS NOVEL [TWISTED PREY] THE AUTHOR GIVES A NOD TO CERTAIN PREY [“DID I EVER TELL YOU ABOUT THE TIME I DANCED WITH A PROFESSIONAL ASSASSIN IN WICHITA? NO? HER NAME WAS CLARA RINKER . . .”]

IT WASN'T UNTIL SILKEN PREY [2013] THAT DAVENPORT WAS DESTINED TO MATCH WITS WITH THE STONE COLD SOCIOPATH TARYN GRANT. NO ANTI-HERO HERE, JUST "IM-PURE" VILLAIN. THE STUNNING LONG-LEGGED BLOND WAS AS BRILLIANT AS SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, NOT TO MENTION RICH IN CAPITAL LETTERS, AS IN BILLIONAIRE. POWER WAS HER DRUG OF CHOICE AND GRANT COULD TEACH A CLASS IN MANIPULATION TO MACHIAVELLI HIMSELF. SET AGAINST A BACKDROP OF WASHINGTON POLITICS THE BOOK WAS SEDUCTIVE AND ADDICTIVE LIKE WATCHING A HIGH STAKES CHESS MATCH BETWEEN TWO GRAND MASTERS OF THE GAME. I LOVED IT AND I WONDERED ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF LUCAS GETTING A SECOND CHANCE TO CATCH THIS SEXY SOCIOPATH IN SILK. IT WOULD BE FIVE YEARS DOWN THE ROAD, BUT THE AUTHOR RELEASED THIS LONG AWAITED REMATCH WITH TWISTED PREY [2018].

READERS MAY RECALL THAT LUCAS WAS WITH THE MINNESOTA BUREAU OF CRIMINAL APPREHENSION IN SILKEN PREY. HE WAS ASKED BY DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR HENDERSON TO INVESTIGATE THE CHAOS AND WRONG DOING THAT WAS SWIRLING AROUND INCUMBENT REPUBLICAN SENATOR PORTER SMALLS. THE MAN HAD BEEN THE VICTIM OF AN OBVIOUS "HIT JOB" WHICH WAS ORCHESTRATED TO DESTROY HIS CHANCES IN A RACE TO RETAIN HIS SEAT IN THE U.S. SENATE. THE DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION WAS THE GORGEOUS TARYN GRANT. SHE WAS A STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL BILLIONAIRE HEIRESS, BRILLIANT, AND ADDICTED TO POWER. SHE HAD SABOTAGED HIS CHANCES BY PLANTING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY ON HIS COMPUTER HOPING TO INFLICT ENOUGH DAMAGE TO DESTROY HIS REPUTATION AND MOREOVER HIS CHANCES WITH THE VOTERS. GRANT'S IDENTITY AS THE PUPPETMASTER BEHIND SUCH ILLEGAL AND UNDERHANDED TACTICS MIGHT HAVE BEEN SUSPECTED BUT LUCAS QUICKLY LEARNED THAT PROVING HER INVOLVEMENT WAS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PROPOSITION. GRANT HAD DEMONSTRATED THAT SHE WOULD USE ANY MEANS NECESSARY TO DEFEAT SMALLS AND TO WIN HER BID FOR THE SEAT IN THE U.S. SENATE. HER INSATIABLE APPETITE FOR POWER AND POLITICAL INFLUENCE WAS BOUNDLESS WITH MURDER AND MAYHEM ALWAYS JUST A HEARTBEAT AWAY.

THE READER OBSERVED GRANT'S POWERS AT MANIPULATION AND HER UTTER BRILLIANCE IN KEEPING HERSELF AT ARM'S LENGTH FROM THE BLOODSHED AND THE MELEE. IT WAS NOT ALL THAT SURPRISING WHEN LUCAS ULTIMATELY FACED A STALEMATE IN HIS MATCH AGAINST THE EVIL AND CUNNING TARYN GRANT.

THE END OF THE BOOK FEATURED AN EMBITTERED PORTER SMALLS WHO CALLED OUT TARYN GRANT FOR HER INVOLVMENT, NAMELY HIS OWN VICTIMIZATION AT HER HANDS, ONE OF THE MOST BRUTAL CHARACTER ASSASSINATIONS ON RECORD. BUT HE ACCUSED GRANT OF NOT ONLY BEING THE SPONSOR OF THE CHILD-PORN SMEAR CAMPAIGN, BUT ALSO A MURDERER RESPONSIBLE FOR HAVING THE BLOOD OF AT LEAST THREE PEOPLE ON HER HANDS. LASTLY HE MADE THE OBSERVATION THAT SHE WAS A PSYCHOPATH THAT DIDN'T HAVE ANY BUSINESS BELONGING IN A SEAT ON THE U.S. SENATE. SMALLS PROMISED THAT HE WOULD MAKE ALL THE NOISE HE COULD FOR THE ENTIRE SIX YEARS OF HER APPOINTMENT, AND DO ANYTHING HE COULD TO RUIN HER POLITICAL CAREER AND ANY FUTURE IN POLITICS.

LUCAS SEIZES A MOMENT TO TELL TARYN TO HER FACE THAT HE KNOWS ["I KNOW G--DAMN WELL THAT YOU WERE INVOLVED."] HE MARVELS AT HER COLDNESS AND WHEN GRANT REMAINED SILENT, ONLY SMILING AT HIM WITH "ONE LONG ARM STRETCHED OUT ALONG THE TOP OF THE COUCH, A NEW GOLD CHAIN GLOWING FROM HER NECK", DAVENPORT REFLECTS TO HIMSELF "IF A JURY HAD SEEN THAT SMILE, THEY WOULD HAVE CONVICTED HER: IT WAS BOTH A DELIBERATE CONFESSION AND A SMILE OF TRIUMPH."

IN THE REMATCH TWISTED PREY SEVERAL YEARS HAVE PASSED WITH GRANT NEARING THE END OF HER SIX-YEAR SENATE STINT AND LOOKING LONGINGLY AT THE PROSPECT OF A RUN AT THE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES. HOWEVER, PORTER SMALLS HAS CONTINUED TO BE A THORN IN HER SIDE AND SHE REACTS ACCORDINGLY WITH ARRANGING HIS ASSASSINATION. BUT AS WE ALL KNOW, THE BEST LAID PLANS... SENATOR GRANT IS A MEMBER OF THE SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE AND HAS MANAGED TO MAKE SOME LETHAL TIES. THE STONE COLD AMBITION-DRIVEN SOCIOPATH WE MET BEFORE HAS THE SAME M.O. AND STILL OPERATES AS A SKILLFUL PUPPET MASTER, MANIPULATING SOME VERY DANGEROUS CHARACTERS BUT KEEPING THEM AT ARMS LENGTH TO PROTECT HERSELF AND TO MAINTAIN A LEVEL OF SEPARATION.

LUCAS, NOW A U.S. MARSHAL, IS ACTUALLY CALLED IN BY PORTER SMALLS HIMSELF, HAVING SURVIVED THE NEARLY FATAL ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT IN WHICH THE WOMAN HE LOVED WAS KILLED. THIS IS A TIGHTLY-PLOTTED SUSPENSEFUL NOVEL, AND IT WAS FAST-PACED BUT LARGELY BECAUSE I WAS RABIDLY TURNING PAGES TO SEE WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT. THIS NOVEL IS A REAL TREAT FOR READERS WHO ENJOY MULTI-LAYERED LEVELS OF INVESTIGATION. LUCAS AND HIS COHORTS ARE SMART, RESOURCEFUL, AND INTUITIVE. BUT TRAPPING GRANT IS LIKE PEELING BACK LAYERS OF AN ONION TRYING TO GET TO THE CENTER. READERS WHO ENJOY POLICE PROCEDURALS WILL UNDERSTAND THE FRUSTRATION OF GETTING ONE PLAYER OF THE PLOT "PEELED AWAY" TO BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION, I.E., TO OFFER HIM IMMUNITY FOR HIS TESTIMONY AGAINST BIGGER FISH IN THE CONSPIRACY. IT IS NOT MY DESIRE TO RECAP THE PLOT (AND CERTAINLY NOT TO GIVE AWAY ANY SPOILERS). GRANT SITS AT THE CORE OF A CONSPIRACY OF HARD-CORE MEN WHO ARE CAPABLE OF ALMOST ANYTHING, AND MURDER WITHOUT QUALMS.

THERE ARE A FEW EXCITING DIFFERENCES IN THIS SUSPENSFUL REMATCH, THOUGH. GRANT GETS HER HANDS DIRTY. I WILL SAY NO MORE ON THAT. ALSO THERE ARE SOME INTERESTING TWISTS TO THE STORYLINE NOT TO MENTION MORE ACTION AND SHOOTING THAN I EVER ANTICIPATED. THE CLIMAX OF THE NOVEL, I'LL BE HONEST, I LOVED IT, BUT I MUST ADMIT THAT I DID ANTICIPATE IT PRETTY EARLY ON IN THE NOVEL. BUT ANTICIPATION IS SWEET, AND CAN BE QUITE SATISFYING (AND IT WAS ALL OF THAT).

ONE OF THE THINGS I REALLY ENJOYED ABOUT TWISTED PREY WAS THAT IT REMINDED ME THAT THE PREY SERIES INCLUDES SOME TRULY FASCINATING AND AMAZING SUPPORTING CAST MEMBERS. THE READER HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEE WHAT'S UP WITH DAVENPORT'S INDELIBLE LONG-TIME SIDEKICK DEL CAPSLOCK. VIRGIL FLOWERS MADE A CAMEO OF COURSE, AND SEEING THE BRAVE CATRIN MATSSON FROM ONE OF MY VERY FAVORITE INSTALLMENTS [FIELD OF PREY] IS ALWAYS A TREAT. LUCAS'S DAUGHTER LETTY IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE ADDITIONS TO THE SERIES. LETTY WAS WAS PRESENT JUST LONG ENOUGH TO FLIRT WITH VIRGIL, AND TO HAVE LUCAS'S REFLECTIONS ABOUT HER PERHAPS TICKLE THE IMAGINATION OF SOME NEW READERS. PARTICULARLY FOR THIS NOVEL, I WAS THRILLED THAT KIDD GOT TO PLAY A PART IN THE INVESTIGATION, ALBEIT HE WAS FEATURED MORE PROMINENTLY IN DAVENPORT'S FIRST MATCH UP AGAINST THE DEVIOUS SOCIOPATHIC GRANT. THE INTERESTING "GOOD GUYS" THAT POPULATE LUCAS'S UNIVERSE HAVE NATURALLY EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS. I AM QUITE FOND OF RAE AND BOB FOR INSTANCE, ABOUT AS COLORFUL US MARSHALS WE COULD EVER MEET.

JOHN SANDFORD IS IN MY PERSONAL PANTHEON OF GREAT WRITERS OF CRIME SUSPENSE NOVELS, ALONG WITH MICHAEL CONNELLY, LEE CHILD, KARIN SLAUGHTER, AND LAWRENCE SANDERS.

YOU CAN'T GO WRONG WITH READING THIS INSIGHTFUL, GRIPPING, AND UNFORGETTABLE INSTALLMENT OF THE PREY SERIES. I WOULD PROBABLY READ SILKEN PREY FIRST IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY READ IT. YOU WOULD GET THE FEEL FOR THE SECOND GO AROUND WITH LUCAS, A PREDATOR WHO HAS NO QUIT IN HIM, AND A SINISTER PSYCHOPATH WHO LUCAS KNOWS COVERS HER TRACKS OH, SO WELL...
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