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Extreme Prey


Extreme Prey

EXTREME PREY is a transitional book in John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport series. Sandford has never been reluctant to uproot Lucas professionally, so his retirement from Minnesota’s BCI at the conclusion of 2015’s GATHERING PREY was somewhat unexpected but not a total surprise. One would not expect to find Lucas unemployed for long, and this latest title provides a vehicle for switching his law enforcement gears and yet again renewing an always fresh and exciting series that has never shown signs of becoming staid or slowing down.

The initial appearance of the jobless but hardly penniless Lucas Davenport in this 26th installment finds him busily involved in the hands-on supervision of an addition to his Wisconsin cabin. This occupies a couple of pages before he receives a summons on behalf of Minnesota governor Elmer Henderson. It’s a surprise given that Henderson is Lucas’ former employer and is busy running for the Democratic nomination for President. The reason is a bit convoluted but nonetheless ultimately convincing. Henderson is running against Michaela Bowden, who is currently leading him in the race for the nomination. Henderson and his people have reason to believe that Bowden may be in danger, based on a couple of incidents and some vaguely worded communications they have received. He wants Lucas to investigate what has occurred to see if there is any threat to Bowden and, if so, to prevent it.

"A couple of old, long-absent friends from this long-running series appear, and the climax...well, save some time to read it over and over."

Henderson’s motives are not worthy, though not entirely altruistic, and the plot line gives Sandford some opportunity to play with the two campaigns as they interact, which is worth the price of admission all by itself. What the reader knows is far more than either Henderson or Lucas know, at least at first. For Henderson, the source of the threats is unknown, other than for a vague but telling description of a “gray-eyed” man. What the reader knows is that the gray-eyed man is Cole Purdy, who is acting at the behest of his mother, Marlys Purdy, who is indeed plotting to kill Bowden. Marlys is one of the few members of a once-active but almost dormant radical left-wing group in Iowa. She is convinced that Bowden’s death will clear the way for the much more radical Henderson to take the nomination and hopefully the presidency.

Lucas does what he does best, investigating door to door while delegating to others the search of cell phone records and the like while attempting to find evidentiary leads and connections. Of course, any number of people are lying to him, and given that those he is questioning are somewhat mentally off anyway, they soon turn on each other, which leads not only to a series of murders but also to the unearthing of a long-unsolved left-wing terrorist incident from the mid-20th century.

Sandford is a master of suspense as he spools out vignettes where Lucas questions someone of interest, who blithely lies to him, while the reader knows what’s going on all along. It doesn’t take much time for Lucas to become a target as well, so he is ducking fire even as he is trying to determine when, where and how the assassins will attempt to murder Bowden. He gets to the “when” and “where” quickly enough, but the “how” becomes a near thing, so that the assassination attempt and its aftermath become something to behold.

EXTREME PREY isn’t my all-time favorite Lucas Davenport book, but it isn’t too far back in the pack, either. A couple of old, long-absent friends from this long-running series appear, and the climax...well, save some time to read it over and over. We also get a hint at what Lucas will be doing for the foreseeable future. While I’m not sure how Sandford will make it work, past accomplishment is the best indicator of future performance, so I’m more than certain that it will be interesting at the very least and mesmerizing at best. If you’ve been away from this series for a while (and I don’t know why you would’ve been), now is the time to jump back on.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on April 29, 2016

Extreme Prey
by John Sandford

  • Publication Date: April 4, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0399573798
  • ISBN-13: 9780399573798