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Ocean Prey: A Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers Novel

Review

Ocean Prey: A Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers Novel

OCEAN PREY is something special. It brings Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers --- the mainstays of John Sandford’s most popular series --- together again in one of his most complex tales, dealing with an investigation fraught with danger for both men.

The book is set primarily in the south Florida area where the drug industry continues to thrive thanks to the state's proximity to Caribbean and South American drug exports. It opens with a violent vignette in which a Coast Guard vessel attempting to inspect a suspicious boat is fired upon, resulting in the deaths of three Coast Guard officers. The boat was in the process of picking up a major drug drop, which had to be abandoned when it fled the scene.

"OCEAN PREY is something special. It brings Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers...together again in one of [John Sandford's] most complex tales, dealing with an investigation fraught with danger for both men."

Lucas Davenport of the U.S. Marshal Service is brought into a multiple agency task force that intends to use the drugs, which are somewhere in a very broad area of the Atlantic, as bait to bring the smugglers to justice and put a significant dent in the east coast drug trade. Most of the first half of OCEAN PREY is involved with Davenport’s activities. He is nothing if not hands-on, and it is a trait that exposes him --- and his task force partners --- to a level of danger that he rarely encounters.

When a stakeout accomplishes its goals but ends in tragedy, Davenport calls in Virgil Flowers, his former colleague at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Flowers has a particular skill set that makes him an especially useful asset in this investigation. He and another associate from the Davenport canon are able to get hired onto the drug smugglers’ crew as they try to recover their lost contraband. It is a role that seems ideally suited for Flowers, given his penchant for being somewhat of a wild card despite his law enforcement persona.

OCEAN PREY is a vehicle for an examination of the similarities and differences between Davenport and Flowers. While Flowers is more interested in apprehension whenever possible, Davenport is inclined to use deadly force in cases where the crime and the criminal are especially heinous. He also believes that he can get away with saving the judicial system the expense of a trial. In addition, Sandford explores the Federal interagency jurisdictional disputes while comparing the ways in which they do their jobs (and don’t), wrapping it all into a tale that concludes with a series of chain reactions, coupled with an ironic and mostly satisfying aftermath.

Flowers and Davenport have occasionally made cameo appearances in each other's series, but OCEAN PREY marks the first time in quite a while that the two stalwart law enforcement officers have interacted in this fashion and with a (roughly) equal division of labor. Hopefully it will not be the last.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on April 16, 2021

Ocean Prey: A Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers Novel
by John Sandford

  • Publication Date: April 13, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 059308702X
  • ISBN-13: 9780593087022