Sandford does not write the same thriller over and over, merely varying the scenery. No, while Secret Prey starts with the usual bang, it then just ambles through seemingly disconnected bits--a new twist. Sandford's masterful plotting is only revealed as finally a prime suspect emerges from frustratingly patient police interrogation and backgrounding. Then, bang, we're running again to somehow trap the long secret perpetrator. What's creepy is the ramifying evil, which here oozes from dusty records and memories of old cases, unpredictably revealing shocking new lights on one innocuous event after another, without foreboding. Wonderful!
I don't think this is necessarily "by far the best Prey" (AP), for the previous two grabbed me faster and deeper initially, and the endless active snow of Winter Prey still earlier keeps popping back into mind. This story is not the usual heart-pounding chase around Minneapolis, if that is what you seek, but instead evokes new aspects and psychological facets of several familiar team characters: depression, laughter, injury, love. Sandford constructs psychologically coherent characters and plot development, including progressively unhinged villains, while retaining faith in goodness and cops. As always, some events and dialogue mean more if you've read the previous novels. (The peek-thru covers on recent novels are either misaligned or pointless, but cannot detract from the excellence within.)