Broken Prey Hardcover – May 10 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Sandford sends series hero Lucas Davenport's family off to London to ensure that domestic concerns never slow the action in this sexy, bloody thriller. Davenport, a Minnesota State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator, had lately been doing political fix-it jobs for the governor, but this time he's got a psychopathic serial killer on his hands. ("All major metro areas had them, sometimes two and three at a time. The public had the impression that they were rare. They weren't.") The first victim, a young woman, was "scourged" with a wire whip; number two, a young man, had his penis cut off. Evidence first points to recently released sex offender Charlie Pope. Though Charlie is pretty dumb and the killer is extremely smart, it takes Davenport and his series partner, Detective Sloan, a while to realize they're chasing the wrong guy. Sandford introduces some lighter moments, the most entertaining about Davenport's new iPod and his quest to compile a list of the 100 best rock songs ever recorded, which every cop on the force gives him suggestions for. These moments allow readers to catch their breath amid the otherwise nonstop tension as the killer taunts the authorities while snaring more victims, and the cops race around the countryside always just a few minutes too late. For those who thought Davenport (and Sandford) were slowing down and showing signs of age and prosperity, this superlative entry will dispel all such notions. This is tough, unstoppable, white-knuckle fiction.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* The first victim is a young woman, probably flayed alive and raped. Lucas Davenport, head of Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is assigned to the case by his boss, the governor, who fears political fallout if a serial killer is on the loose. A tip puts Davenport and his team on the trail of a recently paroled sexual offender. Charley Pope never killed anyone, but conventional wisdom indicates his rage may escalate. But the planning that went into the crimes seems to exceed Charley's capabilities. Lucas also entertains the possibility that Charley was a "robot" for three Hannibal Lecter types in the asylum's high-security section for the criminally insane. The seventeenth Prey thriller is a cut above recent entries in the series. For one, it's a real whodunit, with the killer not revealed until the last couple chapters. Second, it contains supersized servings of all the elements readers have come to treasure in the series: Davenport's quirky, self-deprecating, and ironic worldview; plenty of graveyard humor; and a dynamic sense of place, from the Minnesota countryside to bustling Minneapolis to the foreboding gothic architecture of the asylum. An extra treat is Davenport's ongoing mental gyrations as he compiles a list of rock's 100 greatest tunes for his new I-pod. His musical critiques are pure rock fan, and the final list is a hoot. Byzantine plot, memorable characters, and a subliminal soundtrack of classic rock 'n' roll. What's not to like? Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is part suspense, part thriller, and part police procedural. The story moved at a perfect pace, and had some great red herrings. There are lots of serial killer books out there, but Sandford has managed to take a much-used premise and create a totally original novel.
Lucas was a bit less domestic in this book (perhaps because his wife, Weather, was out of town?), which I loved. He's the cool, tough guy who is witty and committed to righting wrongs, no matter what. The supporting cast of characters, both new and old favourites of the series, were top notch.
A fun subplot is Lucas' quest to come up with a list of the top 100 songs from the rock era. He got an iPod as a birthday gift, and a certificate for 100 song downloads. In some very amusing scenes, he gets lots of input from those around him. At the back of the book, there is - you guessed it - the list of Lucas' chosen 100 songs.
Sandford took not shortcuts with this one. The characters, storyline, pacing and writing style make this a must read and one of my top reads of the year.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
1 RULES OF PREY
2 SHADOW PREY
3 EYES OF PREY
4 SILENT PREY
5 WINTER PREY
6 NIGHT PREY
7 MIND PREY
8 SUDDEN PREY
9 SECRET PREY
10 CERTAIN PREY
11 EASY PREY
12 CHOSEN PREY
13 MORTAL PREY
14 NAKED PREY
15 HIDDEN PREY
16 BROKEN PREY
The narrative then switches to an upscale Minnesota suburb as Lucas Davenport arrives at a truly horrific murder scene in the Porsche so familiar to the legions of fans of the PREY series by John Sandford. Even to law enforcement professionals involved, the details of the gruesome crime are almost stomach turning. (In fact, it threatens to be the crime which finally causes Lucas' long time associate Sloan to totally burn out and retire from the police force.) The victim is a young woman; her body was systematically scourged, after her throat cut the body was arranged by the killer so that the display would have maximum impact. The details of the killing are not released to the press, both so as to avoid alarming the public and to aid the police in their investigation. When a second victim (a older male who was killed and displayed in the same manner ) is discovered several miles away three weeks later, it is clear that there is not only a serial killer but a true sociopath at large in southern Minnesota.
All the evidence that Lucas and his team assemble points to Charlie Pope, who has cut off his ankle bracelet and disappeared. And yet confusion and doubt linger. The crimes have been so meticulously plotted and carefully executed that Lucas wonders whether Charlie, a man of limited intellgence and supposedly subject to emotional impulse, could really have committed such acts on his own or is simply being manipulated in some manner by a clever mastermind. (Perhaps Charlie has somehow remained in contact with the "Gods Down The Hall", the three most dangerous prisoners at St. John's; they are all kept in solitary confinement due to the extreme danger which they pose to anyone with whom they come into contact).
This is John Sandford at his best - Lucas and his team (Del Capslock even makes a cameo appearance) trying to track down a deranged killer in a race against time. Small missteps result in further murders and the case threatens to become so explosive that it might demand political sacrifices before its conclusion. Lucas is still working as a freelancer for Rose Marie Rioux, the head of the BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension), but her role in this book is largely peripheral to the story. Lucas' childhood friend Elle (Sister Mary Joseph) plays a larger role than usual. Meanwhile Lucas is at loose ends while his wife Weather and his family spend the summe rin London while Weather at a hospital there. Thus, the enjoyable byplay between them is absent from this story. in fact, one of my major disaapointments is that despite maintaining the wonderful Letty West as an integral element in Lucas' life by making her his ward in the aftermath of NAKED PREY, she continues to have no further role in the series.
There is an even larger than usual assortment of interesting characters which intersect in various ways with the storyline; however, the only one who seems likely to have a role in a future novel in the series is Ruffee Ignace (read the book to find out how to pronounce his name.) He is a dogged reporter (and one weird dude) with the Star Tribune who plays a crucial role in the story while constantly listening to the different beat of his own internal "radio". The story has a lot of misdirection, both by the perpetrators of these horrific crimes and by the author of his readers. But it is always clever, never unfair. The gruesome nature of the crimes and the level of detail kept me from rating it a full stars; in fact, if the story had not been so good and I was not such a fan of the series I would not have read it. But I did round up my rating and simply accompany it with a TRIPLE X warning, since for the story to seem realistic the detailed extreme violence is essential. It also has a huge, impressive, exciting firefight near the conclusion - one of the best in this genre. In addition, Sandford does a great job of tying up the loose ends, all the questions which Lucas (and I the reader) had were eventualy answered.
Finally, a special tribute to the use of Lucas' compilation for his IPOD of the "100 Best Songs of the Rock Era" as a clever way to provide a unifying theme among almost all the individuals in the book. At first I thought it was an interesting filler but somewhat of a distraction. (You'll have to read the book to get the background.) However, it became increasingly enjoyable as I (a bigtime rock fan) silently joined in the discussion as various suggestions were made and debated. And the last reference to the list was so ingenious it really made me smile. Rather than provide a fullblown critique, my only comment will be that while I can understand why a cop might chose JAILHOUSE ROCK by Elvis Presley (several of the songs had a police connection); only one song by The King is totally insufficient. But if you finally do choose only one, how can it not be HEARTBREAK HOTEL, the one that began it all? One last tickler, read the book to find out how Weather could convince Lucas that that his choice for #100 should be Jazz Suite No. 2; Waltz 2 by Dmitri Shostakovich. Huh?
Lucas Davenport, working with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and his friend, Minneapolis Police Detective Sloan, get a crash course on interview techniques of the criminally insane when they visit the "Big Three" at St. John's hospital in an effort to figure out how they may be influencing the rampant escalation of heinous sex crimes from inside their isolation cells.
Sandford introduces Ruffee Ignace, an egotistic, career-climbing Tribune reporter who has been contacted by the killer, giving him a public voice. Ignace is ruthless and willing to do anything for the story that will catapult him out of Minneapolis. I'm guessing we'll see him again!
Luckily there are moments throughout the story like Davenport's search for the 100 Best Songs of the Rock Era for his new IPod. Most of the characters add their two cents worth, putting as much into their list choice as they do crime solving! Or there's Lucas' struggle to follow his Doctor-wife's "nutritional guidelines." Lucas went home and ate a steak and onion low carb, low-fat microwave meal "that had apparently been purely made from coal tar and goobers perhaps seasoned with industrial phlegm."
Armchair Inteviews says: These humorous things provide welcome respites from the stress of wondering how close Sanford's plot follows real life psychotic sex murderers! As always, Sanford tells a good crime story!
My only regret is that I will not be able to read it again for the first time. This is a great story!!!