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on September 30, 2001
A few years ago, I asked the owner of a bookstore to recommend some books for me. She said that she had been home sick for the past week and spent the time reading all of the "prey" books. At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about and thought they might have something to do with religion as in "pray" books. After some further discussion, I realized I had stumbled upon a great series by John Sandford. I started to buy the books then and it's taken me this long to finally read the first one. Since I read a lot of mysteries, many of which are part of a series, I'm pretty savvy when it comes to the most popular male protagonists out there at the moment. Now that I've been introduced to Lucas Davenport, my only regret is that I waited this long to begin my relationship with a now favorite character.
The story is a good one and involves a serial killer whose identity is introduced to the reader at the beginning of the book. I like when an author does this as it enables me to get inside the killer's head and follow him around from place to place -- not only to the scene of his crimes but in his everyday life at work and home as well. I also love it when the moment arrives and I realize what the title of the book means. In Rules of Prey, the killer, referred to as "maddog", has certain rules that he follows so as not to get caught. For example, he never kills anyone he knows, he never uses the same weapon twice and he never has a motive. He always leaves a note at each crime scene communicating one of his rules. Not only does this serve as a challenge to our main character, Lucas Davenport, it is also the killer's "in your face" way of letting Lucas know that he is someone to be reckoned with.
As a lead character, Lieutenant Davenport is a dream. He drives around in a Porsche, which was purchased with money he earns not only from gambling but also from a side job he has creating intense, strategic video games. He's smooth, good-looking and a real lady killer (no pun intended). I enjoyed the way he tracked down the clues, which will eventually lead to the killer. He also has no problem working around the "rules" set up by his own police department and I found this flagrant use or "misuse" of his own form of justice a bit ingratiating. But this particular case will prove not to be an easy chase as his sometimes-inept Minneapolis police department is foiled by the "maddog" on more than one occasion.
I understand from other readers that these books just get better and better. That's a real incentive for any mystery reader and is an added bonus just knowing that I get to spend some more quality time with Lucas. This is certainly a series for the ladies as well as the guys. "Shadow Prey" here I come.
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on July 29, 2001
Lieutenant Lucas Davenport's career is on the line as this book begins. He is under 24 hour surveillance by his own Police department as he is one of a number of murder suspects. When another horrific homicide takes place whilst Davenport is under the eyes of the police he is cleared of any association with the crime. As the best man to head up the investigation he goes from suspect to chief investigator instantly.
It is clear that a serial killer is on the loose in the twin cities. Each victim is left with a "Rule of Prey" note such as "Never kill anyone you know" and "Never have a motive". The random killings give no pattern to the police. The only consistencies are the violently sexual assort on each victim and the fact that each victim is an attractive young lady.
The killer's first serious mistake is to allow one of his potential victims to escape alive. She befriends Davenport who gains a clearer picture of the killer's seemingly insignificant idiosyncrasies as well as physical clues such as his stature and strength.
The friendship develops rapidly as Davenport allows her to use his country holiday home to rest, relax and recuperate from her dance with death. Meanwhile, the media is in a frenzy as the city becomes paranoid waiting for the killer to strike again. Davenport is simultaneously in a relationship with a beautiful TV news journalist. These two women allow Davenport to get inside the head of the killer and, using "leaks" to the media, play him at his own psychological game. It is cat and mouse stuff all the way as the tension builds and the plot thickens. The stakes rise as the book develops with any mistake by the killer surely leading to his downfall, whilst any mistake by Davenport will mean yet another victim.
This is an example of graphic writing, combined with terror and suspense. It is not for the faint hearted. Davenport's hectic love life provides light relief from the main theme of the story but is vital to the plot. This is another excellent book in John Sandford's "Prey" series and well worthy of its four stars.
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on June 2, 2001
He's called "maddog." He's a cold-blooded killer who hides behind his daytime attorney role. He believes his murderous success is due to a list of rules that he follows religiously. At every crime scene, he leaves a note with one of his lessons.
Maddog's third attack is unsuccessful and now there is a witness. The Minneapolis police want this man caught quickly. Lieutenant Lucas Davenport is assigned to the case.
Will the maddog claim another victim? It's up to Davenport to catch the killer in Sandford's classic thriller, "Rules of Prey."
This first installment in the "Prey" series introduces Lucas Davenport as a police lieutenant in the twin cities. Though he doesn't play by the rules, his peers respect him. In his spare time he develops role-playing games. The profits from his hobby allow him to be the only cop who drives a Porsche to work.
In "Rules of Prey" the identity of the maddog is known from the beginning. Readers see him plan his moves up to the final attack. Davenport creates his own trap as well, leading to the ultimate showdown between good and evil.
Because this is the first book in the "Prey" series, the Lucas Davenport character is not fully developed. He's younger and more of a physical risk taker here as opposed to the more recent series installments.
"Rules of Prey" is a fascinating thriller. The crimes are heinous, but the inevitable showdown between maddog and Davenport keep the pages turning.
See how the series began. Pick up a copy of "Rules of Prey" today.
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on May 1, 2001
Okay, it's taken me years to start the Sandford series, and granted, Sandford knows how to write, but in many ways, he sacrifices tight, terse writing for just showing us how well he can write. "Rules of Prey" introduces to the quite unusual "hero," Lucas Davenport. Lucas is a cop who will resort to any means to nab his criminal: planting evidence; using dope dealers and prostitutes to further his cause; he sleeps it seems with any woman who'll have him; he's fathered a child, and still beds one of the serial killer's survivors; and in the end, he...well, not to spoil the ending, he just proves he is NOT your usual upright detective.
The book is peopled with characters you can like (Carla, Sister Elle, to name a couple) and characters you can really hate: Jennifer Carey, Anna McGowan, and of course, our serial killer, Louis Villion.
I found Villion's murders seriously under-motivated. We never really know why this respectable, if ineffectual, lawyer is killing these women. And although he starts off brilliant and seemingly uncatchable, by the end of the book, he makes so many stupid mistakes, you have to wonder how he got as far as he did. The nightlight faux pas is particularly stupid, and Lucas' catching of Louis quite far-fetched.
All in all, though, you do get hooked in this book, and I will continue the series unless Sandford gets too off base with Lucas and company.
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on January 26, 2001
My wife bugged me for months to read this series and when I finally broke down, I kicked myself for not starting it sooner. Sandford's books following Minneapolis Police Detective Lucas Davenport are some of the best I've discovered in a long time. I'm working my way through the series and loving it!
Davenport is a maverick, brilliant, somewhat-womanizing detective.  I wasn't sure at first whether or not I'd like the character, but I quickly found myself a big fan of his. He's a cocky loner on the surface, but the digger you deep, the more sensitivity and warmth you find. Sandford has done a wonderful job of creating a character who is both intriguing and believable. (If you're hoping to create a mystery series, you'd better come up with a compelling protagonist and Sandford has certainly done that.)
This book finds Davenport on the trail of a cunning serial killer who sticks to a carefully thought-out set of rules in an attempt to escape capture (hence the title of the book). The mystery really kept me on my toes, wondering how Lucas would manage to capture this deranged murdered.
John Sandford's Prey series is recommended to fans of Michael Connelly, Robert B. Parker, and anyone who enjoys a good detective novel.
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on December 11, 2000
Rules of Prey, which is written by John Sandford, is a great tale between a heroic detective and a serial killer. This story is a part of a series that is written by John Sandford. A theme common among many books, but this novel keeps getting more interesting throughout the entire plot. It is an exciting book to read and easy to follow along. Any person would enjoy reading this book.
The characters Lucas Davenport, the detective, and Louis Vullion, also known as the maddog killer, are unique on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Davenport is the typical masculine male figure with his good looks and charm; he sleeps with basically every woman in town ... you can't help but enjoy his lifestyle. The maddog, on the other hand, is more of the quiet character; he is the most grotesque personality imaginable, which, once again, keeps any reader interested. For example the maddog once leaves the message on Davenport's answering machine, "It was lovely," after one of the murders. Both are quite intelligent and know how to play the game.
The thoughts of both characters are written clearly, which creates two stories that tie together at the end. The characters are compelling in the highest forms. Depending on your personality, you'll be rooting for one or the other. Throughout the entire story, you begin to understand the reasoning for each character. The story also includes action that keeps the pages turning the whole time. It is a very enjoyable book to read especially reading in solitude.
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on August 21, 2000
I was lucky and bought this book when it just came out, and have read every one of the prey series since.
This is a great, easy to read thriller written by a confident and deft writer. But it is also a great foundation for a series... So all the male characters have quite a bit of depth to them. And Lucas definitely lasts the distance.
If you've not read any of the series you're in for a treat. Admittedly the women aren't written as well as the men, but Lucas is such a complex character, with his friendships and mind games, with his willingness to set people up and his rage when he fails to take into account all the consiquences. Some of the other reviews were a bit damning on this level, but I liked it for that very reason - Lucas is three dimensional, and as any three dimensional person will tell you, there are parts that contradict each other. Lucas has these contradictions, but in a wholly authentic way.
The women get better as you go down the series (or at least some of them do) and while not all the books are as good as this one, most of them flow with ease and energy and all are worth reading.
Sandford just gets better and better as a writer and I buy him in full confidence that I will enjoy the read. My personal favourite is Shadow Prey, which stands on its own, but it helps to read the earlier ones first.
Hope this helps,
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on August 5, 2000
Lucas Davenport, ace investigator, is on the trail of the latest woman-hunter who savagely kills without leaving a clue. Louis Vullion is a mediocre attorney turned serial killer who loves games as much as Davenport. The two begin a cat-and-mouse chase once Louis fails in his attempts to murder Carla Ruiz.
This is the first Sandford novel I've attempted. After reading so many positive, enthusiastic reviews of the PREY series, I simply had to start at the beginning. Was I disappointed? Not entirely. There are some interesting characters. Carla Ruiz is a rather strong, determined, intelligent woman. Sister Mary Joseph (or Elle Kruger when she grew up with Davenport) was my favorite character overall; she's witty, intelligent, confident and she serves as an anchor and confidante for Davenport. Louis himself is an interesting killer; however, there is no clear motive for his killing. There are some brief mentions of a weak mother, but nothing substantial about Louis is ever fleshed out. Annie McGowan and Jennifer Carey are rival tv reporters sniffing out the hottest story in Minnesota. Then there's Davenport. Intelligent? Yes. Brilliant detective? Perhaps. But he also possesses the scruples of a street hood, beds half the female characters before the story truly begins, and is quite willing to plant evidence or to physically threaten/harm witnesses or suspects. He designs elaborate games which supposedly supplies him with an income allowing him to drive a Porsche, own a wilderness hideaway, a boat, and several collectible firearms. One of his many girlfriends becomes pregnant, and the two share many a glass of wine and bottles of beer throughout the novel. Hmmmm.....
The last 100 pages of this novel redeemed it in my opinion. I was honestly rather bored through the earlier segments, but I appreciated the quicker pace offered more toward the end. Perhaps I've read one too many serial-killer novels, but this one was a bit too predictable for my taste. I know I'll try out at least one more in the series to see if Sandford develops some of these characters (and if Davenport's libido cools off). I'd also like to see if Sandford is able to strengthen the writing and to provide a less predictable story with a more thrilling conclusion. Overall, I give this 3 stars because it was interesting enough to keep me reading. I'll reserve more glowing reviews if the next in the series does better at grabbing my attention from beginning to end.
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on December 9, 2003
Very suspenseful tale about a "Ted Bundy" type individual who has singlehandedly placed fear in every brunette in the Twin Cities area. He's a very twisted bloodthirsty yet highly intelligent professional man who makes these rules for killing individuals. Davenport plays the cynical yet smart and passionate detective who uses unorthodox but effective methods of tracking the killer.
Very heart pounding in your face thriller and quite a debut for Sandford. Davenport's character is very easy to dislike in this one because he demonstrates the thin line that separates him and the killer.
Sandford has given us a hero who is very flawed but he's being realistic in his approach. Face it, not every individual who hunts down bad guys is a highly moral self-righteous church goer who wants us all to get along. DAvenport is highly selfish and very much a womanizer. He is also smart, ruthless and tough. These attributes are necessary when going after a cold-blooded killer.
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on May 2, 2001
A friend recommended the Prey series to me and I've just finished Rules of Prey, the first in the series.
I'm a fan of Patterson's Alex Cross novels, but I found Sandford's Lucas Davenport to be a much better written, complex and interesting character than the somewhat one-dimensional and overly noble Alex Cross. Sandford also writes real chapters (sorry but I find Patterson's two page chapters incredibly frustrating!)
I didn't find the characterization of the psycho in Rules terribly innovative, but I liked the interplay between the psycho and Lucas. The plot paces well and there are many layers to the story. It's very engrossing. A couple of criticisms brought it down from 4 to 3 stars for me; in my opinion the female characters are pretty flat stereotypes, the use of the term "cripple" was offensive, and the psycho's motivation was pretty lame. I am looking forward to continuing reading this series.
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