A penny saved is ridiculous.

A penny saved is ridiculous.

Friday, December 23, 2011

All kinda preying going on


Lucas Davenport takes on two very dangerous, sociopathic women in Certain Prey, the 10th installment in John Sandford's ongoing Prey series starring his hard-as-nails yet entertainingly quirky Minneapolis police detective character.

The antagonists this time are Carmel Loan, a tigress criminal defense attorney, and Clara Rinker, the hit woman that Loan hires to knock off the wife of a property lawyer she wants for herself. Initially only meeting briefly (when Loan pays Rinker her fee), the two are soon forced to interact on a more prolonged basis when a few loose ends need to be cleaned up soon after the initial hit is completed. The tension is ratcheted up when those loose ends ultimately necessitate more killing.

The fun of the book's early going comes from the warm, unlikely friendship that develops between the two usually aloof women, and the fact that Loan, who never really committed a crime before, turns out to be much more of a cold sociopath than the woman who's an actual hit woman! It's also fun to see Davenport and his fellow cops, along with an FBI agent or two, engage in all kinds of cat-and-mouse scenarios as they make a concerted attempt to nail Loan and Rinker (the hit woman had been chased by the FBI for years).

As usual, Lucas Davenport is entertainingly pragmatic: once it's clear that Loan has too well protected herself from prosecution for the crimes she's committed, Davenport comes up with a plan to simply frame her for crimes she didn't do. Hey, whatever gets her off the street, right? Needless to say, you should just check your social conscience at the door and just enjoy the tense, page-turning ride John Sandford always reliably delivers.

And an enjoyable ride it is. This Prey installment is about 85% the case at hand, and 15% fun stuff with the cops (their lives, romances, etc.). That's pretty much the right mix when a Prey book's main crime plot is- like it is here- a particularly good one. There's just enough of the quirky, fun cop stuff (including a romantic flirtation between Lucas and a female FBI agent) to provide variety, but not too much to overly distract from the main story.

It's been great marching through this terrific thriller series since discovering it two or three years back with Rules of Prey, the first book in the series. Since then, I've been reading two or three installments a year, whenever the mood strikes. Next up: Easy Prey. I'm sure that will be a good one, too, as there hasn't been a loser in the bunch yet.

Certain Prey is available on Kindle for $7.99.

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