Tag: John Sandford

John Sandford’s Golden Prey

Let’s take a look at Golden Prey, one of the latest in the Prey Series by John Sandford (link to author post).

Golden Prey by John Sandford

I had read that Golden Prey might be a good starting place if you hadn’t seen this series before and were reluctant to start at the first.  I agree with that assessment because this novel breaks many of the ties of the past books. Lucas Davenport has taken a new job with the U. S. Marshals and he’s out of his depth. He knows his home state of Minnesota and has numerous connections there. Now his beat is the entire country. He’s gone from a small pond to a huge one. Will he be able to keep up with the big fish or will he get swallowed up?

Genre:  Thriller

Once again, this novel follows the thriller road map. We learn what the bad guys are up to early on and the question becomes will Lucas be able to catch them. Also, the ending isn’t tied up completely in a nice neat bow, which makes reading more suspenseful.  You never know who is going to get away with what. Sometimes the bad guys are victims.

Setting:

The U.S. Marshals have wide ranging jurisdiction, so Lucas is free to follow the criminals wherever they go. He’s no longer stuck in Minnesota. Sandford takes full advantage of this, sending him to Tennessee and Texas for much of the book.

Theme:

If readers missed it, Sandford isn’t shy about letting us know that an overarching theme is how dependent we are on cell phones and how they make us vulnerable to being spied on.

“They’re  so great, these little machines are, that we all agree to be spied on for the privilege of carrying them.”

I like how he shows that the criminals are fully as able to track cell phones as law enforcement is.

Conclusion:

Although it must be difficult to maintain momentum without becoming stale, Sandford throws his main character into new situations to keep the stories fresh. As with others in the series, Golden Prey was impossible to put down until the very end.

 

Author Post: John Sandford

John Sandford (real name John Roswell Camp) started out as a journalist. After a distinguished career, including winning a Pulitzer, he decided that he could make more money writing novels. It turned out to be a good choice.

You can find out why he chose to write under a pseudonym for the Prey series and more at his website.

 

The Prey series featuring Lucas Davenport:

For the earlier novels, Lucas Davenport works for various law enforcement agencies in the city of Minneapolis. In the later novels, he goes to work for the U.S. Marshals Service and travels throughout the U.S.

1. Rules of Prey (1989)
2. Shadow Prey (1990)
3. Eyes of Prey (1991)
4. Silent Prey (1992)
5. Winter Prey (1993)
6. Night Prey (1994)
7. Mind Prey (1995)
8. Sudden Prey (1996)
9. Secret Prey (1998)
10. Certain Prey (1999)
11. Easy Prey (2000) –Reviewed
12. Chosen Prey (2001)
13. Mortal Prey (2002)
14. Naked Prey (2003)
15. Hidden Prey (2004)
16. Broken Prey (2005)
17. Invisible Prey (2007)
18. Phantom Prey (2008)
19. Wicked Prey (2009)
20. Storm Prey (2010)
21. Buried Prey (2011)
22. Stolen Prey (2012)
23. Silken Prey (2013) -reviewed below
24. Field of Prey (2014) -shelf
25. Gathering Prey (2015) -shelf
26. Extreme Prey (2016)
27. Golden Prey (April 25, 2017) – Reviewed
28. Twisted Prey (April 24, 2018)
29. Neon Prey (April 23, 2019)

He also has a series featuring Virgil Flowers (as John Sandford) and the Kidd series, originally published under the name John Camp (some more recent editions name John Sandford instead).

Silken Prey* by John Sandford


(*Amazon Affiliate Link)

Jacket Blurb:  Dirty politics hits a new low when one of the candidates of a close race, an incumbent U.S. senator, is caught with child porn. The governor entices Lucas Davenport to investigate whether the senator was framed and if so, by whom. When a political fixer disappears, the trail of dirty tricks points to the senator’s opponent, a smart and powerful young woman. Is she the one and will Lucas be able to stop her?

Characters

John Sandford is an absolute master at creating fully-rounded characters. He has a way of introducing each new person vividly and with memorable details, so that it is easy to keep them straight.

Lauren opened the door, a slender woman, not tall, with red hair and high cheekbones and a big smile.

Describing his friend Elle, the nun:

… now wore what Lucas called “the drabs:  brown or gray dresses and long stockings with a little brown coif stuck on top of her head like the vanilla twist on a Dairy Queen cone.

Can’t you see her?  Although, if the coif is brown, perhaps it should have been a chocolate twist?

His villains are also memorable and well-developed, something that isn’t always easy to do. According to his website, Sandford apparently researches criminals (true crime) so that his antagonists are fictionalized versions of real people or events.

Genre

The Lucas Davenport novels are firmly in the thriller camp. Readers learn quite soon who is behind the dirty tricks and also what happened to the guy who disappeared. The readers spends the rest of the time wondering if Davenport will also be able to figure out what is going on and stop the criminals in time. The cool thing is, with the Prey series it isn’t a given that everything will be wrapped up neatly in a bow at the end.  Knowing that ramps up the tension.

Conclusion

John Sandford is a frequent guest at Poisoned Pen Bookstore. You can get to know him better in this video of his book signing for Extreme Prey.

As Douglas Preston notes, John Sandford’s works seem prescient at times. He has a special talent to be able to keep his novels relevant years after they were first published.

An aspiring writer would do well to study John Sandford’s techniques.

 

###

About Author Posts:

Because I read a lot of mysteries, I’ve been trying to come up with a better system to keep track of which novels I’ve finished. I thought blogging would help, which it does, but I don’t always review everything I read. To get more organized, I’ve decided to create a series of author posts with lists of novels and links to my reviews. I plan to edit these pages as needed.

#BookBeginnings MatchUp Edited by Lee Child

This week we have MatchUp, the new collection of short stories edited by Lee Child for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-button-hurwitz

MatchUp*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

About MatchUp:

This book is a collection of short stories written by twenty-two members of the International Thriller Writers organization. Each short story pairs famous authors, one female and one male, and features the main characters from their respective thrillers.

Sandra Brown and C. J. Box
Val McDermid and Peter James
Kathy Reichs and Lee Child
Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry
Gayle Lynds and David Morrell
Karin Slaughter and Michael Koryta
Charlaine Harris and Andrew Gross
Lisa Jackson and John Sandford
Lara Adrian and Christopher Rice
Lisa Scottoline and Nelson DeMille
J.A. Jance and Eric Van Lustbader

A short blurb profiling the authors, explaining their process, etc. precedes each short story.

First Sentence:

When Joe Pickett set out that morning, he hadn’t anticipated coming face-to-face with a killing machine.

This sentence is from the first short story, Honor & …

Discussion:

Last weekend a friend and I went to a pre-release book signing sponsored by The Poisoned Pen bookstore. Laurie King (author of the series  which features Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes starting with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice) interviewed Diana Gabaldon. They talked about writing short stories. Some of the highlights:

Diana Gabaldon said she won’t be doing a signing of Seven Stones To Stand or Fall when it releases because she’s expecting her first grandchild around then. That’s why she was signing MatchUp now.

Although Seven Stones is supposed to be short stories, it turns out a short story (usually 18,000 words maximum) for Diana is 75,000 words, which is a full novel by most standards. There were a lot of jokes about this.

Her next book is titled Go Tell The Bees I am Gone. It’s in the works, but not completed yet.

She writes from midnight to 4:00 a.m. That is amazing, but I totally get it. In the early morning the world is quiet and there aren’t any interruptions. Well, except when I try to write in the early morning my cats go ballistic. They say, “Alright! Someone is up when we like to play!” Diana has a dog, but she says he stays quiet, too. Lucky her.

She says she includes bathroom breaks for readers in her stories. Too fun.

I could go on and on.

Have you read Diana Gabaldon’s books? Do you think you’ll read MatchUp?

 

#BestsellerCode100: A Reader’s Review of Easy Prey by John Sandford

Easy Prey by John Sandford is next up on our 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge.  This book is #11 in a series of twenty-seven (so far) novels starring Lucas Davenport, a police officer and war games designer.  Interestingly, all twenty-seven books include the word “Prey” in the title.  Does that tell you anything about the series?  In Easy Prey, the body count mounts quickly.  

This post does not contain spoilers.

Easy Prey* by John Sandford

This review is written about the first half of the book, up to Chapter 19.

Police Procedural

Easy Prey is a police procedural novel, which means that the murder mystery is solved by those trained to solve murders, the police, and the story is heavy on the police process.  This is a new type of mystery for me to read and, so far, I like it.  As Roberta mentioned in her Writer’s Review, this book has a lot of characters, but I’ve been able to follow along and keep them all straight without too much difficulty.  I was struck by the amount of detail Sandford gives for each character. For example, in Chapter 6 we are introduced to Lapstrake, a police officer from the Intelligence division.

Lapstrake was a bland, twenty-something guy with a home haircut who wore blue Sears work pants and a blue shirt that said “Cairn’s Glass” on the back.

A blue shirt wasn’t descriptive enough.  Sandford added “Cairn’s Glass” to the back of it.  I had to wonder why Cairn’s Glass, if that would be significant to the story later on, but it did succeed in making Lapstrake’s character more memorable.

Appreciation of Women

Lucas Davenport is not your typical police officer.  For one thing, he’s wealthy; he invented board games to supplement his police income, which turned into computer games and led to his own company selling simulations to law enforcement.  For another, Davenport has an innate appreciation of women, especially beautiful women.  He notices and responds to small things about women that seem atypical of a middle-aged male, let alone a street-hardened cop.  For example, in Chapter 2 he interacts with the wife of a friend:

She and Lucas had always liked each other, and if things had been different, if the Clays hadn’t been quite so happy with each other…She smelled good, like some kind of faintly perfumed soap.

Later, when Davenport is home, he continues to think of her:

Clean, mellow, starting to fade, the memory of Verna Clay’s scent still on his mind, he dropped into bed. He was asleep in five minutes, a small easy smile on his face.

Each woman Davenport interacts with affects him in some physical way, and he interacts with several in this book, in multiple ways.  I feel I’m at a bit of a disadvantage, meeting Davenport midway through the “Prey” series; throughout the book there are mentions of past relationships that I am certain were main themes in previous novels.  He is a character that I want to see from the very beginning in order to watch his growth and learn how far he’s come.

Bodies Galore

I’m only halfway through the book, but the body count is up to six and potentially there are at least two different killers, maybe more.  It’s a lot to keep track of, and even more to consider for motives and means, but I’m hooked.  I’m eager to finish this review so I can get back to reading!  And then I’ll have to track down the first book in the “Prey” series, Rules of Prey.

Do you like police procedural mysteries?  What did you think of Easy Prey?

Related posts (links will be added as posts go live):

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 85. The Klone and I by Danielle Steel (1998) – Discussion begins June 12, 2017.
Touted as a high-tech love story.

#BestsellerCode100: Writer’s Analysis of Easy Prey by John Sandford

Let’s examine at next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, Easy Prey by John Sandford, from a writer’s perspective.

This post contains a few spoilers.

Easy Prey* by John Sandford


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

This is the 11th mystery in the “Prey” series, featuring police detective Lucas Davenport.

Summary:  When a supermodel is killed during a party, there’s a media frenzy surrounding the case. Things get even worse when it is revealed another person was also killed and one of Davenport’s own men is a suspect.

Characters

In Easy Prey, the main character of the series, Lucas Davenport, is a deputy police chief. Although he works for the city of Minneapolis, he can afford to drive a Porsche because he made a great deal of money designing some early computer simulation games, implying he’s working in law enforcement because he really enjoys it.

Author John Sandford creates many, many characters in this novel, including multiple victims, friends and relatives associated with the victims, suspects, police, sheriffs, assistant medical examiners, medical examiners, computer hacks who assist the police, etc. etc. The sheer number of characters is fascinating, especially the duplication. There isn’t one love interest, but three strong candidates and Lucas notices a couple of other women. There isn’t one initial victim, but two, and many more pile up. Lucas regularly reports to not one boss, but both the Chief of Police and the Mayor, who seem to travel in pairs. The good news is each of the characters is given a recognizable name and enough individual details to help keep them separate in the reader’s mind.

In a recent interview (video in this post), Sandford revealed that in his later books he felt Davenport had started to “direct traffic” rather than investigate, meaning his law enforcement team had become large and cumbersome. To overcome that problem in the most recent novel Davenport goes to work for the U.S. Marshals Service, becoming a lone investigator with a minimal number of assistants.

Setting of Easy Prey

As mentioned, the book is set in Minnesota, primarily in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Throughout the book the characters visit local sites, such as the Mall of America.

Sandford says when Davenport works for the city he can develop a level of intimacy with his setting. He knows the locations where crimes are likely to occur and he also knows who to talk to in order to get the inside scoop. In later books, he moves to a statewide agency, where his knowledge is still useful, but more diluted. As a U.S. Marshal (in the latest book) the crimes he investigates might be anywhere in the U.S. and, as Sandford notes, it is like he’s been “thrown into the ocean.” From the writer’s perspective it shows how setting can constrain or control a character.

 

Minneapolis-Easy-Prey-Setting

Public domain photo via VisualHunt

Plot

Not your standard mystery novel, Easy Prey has a convoluted plot with multiple killers who have a range of motives. Readers who like to solve the mystery alongside the detective will be disappointed when one of the killers comes out of left field.

Themes/Topics

Although Sandford is the first to admit that he writes entertaining genre fiction, he does throw in some deeper material. For example, his main character Davenport has a running discussion with an ex-college girlfriend Catrin about her emerging midlife crisis. She put her a career aside in the past to raise her children. Now she feels like she missed something and she regrets having been in the “background of someone else’s movie” when she could have starred in her own. Whether or not you agree with Davenport’s response (either choice will cause regrets), it is not the type of material a reader expects in a detective novel.

Comments

Easy Prey is an entertaining novel. It is also relatively easy to read, especially compared to some others in our challenge, but that isn’t to say the novel is lightweight. Based on elements such as the complexity of the plot and sheer number of characters, it has many things to teach an aspiring writer.

Have you read Easy Prey by John Sandford? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

______________________________

Newest book in the series:

Golden Prey by John Sandford

Published April 25, 2017 – Number 27 in the “Prey” series

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 85. The Klone and I by Danielle Steel (1998) – Discussion begins June 12, 2017.
Touted as a high-tech love story.

#BookBeginnings Easy Prey by John Sandford

Today we’re featuring the next book in The Bestseller Code 100 challenge, Easy Prey by John Sandford for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-button-hurwitz

Easy Prey* by John Sandford


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:   A glamorous supermodel is killed at a party and police detective Lucas Davenport gets the call. Not only does he have to deal with a media frenzy over his case, but things go from bad to worse when another body shows up and one of his men becomes the main suspect.

This is the 11th novel in the “Prey” mystery series.

First Sentence:

When the first man woke up that morning, he wasn’t thinking about killing anyone.

Discussion:

That sets the tone for a mystery, doesn’t it? The man isn’t identified, but it sounds like he may be a killer before the day is out. Also, how many more men that might kill someone are there, if he’s only the first?

So far this book could be called “Easy Read” instead of Easy Prey. It goes down like candy, in stark contrast to our previous Bestseller Code challenge book, World War Z. Thank you, John Sandford.

What do you think? Have you read any of John Sandford’s books?

#BestsellerCode100: Starting Number 86. Easy Prey by John Sandford

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, Easy Prey by John Sandford.

This post does not contain spoilers.

Easy Prey* by John Sandford


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

This is the 11th mystery in the “Prey” series, featuring police detective Lucas Davenport.

Summary:  When a supermodel is killed during a party, there’s a media frenzy surrounding the case. Things get even worse when another person is killed and one of Davenport’s own men becomes the main suspect.

 

Have you read Easy Prey by John Sandford? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts (links will be added as posts go live):

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

Join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about Easy Prey by John Sandford? Feel free to add a link to your review here.


__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 85. The Klone and I by Danielle Steel (1998) – Discussion begins June 12, 2017.
Touted as a high-tech love story.

Four New Novels by Authors On The #BestsellerCode100 List

Are you looking for new novels to read for summer? Four of the authors on The Bestseller Code best 100 list (our ongoing reading challenge) have books coming out.

 

New-Novels-By-The Bestseller Code-List-Authors

 

Let’ take a look at them in the order we have been reading, starting with Number 100.

We read Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island starting on November 7, 2016.  In the novel, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels travels to the Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane on Shutter Island to find out what has happened to a woman who mysteriously disappeared. As the investigation deepens, Daniels uncovers more questions than answers.

Lehane’s newest, Since We Fell*, was released May 9, 2017. It features Rachel, who suffers from agoraphobia and panic attacks. What happens when she spots her husband somewhere he isn’t supposed to be?

 

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Want to find out more? There’s an interview with Dennis Lehane and book excerpt at Here and Now.

#####

We read Number 93, which was Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer-Prize winning collection of short stories, Olive Kitterage, starting February 13, 2017.

Her newest, released April 25, 2017, is also a collection of short stories.

Anything Is Possible* by Elizabeth Strout

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

There’s an informative article about it in The New Yorker.

#####

We’ll be reading Number 86, John Sandford’s Easy Prey, in a few weeks.

His newest in the series, Golden Prey*, came out April 25, 2017

 

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

John Sandford discusses his most recent book at a book signing at Poisoned Pen Bookstore.

#####

Finally, we have Paula Hawkins, who wrote Number 45, The Girl on the Train.

Her new novel, Into the Water*, came out May 2, 2017.

 

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Paula Hawkins  recently chatted live on FaceBook, sponsored by USA Today Life.

Looks like some great new novels to pick up for your summer reading.

Have you spotted any new books by authors on our list?

© 2018 It's A Mystery Blog

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑