There aren't too many series or authors who I read without question. Authors who can murder off important characters, go down bizarre paths, and do their best to alienate me, and I still follow along like a loyal dog. But Sandford is one of them. Some of it has to do with the investment. His latest book in the Lucas Davenport series, "Stolen Prey", is installment #22, and I've read them all. I can't quit now.
Lucas Davenport is a great main character though. He is sort of a domesticated Jack Reacher who uses more of his brain and less of his brawn these days, versus in his past when he was a rogue with anger management problems. Even though, at this stage, most of the Prey installments are forgettable (with a few major exceptions), I have followed him through this career, watched as he met his wife Weather and fell in love, seen the birth of his children and the death of some close colleagues. So you understand, I'm not leaving no matter what.
If you are new to the series, though, you are going to be able to easily pick up any of the 22 installments and roll with it, you just won't have the pleasure of knowing all the background.
Synopsis: It was the summer of the cast. While getting cash out of an ATM, a couple of meth heads attack Lucas and break his arm. Lucas is seriously pissed at the nerve and the inconvenience, and intends to find them and get a little revenge. But that was just the prelude to a summer Lucas won't ever forget.
An entire suburban family, including two children, brutally tortured and murdered, with a warning written on the wall "were coming". No apostrophe. All clues lead to the Mexican drug underworld, but a lot of things just don't add up. Soon there are more bodies, more horrific scenes of torture, the mention of gold, and some lazy but brilliant computer programmers. Lucas, being the alpha dog that he is, finds himself the informal ringleader of the investigation, which unfortunately leads these sadistic killers to his front door.
My thoughts: For anyone looking for something heavy in nightmarish scenes of gore and body parts, this book will scratch your itch. I am fairly unfazed myself, because so many murder mysteries go there. While the plot was complicated and tangled, and as a result entertaining, this is probably going to be an installment I forget. There are a few facts that did stand out that I want to acknowledge however.
First, I've always been a fan of Lettie, Lucas and Weather's adopted daughter. She has had a hard life, and is tough as nails, smart and streetwise. She has breezed in and out of these books since they first adopted her, but this time she plays an important role. I was very happy to see that.
Every now and again, Sandford employs a technique in his stories where, from the very beginning, you get the point of the view of the evil-doers and you know exactly who they are. It would get old if he used this every time, but he changes it up. He allows us into the minds of some very bad people in this book, BUT! He still surprises us with a twist or two. Keeps us on our toes.
I love the banter between Lucas and his police buddies. It is truly a treat to hang with them, and follow the one or two side projects that are always going on during the big investigation. I was slightly hurt that there was no mention...NOT ONE...of one particular individual who was killed in the last book that has left a big hole in the overall chemistry of the gang. I'm still grieving, and I wanted them to be grieving too.
A few words about the audio production: I haven't read all the Prey books on audio, but I have read a few of them this way, and Richard Ferrone has always narrated them. I didn't spend a huge amount of time looking, but I believe he has narrated them all. Ferrone is a perfect Davenport, and an excellent choice for this genre. I wouldn't hesitate to listen to him in any situation.
I want to enthusiastically thank Sarah Jaffe and the folks at Penguin Audio for generously allowing me to review this audio.
4 out of 5 stars