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By John Sandford

Putnam, May, 2000 (HC) $25.95.

Reviewed by Rick McMahan

EASY PREY is the latest book in the Lucas Davenport series. First of all, let me say, I've been following Lucas Davenport's career from the onset; an easy way for me to rate how much I enjoy an author's work is my willingness to buy the book as soon as it hits the stands in hardcover. Or not. I've been a hardback buyer of John Sandford, but I have to say, I've been disappointed with the last few Prey books. They are not "badly written" or sloppy, they just lack an intensity of earlier Lucas Davenport books.

What I see happening is that we (the readers) have a wider view, more of a "big picture scene" now that Davenport is an Assistant Police Chief, and less of a picture and portrait of Davenport as a character and human being. Davenport directs investigations and has a central hand in the mystery, but we see less of the inside workings of Lucas Davenport's personal character as the writing spreads to include Del and the rest of Davenport's investigative crew. The small amount of Davenport's personal life in this novel revolves around his re-connection with an old sweetheart, and the turmoil (left unanswered at the end of the book) of his attraction towards her.

How can John Sandford re-invigorate his character? I'm not sure. It seems that Davenport is getting lost as a character in the telling of the Prey tales anymore.

Having said all of this negative on the Prey books, I have to say Sandford writes a well-written tale. His writing slips the reader right into the story, even if his hero is drifting from the central light of the stories. Sandford's writing draws the reader in from the first page and the pages just flow as you read. In short, a well-written story.

In EASY PREY, a super-model, Alie Maison, is murdered at a celebrity party. Beginning almost as a locked-room mystery, the dead model was in a house full of people in the final moments of her life, the investigations grows and expands outside the four walls of the house.

The police procedurals of Lucas Davenport mesh police investigations with the political pressures and political jockeying that occurs in high-profile investigations where the media feeds the fires. EASY PREY is worth reading, but I do hope that Sandford re-centers the next Prey novel, and pares down and focuses on Lucas Davenport's character and less of the machinations of the politics of his position and the characters of his subordinates. In short, I want more Lucas Davenport.

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