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BURIED PREY


By John Sandford

Penguin Audio, 2011 ($39.95)
(Unabridged Compact Disks) 11 hours playing time

Also available in hardbound ($27.95)
ISBN-13: 978-0399157387

Reviewed by Rick McMahan

I've been following John Sandford's PREY series for two decades. Lucas Davenport has been a steady mainstay of detective fiction for a long time, and Lucas has moved up the ranks and out and over all throughout his career (and Sandford's writing career). I've likened the PREY SERIES to the stock market. There have been peaks and valleys and midpoints. It has got to be hard to write a series as long as Sandford's been writing about Lucas Davenport and sustain high quality stories and character development. For awhile, I felt that Sandford's Davenport novels were losing their edge, but I have to say that the past couple of PREY books have been more akin to Sandford's earliest novels. Sharp. Engaging and great fun. BURIED PREY is all of these.

BURIED PREY is about a case of two girls who vanished when Lucas Davenport was a young patrolman. The girls went missing and never seen again. Young patrol officer Davenport was pulled into working plainclothes to help with the massive investigation, and once Davenport got a taste of Detective work, he wanted to make it full time. And he worked the case with a vengeance and dedication trying to get a coveted Detective's shield. The case helped him get into plainclothes, and the cops even nabbed a suspect. But they never found the girls. Lucas felt the cops had gotten the wrong man.

Now, decades later, when old houses are being torn down, the two missing sisters' bodies are found entombed in the basement of one of the old buildings in Minneapolis. The identities are confirmed as the two girls from Davenport's early years. Then for a large portion of the book, the reader is transported back to 1985 and rides along with a young Lucas Davenport as he becomes involved in the investigation. To me, this was the best part of the book. Part of the thrill was that as a reader you got to go back in time, pre- RULES OF PREY. We get to see the young womanizer, cocky-street cop Davenport early in his life and career. We see Davenport as a young street cop who's not yet as savvy in investigations as Davenport later becomes, but a Davenport who has an innate ability and sense of investigations. Those readers who have followed Davenport (and Sandford/Camp)'s career from the early days will thoroughly enjoy BURIED PREY.

The second half of the book is the modern day investigation, and includes all of the "usual suspects" of supporting cast of characters in Davenport's novels from his family to co-workers and fellow cops. Without giving it away, there is a surprise shock for Davenport fans in this one. A surprise Davenport and the reader, and spurs Lucas to follow the hunt for the girls' killer with relentless and reckless abandon. There are plenty of twists and turns in the book, and overall it's one of the better Davenport books as of late. Richard Ferrone does an admirable job narrating the audio-book version.

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