Sudden Prey

September 27, 2013 Book Reviews 3 ★★★★

Sudden Prey four-stars
Series: Prey #8
on 01/01/1996
Pages: 374
Format: Paperback

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It begins with a death and ends with one. For months, Lucas Davenport's men have been tracking a vicious woman bank robber named Candy, and when they finally catch up with her, she does not go quietly. In the ensuing shoot-out, she dies — and Davenport's nightmare starts. For her associates are even worse than she was, particularly her husband, a deeply violent man who swears an appropriate revenge: first he will find the names of those responsible; then he will kill those nearest and dearest to them, just the way they did Candy.
So it begins. The husband of one officer is shot and killed. The wife of another is ambushed at work. When a third attack is thwarted, the pattern becomes clear to Davenport, and with an urgency born of rage and terror, he presses the hunt, desperately trying to track down the killers before they can strike again, before they can reach out for Davenport's own loved ones. But in this effort, he may already be too late.

Review by Travis Starnes

In the 8th installment of the Prey series John Sandford has decided to kick things up a notch.  Up till now Lucas Davenport has faced a cavalcade of psychopaths who have all had self-preservation at the top of their list.  In this book however Davenport has to face off against criminals targeting cops for all out revenge and a do or die attitude.

So far the Prey series has really worked for me.  The stories have all been connected enough that I can feel the thread between them but with plots and even a tone that is different from book to book.  It’s not often a series manages to pull that off and Sandford has does it with flying colors.  As usual this is not a “who done it” type of book, as we see the story from both the perspective of Davenport and the people he is after.  Instead Sudden Prey falls into the crime/police detective sub-genre.  Without a mystery for the reader to solve the plot really has to drive the story and in this case it succeeds.   I particularly enjoyed the sub-plot with the dirty cop.  He added another level that Davenport had to sift through and kept the plot just complicated enough to stay interesting.

As usual Davenport himself is written well.  Sandford’s take on the character as a good but flawed hero with a violent streak makes him really fun to follow.  I have always said the “white hat” style of protagonist doesn’t work and Davenport definitely does not fall into that trap. Lucas has generally held true to his nature for several books without much variance.  So it is nice to see his supporting cast start to question the motivations behind some of his actions. Not to say that the character is without development in this book.  We do get glimpses where Davenport can see past his normal justifications and understand why other people are concerned about his actions.

The supporting cast also has some nice progression, of course helped by the fact that most of them have been carried over for multiple books.  I did find myself missing Sister Mary Joseph but the fast pace of this novel did not really leave as much time for her inclusion.

Lachaise, who is after the cops for killing his wife, and his cohorts are not bad characters but also not the best antagonists I have read in this series.  Except for a few scattered places none of the villains in the books really showed much depth.  They are crazy, ruthless and cold hearted….and that is about it.  While I appreciate their motivation in the book doesn’t give much room to showing complexities it still leaves me wanting a little more.

What really made this a page turner was the pacing.  Never a slow series, this installment really picks up the pace.  It starts out with a straight up action beat that we normally don’t get from Sandford, who usually goes with more of the slow build.  A big gunfight in chapter one is always a good place to start if you want a rip-roaring tale.  While it dips for a few chapters after that as the villains and their supporting players are set up, this lull doesn’t last for long.  The remaining two thirds of Sudden Prey seem to happen at full speed, never slowing down.  Not usually a suspenseful writer, Sandford even managed to keep me on the edge of my seat several times.

For me this book fell somewhere between a mystery and an action thriller.  That makes for a nice middle ground of two genres I like.  If you are a fan of crime fiction and fast paced story telling then I would say this is a good book to check out.  But if you haven’t read the earlier books in the series, start there first.  Davenport has had an interesting journey up to this point and you don’t want to jump in half way.

Rating Report
Overall: 4.2

3 Responses to “Sudden Prey”

  1. Chelsey

    Pretty nice post. I Enjoy this series too, and I agree this was not one of the better ones

  2. Corey A

    How was the first book? Does the series stay good overall, or is getting to this book hard?

    • Travis Starnes

      It was good. There has been a lot of change from book one to this one (book #8). It manages to keep what makes the book fun to read but change enough not to get stale.

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