Twisted Prey by John Sandford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I received a free advance copy of this from NetGalley for review.
Me in 2013: “I love John Sandford novels, but this Silken Prey seems a bit outlandish. Could a rich person with a narcissistic personality disorder who engages in criminal behavior really hope to win an election to an important position in the US government? That seems highly unlikely.”
Me on Election Night 2016: “Why didn’t we heed John Sandford’s warning?!?”
Back in Silken Prey Lucas Davenport tangled with a crazy woman named Taryn Grant who was running for the Senate. She was capable of framing a rival for child pornography and then forming a conspiracy to commit murder to cover it all up. Since she was rich and this is America, she gets away with it.
Now a rival of Grant’s is almost killed in a car accident which he is positive was an attempt to murder him, and Lucas Davenport is asked to check into the case. Davenport is off to D.C. and is quickly convinced that the accident was indeed a professional attempted hit, and he suspects that Grant’s friends at a military contractor filled with ex-special forces members were responsible for it on her orders. Getting evidence on trained killers who know how to cover their tracks and are backed by a powerful rich woman with her eye on the White House won’t be easy though.
Despite the DC setting and Davenport facing off against a crew of bad ass ex-soldiers this all feels like pretty standard stuff for Sandford. Not that it’s a bad thing. Sandford at his worst can write circles around most of the thriller writers on the best seller list, and this is has a lot of intriguing elements like figuring out how the bad guys could have rigged the car accident without leaving a trace. Davenport joined the US Marshals in the last book, and that change has enabled the series to do some interesting new stuff like this.
However, I think this one fell a little short of high potential in a few areas. For starters, even though this is set in DC and involves members of Congress it just doesn’t seem like the circus it would be. I also thought that Grant's response to being investigated would be more politically vicious and involve her trying to do more to smear Davenport in the media rather than going after him with more direct methods. It all just seems a little naïve and optimistic in that the system pretty much works and Davenport is free to investigate without having to worry about the press or the politics of it much at all.
And bear in mind that what I’m essentially saying here is the biggest problem with a plot that involves a member of the US Congress trying to assassinate a political rival and cover it up with the help of shady intelligence connections is that IT'S NOT CYNICAL ENOUGH!
Welcome to America 2018.
There’s a few other issues too, but most of them fall into the category of spoilers. [ Grant really came across as a dangerous nut job in her first appearance, but she doesn’t seem to have the same evil energy here. Plus, it seems like a mistake that she and Lucas never come face-to-face. We’ve also seen the villains try to distract Davenport by going after his family or friends before so to have it happy yet again here seems kind of predictable. Again, I’d more expect Grant to use her political influence and media contacts to drop a world of hurt on Davenport as a way of neutralizing him rather than going to physical attacks against him and his wife as a first response. (hide spoiler)]
While I was a little let down by some of this it was still a solid page turner, and I very much enjoyed the ending which went a long way towards making me forget about some of my quibbles.
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