Monday, April 5, 2021

Review: Hidden Prey

Hidden Prey Hidden Prey by John Sandford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a top agent for Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Lucas Davenport has mastered the art of introducing himself to local law enforcement so that they won’t resent him as an outsider coming in to tell them how to do their job:

The cop who’d followed Lucas in said, “Hey, when I’m talking to you…”

Lucas pointed his finger at him and snarled, “Shut the fuck up. Who’s running this clown factory?”

As a plain-clothes cop, Lucas is also well aware of the danger of running across other police officers during a pursuit and the proper way to identify himself:

Both the cops were screaming at him and Lucas shouted, “BCA, you dumb motherfuckers,” and finally one of the cops waved a hand at his partner and said, “Put the gun in the street.”

“Fuck you,” Lucas yelled back. “My hands are over my head, I’m not touching the gun again because you dumb motherfuckers’ll shoot me sure as shit.”

Lucas can also demonstrate his gift of diplomacy and calm persuasion when dealing with a reluctant witness who is in danger but still refuses to reveal anything about the criminal enterprise he’s involved in:

The sat in silence for a moment, and then Lucas said, “Well, fuck ya. We told ya.”

As these quotes show, Lucas is a little grumpy in this one. Despite everything going well on the personal front, he’s chafing a bit at the blatant political nature of his new state job as the governor’s guy who ‘fixes shit’, and he’s also starting to worry that being surrounded by violent death for over twenty years has started to take a toll.

But when a Russian is killed at a dock on Lake Superior, the international pressure demands some kind of solution so Lucas finds himself teamed up with a pretty woman sent from Moscow to observe the investigation. Nadya claims to be a Russian cop, but Lucas is pretty sure she’s actually an intelligence agent and her agenda may be different from his. The FBI is also sniffing around, but they’re far more worried about terrorists than revisiting the Cold War. Lucas cares little about the ‘spy shit’, but he does get irked when more bodies start dropping all over Minnesota.

The spy angle and Davenport’s dissatisfaction with the job are a departure from the usual Prey books, but a grumpy Lucas is also a funny Lucas. Sandford has been making noises about ending the series for some time, but this as the first clear idea in the books that Lucas might be thinking about quitting law enforcement for good. Since there’s been about 10 more books since then, he apparently got over it although Sandford still talks about wrapping up Lucas’ story at some point.

This one also features another interesting twist on the villain with a Soviet era spy who is still a true believer in Communism and has raised his grandson to follow in his murderous footsteps. It’s another good step away from the typical serial killer we usually get in thrillers.

Next: Lucas goes to the nut house in Broken Prey.

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