It starts, as many in this long running series do, with the discovery of a body. This time, the body is a dead woman posed on the banks of the Mississippi facing the lights of St. Paul. She is on display for all to see but for reasons Lucas Davenport and others do not yet realize. She has been whipped with something that has left long marks on her body from her collarbone to her knees. The depths of the blows, some directly on top of others and therefore deepening the original cuts, might have killed her. But the killer left no doubt when he slashed her throat. Her name was Angela Larson and she had been a young vibrant college student. Minneapolis Detective Sloan needs Lucas’ help on this and more than that he wants permission from his old friend to call Elle, Luca’s friend.

Sister Mary Joseph, “Elle,” is head of the Department of Psychology at St. Anne’s College and has known Lucas since both were in kindergarten. While their life paths diverged, she went to the convent and he into police work eventually rising to his current position as head of The Office of Regional Research in the BCA; they both deal with crime, murder, and the aftereffects on the survivors. Elle had suggestions and while Sloan and Lucas worked various angles using the resources of their respective units the case stalled. When the second violent crime happens, this time the brutal murder of a man and his young son; Lucas finds details that link the case to Angela Larson. With Lucas’ wife, Weather and his family out of town in London, England, Lucas has plenty of time and more than enough motivation to work the case fulltime and chase an elusive madman.

This is the seventeenth novel in the Prey Series and possibly one of the most gut wrenchingly violent in the series. The trend of Lucas and others swearing throughout the book with very little provocation, unlike the early ones in the series, continues. So too does the more distant hands of portrayal of Lucas as it has for the last several novels. Despite the familial influences of Weather and children, Lucas remains a more cold and distant person. However, the gut wrenching violence which leads ultimately to an intense climatic shootout inside a psychiatric facility reaches levels not seen since the very first novels of the series.

While characters continue to move forward in life, most notably Detective Sloan who provides a small personal secondary storyline, almost nothing is added to the other characters development wise. As such, while all the usual players familiar to readers of the series return, they may have aged chronologically, but they haven’t changed from what is expected. As such, the focus is completely on the case, which provides plenty of action and twists as they chase an elusive suspect. As usual in this series, the only humor in the main storyline is macabre at best. There is also a secondary storyline that is designed to provide some comic relief as Lucas attempts for reasons detailed in the novel, to determine what are the best 100 rock and roll songs of all time. Your choices when matched to the list at the back of the book may vary.

The resulting effort is a good read that grabs the reader from the beginning in a marked improvement from recent reads in this series. It provides a roller coaster effect for the reader and continues the Prey legacy. The intensity of the final fifty pages is some of the best writing this author has produced in quite some time and well worth a read in one sitting.

Broken Prey

By John Sandford

G. P. Putnam’s Sons


ISBN # 0-399-15272-5


Kevin R. Tipple © 2005, 2008

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