Invisible Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #17)

Invisible Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #17)

by John Sandford

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“A crackling addition to [the] Prey series” (Entertainment Weekly) from #1 New York Times bestselling author John Sandford.

In a wealthy Minneapolis neighborhood, two elderly women are bludgeoned to death. They are apparent victims of a random robbery, though nothing of value appears to have been stolen. But when Lucas Davenport looks deeper, he fears that the victims weren’t so random, and the items stolen were far from invaluable.

As a pattern emerges it leads Lucas to…certainly not where he expected. Which is too bad, because the killers are expecting him. And that’s only the first surprise…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425221150
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/29/2008
Series: Lucas Davenport Series , #17
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 65,780
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John Sandford is the pseudonym of Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist John Camp. He is the author of the Prey novels, the Kidd novels, the Virgil Flowers novels, The Night Crew, and Dead Watch. He lives in New Mexico


St. Paul, Minnesota

Date of Birth:

February 23, 1944

Place of Birth:

Cedar Rapids, Iowa


State University of Iowa, Iowa City: B.A., American History; M.A., Journalism

Read an Excerpt


AN ANONYMOUS VAN, some-kind-of-pale, cruised Summit Avenue, windows dark with the coming night. The killers inside watched three teenagers, two boys and a girl, hurrying along the sidewalk like windblown leaves. The kids were getting somewhere quick, finding shelter before the storm.

The killers trailed them, saw them off, then turned their faces toward Oak Walk.

The mansion was an architectural remnant of the nineteenth century, red brick with green trim, gloomy and looming in the dying light. Along the wrought-iron fence, well-tended beds of blue and yellow iris, and clumps of pink peonies, were going gray to the eye.

Oak Walk was perched on a bluff. The back of the house looked across the lights of St. Paul, down into the valley of the Mississippi, where the groove of the river had already gone dark. The front faced Summit Avenue; Oak Walk was the second-richest house on the richest street in town.

Six aging burr oaks covered the side yard. In sunlight, their canopies created a leafy glade, with sundials and flagstone walks, charming with moss and violets; but moon shadows gave the yard a menacing aura, now heightened by the lightning that flickered through the incoming clouds.

“Like the Munsters should live there,” the bigger of the killers said.

“Like a graveyard,” the little one agreed.

The Weather Channel had warned of tornadic events, and the killers could feel a twister in the oppressive heat, the smell of ozone thick in the air.

The summer was just getting started. The last snow slipped into town on May 2, and was gone a day later. The rest of the month had been sunny and warm, and by the end of it, even the ubiquitous paper-pale blondes were showing tan lines.

Now the first of the big summer winds. Refreshing, if it didn’t knock your house down.

ON THE FOURTH PASS, the van turned into the driveway, eased up under the portico, and the killers waited there for a porch light. No light came on. That was good.

They got out of the van, one Big, one Little, stood there for a moment, listening, obscure in the shadows, facing the huge front doors. They were wearing coveralls, of the kind worn by automotive mechanics, and hairnets, and nylon stockings over their faces. Behind them, the van’s engine ticked as it cooled. A Wisconsin license plate, stolen from a similar vehicle in a 3M parking lot, was stuck on the back of the van.

Big said, “Let’s do it.”

Little led the way up the porch steps. After a last quick look around, Big nodded again, and Little pushed the doorbell.

They’d done this before. They were good at it.

THEY COULD FEEL the footsteps on the wooden floors inside the house. “Ready,” said Big.

A moment later, one of the doors opened. A shaft of light cracked across the porch, flashing on Little’s burgundy jacket. Little said a few words—“Miz Peebles? Is this where the party is?”

A slender black woman, sixtyish, Peebles said, “Why no . . .” Her jaw continued to work wordlessly, searching for a scream, as she took in the distorted faces.

Little was looking past her at an empty hallway. The groundskeeper and the cook were home, snug in bed. This polite inquiry at the door was a last-minute check to make sure that there were no unexpected guests. Seeing no one, Little stepped back and snapped, “Go.”

Big went through the door, fast, one arm flashing in the interior light. Big was carrying a two-foot-long steel gas pipe, with gaffer tape wrapped around the handle-end. Peebles didn’t scream, because she didn’t have time. Her eyes widened, her mouth dropped open, one hand started up, and then Big hit her on the crown of her head, crushing her skull.

The old woman dropped like a sack of bones. Big hit her again, as insurance, and then a third time, as insurance on the insurance: three heavy floor-shaking impacts, whack! whack! whack!

THEN A VOICE from up the stairs, tentative, shaky. “Sugar? Who was it, Sugar?”

Big’s head turned toward the stairs and Little could hear him breathing. Big slipped out of his loafers and hurried up the stairs in his stocking feet, a man on the hunt. Little stepped up the hall, grabbed a corner of a seven-foot-long Persian carpet and dragged it back to the black woman’s body.

And from upstairs, three more impacts: a gasping, thready scream, and whack! whack! whack!

Little smiled. Murder—and the insurance.

Little stooped, caught the sleeve of Peebles’s housecoat, and rolled her onto the carpet. Breathing a little harder, Little began dragging the carpet toward an interior hallway that ran down to the kitchen, where it’d be out of sight of any of the windows. A pencil-thin line of blood, like a slug’s trail, tracked the rug across the hardwood floor.

Peebles’s face had gone slack. Her eyes were still open, the eyeballs rolled up, white against her black face. Too bad about the rug, Little thought. Chinese, the original dark blue gone pale, maybe 1890. Not a great rug, but a good one. Of course, it’d need a good cleaning now, with the blood-puddle under Peebles’s head.

OUTSIDE, there’d been no sound of murder. No screams or gunshots audible on the street. A window lit up on Oak Walk’s second floor. Then another on the third floor, and yet another, on the first floor, in the back, in the butler’s pantry: Big and Little, checking out the house, making sure that they were the only living creatures inside.

WHEN THEY KNEW that the house was clear, Big and Little met at the bottom of the staircase. Big’s mouth under the nylon was a bloody O. He’d chewed into his bottom lip while killing the old woman upstairs, something he did when the frenzy was on him. He was carrying a jewelry box and one hand was closed in a fist.

“You won’t believe this,” he said. “She had it around her neck.” He opened his fist—his hands were covered with latex kitchen gloves—to show off a diamond the size of a quail’s egg.

“Is it real?”

“It’s real and it’s blue. We’re not talking Boxsters anymore. We’re talking SLs.” Big opened the box. “There’s more: earrings, a necklace. There could be a half million, right here.”

“Can Fleckstein handle it?”

Big snorted. “Fleckstein’s so dirty that he wouldn’t recognize the Mona Lisa. He’ll handle it.”

He pushed the jewelry at Little, started to turn, caught sight of Peebles lying on the rug. “Bitch,” he said, the word grating through his teeth. “Bitch.” In a second, in three long steps, he was on her again, beating the dead woman with the pipe, heavy impacts shaking the floor. Little went after him, catching him after the first three impacts, pulling him away, voice hard, “She’s gone, for Christ’s sakes, she’s gone, she’s gone . . .”

“Fucker,” Big said. “Piece of shit.”

Little thought, sometimes, that Big should have a bolt through his neck.

Big stopped, and straightened, looked down at Peebles, muttered, “She’s gone.” He shuddered, and said, “Gone.” Then he turned to Little, blood in his eye, hefting the pipe.

Little’s hands came up: “No, no—it’s me. It’s me. For God’s sake.”

Big shuddered again. “Yeah, yeah. I know. It’s you.”

Little took a step back, still uncertain, and said, “Let’s get to work. Are you okay? Let’s get to work.”

Twenty minutes after they went in, the front door opened again. Big came out, looked both ways, climbed into the van, and eased it around the corner of the house and down the side to the deliveries entrance. Because of the pitch of the slope at the back of the house, the van was no longer visible from the street.

The last light was gone, the night now as dark as a coal sack, the lightning flashes closer, the wind coming like a cold open palm, pushing against Big’s face as he got out of the van. A raindrop, fat and round as a marble, hit the toe of his shoe. Then another, then more, cold, going pat-pat . . . pat . . . pat-pat-pat on the blacktop and concrete and brick.

He hustled up to the back door; Little opened it from the inside.

“Another surprise,” Little said, holding up a painting, turning it over in the thin light. Big squinted at it, then looked at Little: “We agreed we wouldn’t take anything off the walls.”

“Wasn’t on the walls,” Little said. “It was stuffed away in the storage room. It’s not on the insurance list.”

“Amazing. Maybe we ought to quit now, while we’re ahead.”

“No.” Little’s voice was husky with greed. “This time . . . this time, we can cash out. We’ll never have to do this again.”

“I don’t mind,” Big said.

“You don’t mind the killing, but how about thirty years in a cage? Think you’d mind that?”

Big seemed to ponder that for a moment, then said, “All right.”

Little nodded. “Think about the SLs. Chocolate for you, silver for me. Apartments: New York and Los Angeles. Something right on the Park, in New York. Something where you can lean out the window, and see the Met.”

“We could buy . . .” Big thought about it for a few more seconds. “Maybe . . . a Picasso?”

“A Picasso . . .” Little thought about it, nodded. “But first—I’m going back upstairs. And you . . .”

Big grinned under the mask. “I trash the place. God, I love this job.”

OUTSIDE, across the back lawn, down the bluff, over the top of the United Hospital buildings and Seventh Street and the houses below, down three-quarters of a mile away, a towboat pushed a line of barges toward the moorings at Pig’s Eye. Not hurrying. Tows never hurried. All around, the lights of St. Paul sparkled like diamonds, on the first line of bluffs, on the second line below the cathedral, on the bridges fore and aft, on the High Bridge coming up.

The pilot in the wheelhouse was looking up the hill at the lights of Oak Walk, Dove Hill, and the Hill House, happened to be looking when the lights dimmed, all at once.

The rain-front had topped the bluff and was coming down on the river.

Hard rain coming, the pilot thought. Hard rain.

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Invisible Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #17) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 109 reviews.
XXXOOOBookwormOOOXXX More than 1 year ago
This story begins with two elderly ladies; a rich one and her maid who are beaten to death in a rather efficient and brutal manner. Upon investigation it is found that while some antiques and valuables are missing, there is certainly nothing valuable enough to in anyway justify the death of these two people. Or are there valuable items missing that simply have not been identified? As the body count increases past unsolved murders are slowly linked to these recent killings and Davenport finds himself involved in a very complicated and perplexing series of crimes which not only involve murder but the antique and art business. As always Sandford is able to tie the various seemingly unrelated cases together in rather unique ways. One of the things that I like about the Prey series is that Sandford has allowed his primary protagonist, Lucas Davenport to evolve and by that I mean he has allowed him to age and mature. As these novels progress (and `Invisible Prey' is a prime example of this) we find Lucas aging, maybe not so much mentally, but most certainly physically. This is only natural and I like it because I am aging myself and am certainly not the person I was ten, twenty, thirty or forty years ago. As always, Sandford has provided us with some despicable villains which must be dealt with. I note that the characters are not as insane or psychopathic as some of his earlier bad guys but this not make them any less evil. The story is well written as you would expect from a master story teller of the caliber of Sandford and the plost gives us many twists and turns which keep the pages turning. In this particular work very little is written about Lucas's wife which is probably best because in most of the recent novels about all she does is sleep anyway so her absence in this work is more of a blessing than anything. I highly recommend this book as the series has attested so long to it's preceding reputation. 
harstan More than 1 year ago
Minneapolis Police Detective Lucas Davenport leads a very sensitive investigation into the activities of Minnesota State Senator Burt Kline allegedly having sex with a minor. The consummate professional cop, Lucas is extremely careful with his handling of the official inquiry because he knows what a mess a media feeding frenzy would be with a politician-Lolita tryst. --- As he prepares to arrest Mr. Kline for sex with a fifteen year old, Lucas also is assigned the murders of wealthy widow Constance Bucher and her maid Sugar Rayette-Peeples in the former¿s mansion. Both were battered to death and the house ransacked. The first thought is a robbery turned ugly, as the affluent home is filled with valuable antiques. However, Lucas realizes that he has no idea whether anything was stolen so perhaps the murders were personal especially with the skulls smashed. As he continues his inquires, he soon finds a strange connection to the sleazy senator scenario, but identifying the killers still remains difficult and convoluted. ---- Though number seventeen in this long running police procedural, INVISIBLE PREY is a fantastic tale in which the two cases are appealing because of the strong key players ranging from victims, suspects, witnesses, ¿vultures¿ and participants, etc. Readers will appreciate Lucas¿ investigations as John Sandford provides his hero with not the usual suspects in what will prove to be a one sitting thriller. ---- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous 29 days ago
Such a great author! Lucas Davenport is one of my favorite characters to read about. Anytime I see his name I know I need to read that book.
Anonymous 7 months ago
All the LUCAS Davenport BOOKS are hugely entertaining as well as making you want to read more!!!! Thank you , John Sandford!!! I will continue until i have read them alll!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SonicQuack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
'Invisible Prey' is a well thought out piece of crime fiction. Lucas Davenport, the central character in the 'Prey' series is once more thrown in to the midst of a complicated crime. What makes this, and each 'Prey' novel is the approach and the plot. The plot here is no run-of-the-mill serial killer story, but an interesting and clever piece of narrative. The approach is also different. In fact for the first third of the book it seems that Davenport will be dealing with two completely separate crimes. Sandford has deviated from the standard path of the genre and created a compelling and thoroughly believable crime thriller. The finale isn't as strong as it could have been although it maintains it's well written feel of reality and there's not as much suspense as in other 'Prey' novels. On the bright side it is pacey, witty, sneaky and filled with likeable characters (and some despicable ones too). Highly recommended indeed.
audryh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Davenport is called in to investigate two murders in an old mansion full of antiques. Nothing seems to be missing until a teenager starts looking around and notes missing pieces. This is linked to a series of similar murders with missing valuables. Good read.
readafew on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Invisible Prey is the 17th outing with Lucas Davenport. He's back and stuck in the middle of a nasty political quagmire. A Congressman has had a teenager point her finger at him and claimed sexual intestacy, necessitating an investigation into possible statutory rape charges. The Congressman is politically powerful, and the 'sex' stories seem a little like a get rich scheme. Next, comes an apparent murder/burglary but the clues don't really fit together. Eventually, similar cases are brought to light and Lucas believes it's more than a couple druggies looking for some quick cash.This book fits well with the Davenport we've grown to like, it is very similar to the early novels as far as the pacing, tension and puzzle solving. This is another great addition by Sandford to the Davenport collection.
wcath on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although not my favorite of the Prey books, this is still very much a page-turner. It has been quite a while since I left off reading the Lucas Davenport books but I don't think that it is just me. This installment seems to have a different air about it. The scenes with his family did not flow or seem very realistic to me. Even so, Davenport is still one of my favorite crime fighters!
RudyJohnson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another Great Book by a Super Author. I will give Mr. Sandford credit for keeping his creative writing skills hone. In my opinion, he did allow himself to fall into the trap of a number of these mass market mystery/thriller authors by just keep cranking out these second rate stories every 2 months. In the Invisible Prey, I was impressed with Sandford's ability to bring out the world of art and antiques into the story while weaving in various murders that happened over a number of years. The readers will find Detective Lucas Davenport investigating the Minnesota State Senator Burt Kline. The senator has been accused of having sex with a minor. Special note: the book contains an overly abundance of foul language which I don't care for. I felt the story held its own without the constant splattering of offensive language. Overall the characters in the story were well developed and along the way Sandford dropped a sprinkling of humor which I always enjoy in a story. The story is a great beach read.
Bookmarque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not a bad go-round. Once the penny dropped for me as to whom the villains were I sometimes get exasperated waiting for the hero to figure it out, but not this time. Davenport put it together fairly quickly and it was really fun and suspenseful watching it come together. Sandford did a great job teasing that out, but not so much that it became boring. The `ah ha¿ moments were some to savor. Another thing worth savoring was the time when the criminals knew Davenport was on to them and they started to plot against one another. Waiting to see who would act first was really a fun experience and timed very well. One thing I was a bit miffed at is how things ended for Jane. She deserved more suffering and it was too quick for how much Sandford made us hate her. Better emotional pay off was really needed. I did like the fact that Weather and the brats were largely ignored though.
twotays on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fast paced, police procedural. Not his best prey. Gotta love that Davenport !!!!!!
ctfrench on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lucas Davenport, special agent for Minnesota¿s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is trying to deal with the sensitive investigation of a local politician who has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a minor when his boss calls him in on another case that occurred in one of St. Paul¿s richest neighborhoods. Two elderly women have been found bludgeoned to death in a home filled with antiques. Although robbery is the suspected motive, not much has been taken, so Lucas asks his intern, Sandy, to cross-match crimes of a like nature. What she discovers takes Lucas back to a cold case and has him researching the antiquities venue as he follows a twisting investigation that leads him away from the killers. Although this is not the best in the Prey series, it is a good read. The two plots at times seemed to compete with one another, which made the read seem somewhat convoluted. Sandford is strong with characterization and the addition of Sandy, the intern, was a bonus, along with Detective Flowers, both of whom this reader hopes to see in future books. Sandford¿s tendency to drop designer names grows tiring at times (can¿t someone just once wear a simple shirt and pants?). One major disappointment for this reader is Davenport¿s laid-back mellowness compared to the earlier books, where he was sharper, with a dangerous edge.
amf0001 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sandford is the consumate professional and this book glides by with ease. It's a keeper but I have a few quibbles - as the 17th (!) in the series, it was slightly more formulaic than past books and Sandford doesn't know what to do with the Davenport's children, esp the wonderful Letty West, introduced to us in Naked Prey and woefully under utilized ever since. However, you are in the hands of professional and you can relax and enjoy the prose and the occassional witty description that raises this series way above the rest.
NovelBookworm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ok, now I just gotta say, I'm probably imagining this, but here goes anyway. About two years ago, I got an idea for an "Author's Quilt". I contacted lots of my favorite authors through email, and asked them if I mailed them a square of fabric, pen and return envelope, if they'd sign it. I sort of ran out of time, and to date haven't sent all of them out yet, but one of the authors I contacted was John Sandford. He was a bit more elusive than most, and the person I corresponded with pretty much told me that he wouldn't be able to do that, however if I took the fabric to a book signing, Sandford would most certainly sign it. Since Sandford had a book signing the next evening in a mystery book store in Thousand Oaks, I headed to T. Oaks. I wasn't able to go to the signing, but I wrote him a letter, and asked the woman in the store to give it to him. In the letter I said that I was a quilter, and described what I'd planned to make. A few days later, I received the fabric square in the mail and put it away for later use. Fast forward two years, I just finished reading the newest Lucas Davenport book, and quilts are all over this book. Quilters, quilt groups, antique quilts, forged antique quilts, along with the usual murder, mystery and mayhem of Sandford books. Hmmm....coincidence? Or perhaps....inspiration?......hmmm... (Oh...and the book's pretty good, typical of the Davenport/Prey series, I enjoyed it.....)
mrtall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Invisible Prey is yet another solid, enjoyable entry in John Sandford¿s Lucas Davenport series. This one¿s a bit caperish, centering on a series of carefully-planned art-and-antiques robberies (with some murder thrown in). A subplot involving a politician who¿s been, umm, friendly with an underage girl intertwines with the main story, and it¿s good for some, ah, release of narrative tension. Anyway, Sandford lets on very early whodunit, as is often the case in this series. I see this as one of Sandford¿s great strengths. He¿s an effortlessly confident storyteller, which allows his other strengths as a writer to shine above and beyond the simple plot. Foremost among these, I think, is Sandford¿s ability to portray his villains. For much of Invisible Prey we readers spend more time with the killers than we do with Davenport and the other cops. And it works: he manages to characterize his bad guys as ordinary walk-of-life types who never the less discover the thrill of the kill. He¿s also very good at portraying the ways they eventually mess up, make crucial mistakes, and spiral downward into desperation. I don¿t know how realistic this is ¿ most criminals must be far stupider than Sandford¿s ¿ but it makes for fun reading.Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was another intriguing Davenport novel, an intricate mystery. It was hard to put down (trying to anticipate how in the world Lucas would unravel the clues and solve the crimes). I highly recommend it.
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johnwillie More than 1 year ago
A very good book and easy to read
RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
I love “That Flippin’ Flowers.” He may not be the main show or even a Romeo, but he’s one hilarious bastard. He may need to spend a bit more time at the range, and there’s the distinct possibility he’s more interested in writing and fly fishing than he is detective work, but that just makes him memorable and interesting. The usual suspects populate INVISIBLE PREY, so if you’re familiar with Lucas Davenport and Weather and Kidd, you’ll feel right at home. But if this is your first rodeo, then I should probably ask you “Where the hell have you been for the past 25 years?” By my calculations there are 24 Davenport novels and 8 Flowers novels, plus you have the Kidd novels, and yeah, I’m probably missing a few along with some screws. The pace jerked me more than a socket wrench; the bodies stacked up faster than a New York City morgue; there were antiques and robberies and a few dichotomies; and smack dab in the middle stood Lucas Davenport in all of his infinite glory. Was it the best Prey novel I’ve ever read? It’s really hard to say, because I’ve read them in spurts and squirts, but it’s a damn good read if you’re into that sort of thing. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
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