In Thriller Award–winner Sandford’s lackluster 29th thriller featuring Deputy U.S. Marshal Lucas Davenport (after 2018’s Twisted Prey), New Orleans attorney and loan shark Roger Smith hires enforcer Clayton Deese to send a violent message to Howell Paine after Paine refuses to pay back the thousands he borrowed. The assignment goes awry when Paine resists and manages to bite off “like a feral tomcat, wrenching his head from side to side... a half-dollar-sized chunk of meat” from Deese’s leg. The cops come for Deese later that day, leading to the thug’s arrest on federal racketeering charges. After Deese fails to show up for his trial and his ankle monitor stops working, two of Davenport’s colleagues are sent to Louisiana to track down Deese. They don’t find him, but they do discover the fugitive had buried multiple bodies in the woods behind his home. That the remains were partially cannibalized before burial brings in Davenport, whose political connections enable him to choose his own assignments. Davenport pursues Deese across the country to Las Vegas, Nev., but the plot never gathers much steam, and an unrealistic twist in the final confrontation with Deese is another minus. Fans will hope for a return to form next time. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (Apr.)
[Sandford is] his usual entertaining self in this hard-core adventure....Davenport is an inspired creation.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
“The Prey novels are wildly entertaining with their clever plotting, mordant humor, and smart-ass dialogue. This one doesn't break the pattern.”—Booklist
Praise for John Sandford’s Prey Novels
“Relentlessly swift...genuinely suspenseful...excellent.”—Los Angeles Times
“Sandford is a writer in control of his craft.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Excellent...compelling...everything works.”—USA Today
“Grip-you-by-the-throat thrills...a hell of a ride.”—Houston Chronicle
“Crackling, page-turning tension...great scary fun.”—The New York Daily News
“Enough pulse-pounding, page-turning excitement to keep you up way past bedtime.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“One of the most engaging characters in contemporary fiction.”—Detroit News
“Positively chilling.”—St. Petersburg Times
“Just right for fans of The Silence of the Lambs.”—Booklist
“One of the most horrible villains this side of Hannibal.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Ice-pick chills...excruciatingly tense...a double-pumped roundhouse of a thriller.”—Kirkus Reviews
Lucas Davenport goes west.
But first he goes south, called from his home in Minnesota to the Louisiana swamp where hired killer Clayton Deese buried at least five people (the total is actually higher) before coming a cropper seven months ago with his latest target, Howell Paine. Things went sideways, sending Paine to the hospital and sentencing Deese to an ankle monitor he sliced through three days ago. Local FBI agent Sandro Tremanty, discovering Deese's absence, wants help from the U.S. marshals in rounding up his quarry so that he can implicate loan shark Roger Smith, who'd hired him to hurt Paine and send a warning to his other debtors. And there's another reason the feds would like to get Deese off the streets: His experiments in homicide have given him a taste for human flesh. Soon enough, Lucas, together with marshals Rae Givens and Bob Matees, has picked up Deese's trail, which leads first to Marina Del Rey, where he's joined his half brother, Marion Beauchamps, and Jayden Nast, "a guy with guns, who hates cops," in a brutal home-invasion crew. Conscientious detective work brings Lucas and the LAPD within a whisker of catching Deese, but he slips away from them and heads to Las Vegas with Genesis Cox, the blonde he's picked up, and John Rogers Cole, another accomplice. Deese and his cohort must constantly pull new jobs to support their gambling and drug habits, and it's hard to imagine their eluding the law for very long. But there are deeper threats to their racket. Roger Smith, who knows plenty about Deese, realizes he has every reason to get rid of him, and there turns out to be no honor among the thieves closer to home either.
Professionally entertaining, with lots of realistically frustrating false hopes—though it's hard to worry very much about the leading question here: Will the franchise hero (Twisted Prey, 2018, etc.) succeed in bringing the crooks to justice before they wipe each other off the face of the Earth?