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08 May 2014

John Sandford: Field of Prey

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Bring up the bodies from the "Black Hole"
Hilary Mantel may have already used the title "Bring up the Bodies" but John Sandford has taken this literally in the plot of his latest Lucas Davenport thriller.

Teenager Layton Carlson Jr, of Red Wing, Minnesota, thought he had found a perfect secluded spot to make out with his girlfriend - an abandoned farmyard in the middle of cornfields. It might have been perfect, so private and quiet, but there was a really bad smell. Layton mentioned the smell to a friend in the Sheriff's office and soon they find a body of a woman in a well, then another and then another... at least twenty, and some are only the skulls.

The media is hysterical (calling it "The Black Hole") and the pressure on the police and politicians becomes overwhelming. Eventually, after a dramatic development in the case, Lucas Davenport, an agent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is brought in to find the killer. Davenport has seen many serial killers in his time and it is clear that the killer has to be local and could have been active for twenty years.

With most of his staff off on various assignments of their own, Lucas has to work closely with Catrin Mattins, the lead investigator from the local police. Catrin is smart but reportedly not that easy to work with. Sandford also introduces another unexpected associate who helps him with the case.

John Sandford has reached his three score years and ten when most authors would be considering co-authorships - I don't believe that is the case although this one is not as snappy as some of his earlier books. This is #24 in the Prey series when authors have to do something different so the series doesn't out of steam. In Silken Prey it was a case with political implications, which IMHO worked well. In this book the emphasis starts with the body count, which verges on the unbelievable and stays there for most of the story as the body count increases.

I enjoyed Silken Prey a lot more than Field of Prey, but because it is still a John Sandford page turner I am sure that many dedicated Sandford fans will again be burning the midnight oil with this one.

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