Adventure In Reading - John Sandford - Broken Prey
The Author and This Book
In 1944 John Sandford was born as John Camp in Iowa. He attended the University of Iowa and became a journalist. He won several awards (including a Pulitzer Prize) and worked as a journalist until about 1989. He began writing the Prey series and the first of the novels was published in 1989. There are currently 26 books in the Prey series - the latest will be released in April of this year. He will have published 40 books of fiction and 3 of non fiction
This book was published in 2005. It has about 325 pages.
As with many of the books in the Prey series, a suspect is introduced immediately in the first chapter. After the introduction the first murder victim shows up. The killer leaves the remains postured in a way to best display the horrible manner in which they had accomplished the murder.
Initially Lucas Davenport of Minnesota BCI flounders in his attempts to identify and track down the killer. The story takes us through several ideas but the investigation loses steam with the passage of time.
A second murder occurs. Although the second murder is radically different than the first, there are similarities that leave no doubt they were both committed by the same person.
Another set of people - a couple who apparently doesn't do much besides have sexual relations - is introduced into the book. This couple remains in the book sporadically even though it doesn't appear that they have any relationship to the murder.
The authorities deduce that they have a serial killer to find and pressures mount because of it. Several times during the book, curves are thrown at the investigators that cause them to change the direction of their inquiries.
Unlike many of the Prey series, this book ends with a series of short vignettes about persons and the crimes that tie together many of the loose ends that Sandford leaves lying around during the book.
With the killing of a young woman in a suburb of Minneapolis, Lucas is called upon with a degree of urgency to find the killer. However, even though he involves Sloan - one of this regulars in the series - answers do not come close to appearing for them.
His wife Weather has an opportunity to go to England for several months and decides to take as much of the family with her as she can. It leaves Lucas to fend for himself. She has forced him onto a diet and he uses her absence as an opportunity to cheat on his diet occasionally.
They have about admitted defeat and shoved the case to the background when a murder occurs in a outlying area south of the city. However, this murder is of a man. The condition of the body causes Lucas to make a connection between the two murders and the first murder is again made very active and put on a front burner. Collateral damage occurred in the second murder in that the victim's young son was also murdered. The young son, however, was not mutilated but was simply left to die on the kitchen floor.
Being Lucas and not wanting to worry his wife, who is in England, he begins keeping parts of his investigation to himself and his staff.
The search for a solution leads Lucas into a gay biker bar and the habitat of three prostitutes. That lead seems to not lead anywhere but after much activity on the parts of Sloan and Lucas, an additional lead is developed that include the strange individual introduced in chapter 1. In pursuing that lead, Lucas begins to run into violent reactions on the part of suspected parties and suffers a broken nose.
Gradually the attention of the investigators turns to a mental hospital but the obvious suspects are housed in impenetrable quarters in the hospital. It becomes clear to Lucas and Sloan that the secure quarters in the hospital have at least one leak. The search is on to find that leak. During the search, more help is called for from other Prey characters - that of Shrake and Jenkins.
Dramatic action begins to occur and Lucas is shot. He winds up in a cast from shoulder to wrist and is reasonably incapacitated as the books ends. When Weather catches wind of what is going on, she appears in the book only briefly before she is satisfied that the wounds Lucas has suffered are not life threatening. She returns to England.
At the end of the book, there is much mayhem and blood and gore. However, the good guys triumph.
As with most of Sandford books, he is able to introduce tidbits of comments and hobbies that cause his characters to take on the persona of real people. He is able to make his cast of characters come alive and look like normal people. They make mistakes Sometimes the mistakes are huge. Sometimes they cover up their mistakes. Sometimes they are unable to cover them up and the world sees them.
Sandford is able to have the main characters in his books have quirky thoughts of the type that most of us have at times and we are able to then identify ourselves in the books.
However, this book is a little too circuitous for me and I'd rate is as a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.