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The Prey Series of Novels By John Sandford

Updated on December 24, 2014
John Sandford spun off the Virgil Flowers character from the Prey Series to create another six novels that are reviewed as just as formidable as the Prey series.
John Sandford spun off the Virgil Flowers character from the Prey Series to create another six novels that are reviewed as just as formidable as the Prey series.
Mark Harmon starred in the movie Certain Prey. He played the role of Lucas Davenport
Mark Harmon starred in the movie Certain Prey. He played the role of Lucas Davenport

Sandford is responsible for delivering 21 books in the prey series of novels. many of these have been selected for the new york times best sellers list

The author John Sandford has taken his enormous talent and created a series of books identified as the Prey series. This succession of just over 20 different novels includes extraordinary works of fiction praised continuously by the New York Times. All have had the pleasure of being listed on the NY Times Best Sellers List. The published narratives are a never ending tale of the exploits of Lucas Davenport. Davenport is a celebrated success according to some of the highest critics around the nation. Some of the most important are the fans. Each one is a fan favorite and every reader looks forward to the next one Sandford has coming their way.

The succession of fiction based sagas labeled as the Prey Series definitely deserves a discussion. Any devoted reader to detectives chasing murderers with clever plots and so much more, must certainly take the time to look into these particularly remarkable written works. Without a doubt, they will not be disappointed.

The chronicles are undeniably some of the most insightful and exciting imaginary tales on the market today. One of the most appealing traits for all of these is any follower gets more than the average scenario typical of similar types of books. Readers in love with great detective mysteries are never disappointed by any one of the Prey Series publications. Each is special for a number of reasons. No one reading one is capable of stopping at just one.


This is the progressive tale of the encounters of Detective Lucas Davenport played out in living color and full of detail. The written works of art are best described as engaging and compelling. All are so much more than the average detective novel. In truth, the story telling is remarkable. The formula or ingredients used to produce the sequence of novels is fantastic and attracts countless fans with each addition to the succession of books.

Start reading the series anywhere along the line

Stepping into any one of these at number 5 or 6 of the 21 in print does not decrease the satisfaction of reading this incredible writing. While the progression of the character is actually best understood beginning at book number one and chronologically following them, the background and other material needed to appreciate the current storyline is present in all. Sandford folds everything needed into each to give contextual info necessary to get the most out of the Davenport novels.

The book feels like reality

One of the things making every individual book unique is each displays the personal growth and other very realistic encounters with friends and family. A lot of readers are surprised by how “genuine to real life” they feel even though they are fictional.

The settings are mainly based in the Twin Cities of St Paul and Minneapolis Minnesota. Text includes detailed dialogue of icons, landmarks, famous residents and other inputs making the content unique. This is not the only criteria separating these particular pieces of fiction from the competitors.

Competition downfalls compared to Prey

There are counterparts in the same genre building similar content, but with something missing. They have a series of novels following the same character in each one. Though, one enormous difference is little if any personal change takes place for the main character. There is no growth along the way as a variety of events are unfolding throughout various plots and themes. An array of adventures is a possibility, but the main character never grows older or gets grey hair.

Another item has been identified as a hurdle for the competition. They fail to show a uniqueness out of a series. Most fall short because the account of events is basically the same for each one. The series reads as the same book over and over again. There are tiny and minute differences, but not enough to engage real fans of detective mystery series. Readers leave after reading one or two of a five part chain. They lose interest and move on to another author. This is not true with the enthusiasts reading about Lucas Davenport.

Some of these do not have the resources like CSI crime labs and other tools to solve the crime. Several are written to include small towns that rarely see outsiders. Functioning with a special innovative team put together by the governor makes managing it easier.

Main character

Lucas Davenport is an exceptionally complicated persona and creating him in this vein makes the Prey novel series tick. This is certainly a man who truly believes in the phrase “the means justifies the end result”. He interacts daily with some of the worst evil in this world. Chasing murderers, rapists, child molesters, pimps and the lot make him the detective readers root for to win. You hold your breath because of how close to skirting around the law he comes at times. He believes in justice for victims.

Following his career

The progression of work follows his career from a trainee at the police academy to an amazing promotion to head of the Minnesota BCI. (this is described as a state FBI agency) The governor has him personally connected to his office. Lucas’ number is on speed dial and he handles it all in stride. He is capable of taking orders as well as giving them. His Achilles is the belief he has the ability to determine when ignoring the rules are in the best interest of a victim.

Family life

He is single, with a couple of girlfriends here and there, but eventually marriage comes his way. Kids are next and through it all is an evolution and emergence of a strong and confident figure devout followers have come to love. The imaginings delivered to devoted fans is more than the average fantasy fiction of a detective’s life.

He also is fortunate enough to become a millionaire somewhere along the storyline. The writer makes him a rough and tough detective who is also extremely intelligent and very clever. In a smooth twist he adds the prosperity of money. He goes from driving the Ram pick-up truck to a Porsche. The expensive car is always a tension point with other characters.

Bouts of depression

Davenport suffers from horrible bouts of depression. In more than one plot he considered taking his own life. Bringing loved ones into his life such as his wife Winter, adopting a child and a new baby all aid towards healing the affliction. He avoids professional help, but does dabble with it briefly. As an officer of the law having this type of medical issue on a resume means life as he knows it as a cop is over.

Getting rich

One of the unfortunate symptoms for sufferers of depression is insomnia. An irony the writer played on was this sleeplessness made him a millionaire. He knows computer coding and took the time to develop software to aid in police officer weapons training. The sale reinforced his self-esteem, along with his bank account while affording the courage to branch out even further. Crafting game software from his imagination and using the expertise for private companies makes him even more money. Life is very good for Lucas financially, but he yearns to remain in law enforcement as a career. Retiring and living large on the money is not in the cards.

He has a history of being kidnapped, shot, and tortured along with one serious encounter ending in a facial disfigurement. He met his wife Winter in the emergency room. She is a plastic surgeon who has performed surgical treatment on him more than once. All of the surgical efforts were after encounters with the criminal element and some were life threatening.

One particular incident put him close to death and a colleague of hers was called in. There have of course been broken bones and healing cuts and bruises. Though, there have also been gunshot wounds and even an emergency tracheotomy.

Chasing the bad guy

He gets “his” man no matter what. There are a number of times when he tip toes around and skirts the edge of the law to make this outcome happen. Davenport is gripping and fascinating in his personal struggles with past demons. Amazingly they somehow tied him into forming his identity. This includes who he is professionally and personally. A main role dominated by a character with forceful traits evokes human emotions in readers. This tactic is without doubt to the writer’s advantage. These are tools to form better plots and storylines in the Prey series of work.

The bad guys show contempt and hatred for Lucas with a reputation around the Twin Cities as a badass cop. His reputation precedes him. The streets of the city are where he shines and his true nature shows. His view of the city and their scum is always pessimistic.

Nothing gets in the way of him making certain appalling, malicious and at times roguish individuals get what they rightly deserve. Lots of times this is accomplished by turning their own kind of vermin actions against them. Terrifying criminals into submission is not past the homicide detective. Countless plots show the eye for an eye rule takes care of itself without his hand on the gun.

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Virgil Flowers has rated his own set of murder mystery detective stories

Supporting characters

The supporting cast for the detective is a unique team of male and female police officers with origins from every nook and cranny of the population. These are men and women coworkers and while policing beside him have come to respect his judgment. They are all friends first.

Combinations of people in the law enforcement profession from all over the country make up his team. In later books they are with him as part of the BCI team answering only to the governor of the state of Minnesota. They complement his strengths and weaknesses. Where he has pessimism there are team members with optimism. This compels a number of readers to identify with the personality traits of at least one of the characters.

The officers respect the advice received and believe in him to the ultimate extent. The melting pot of people is amazing. They never hide behind the main detective, but aid in the support he needs in his quests for criminals. These are not the type of individuals to simply follow him along blindly. They all have an intelligence demonstrated when needed most and are not afraid to disagree with him.

The men and women police detectives that make up the team who follow Lucas around the Twin Cities have all skirted rules and the law to help him get the job done. Additionally, nearly all have barely survived attempts on their life from many of the scoundrels in the stories.

Two roles stand out and take a front seat in a number of situations throughout the books. These are detective Virgil Flowers and Winter Davenport. Winter Davenport is Lucas’s girlfriend who eventually becomes his wife and the mother of his children.

Virgil Flowers

Flowers is a complicated man. The outside appearance is a ruse. It is quiet, unassuming and really nothing special. This is a façade which has served him very well in the past. His background includes undercover work. This enhances what he brings to the table as part of the team. This man is bursting with a life driving force. He brings this fire and ice temperament to the work and hits the target every time. Of all the team members he is the closest character to Lucas professionally and personally.

Beneath the surface is an enormous amount of intelligence. Virgil’s work under Davenport is mostly solving homicides outside of the metropolitan city of Minneapolis or St. Paul. Rural areas around the state of Minnesota in small towns and cities seem to be where he fits in better than Lucas.

Virgil has a religious background mixed with being a former undercover drug cop. He always dresses unconventional in cowboy boots and hard rock t shirts of little known bands which surprises suspects and makes for interesting conversation.

Bound to his duty as a police office and detective in his own right, the man is exceptionally intelligent. An insightful college educated writer in his own right. There are several storylines where he has published hunting and fishing books. He plays in a band and is always looking for love, not a girlfriend. He is a romantic believing in true love.

A remarkable combination of a city and country boy all wrapped under one umbrella is a great description of the persona of Flowers.

Virgil Flowers series of books

The creative writing crafting Virgil has developed an enormous fan following. The response was so great Sandford broke out one to produce another series of work with detective Virgil Flowers as a key element or major character player in the literature. The story setting for the works of fiction is still Minnesota and an occasional visit from Davenport is squeezed in.

Lucas visits the Virgil Flowers in Dark of the Moon, Heat Lightning, Rough Country, Bad Blood and Shock Wave. For the most part Virgil has a rather significant role in these novels. Detective Davenport is briefly scattered throughout the text.

The novels usually have Virgil outside of the Twin Cities. Lucas is the boss sending Virgil to work alone, usually undercover, on a major case outside of the city. Virgil has a way of thinking which closely matches Lucas. If and when help is needed, it is always on the way.

The locations set for his stories are usually a rural countryside. This is where he feels at ease. He is secure with the farmers, small town living and slower paced lifestyle outside of the Twin Cities. His experiences in his youth prepared him for the roles thrust upon him.

Lucas takes advantage of his ability to blend in and the smarts behind the façade. Lucas does not have the patience or temperament to make him the best choice.

Flowers is one tough cookie. Working undercover serves him well.

This detective has also skirted the law in a number of circumstances, but always catches a bad guy in the end. Just when a reader starts to like Virgil, Sandford throws a loop into the mix and gives you something that makes you dislike him. The twist is never anything major and the dislike doesn’t last for long. He recovers the flaw quickly. This makes Sandford’s characters more than a couple of sentences of description on piece of paper and moves them closer to being real which is amazing in works of fiction. This is one great way to build an audience.

As a writer Sandford combines character descriptions that make it difficult to determine which are antagonist and which are protagonist. Reading the novels evoke feelings for villains that are compassion while opinions for heroes can sway between admiration and disapproval. This makes for a terrific writer of mystery fiction.

Winter Davenport is a more than interesting character.

Winter Davenport is a strong character that marries Lucas and calms his storm whenever possible. As a surgeon working at one of the biggest children’s hospital in the country, she is a wonderful wife and mother. Lucas and Winter have a baby boy and adopt a troubled teenager.

Winter is a main character of one of the books of Prey series. The troubled teen that they come to love and adopt as a daughter was also a center piece personality for a selection of the chain of books.

One of the best innovative ideas used for the couple is they are not beautiful people. They are portrayed as less than normal. Troubled and full of ups and downs in their lives, their marriage and personal demons. He is described as disfigured by several scars on his neck and face and she has a noticeable crooked nose, despite being a plastic surgeon.

Even when a reader begins the series at book four and still have enough background information to seriously enjoy the story without reading the preceding three books.

This is difficult to pull off, but Sandford writes alarmingly good enough to make it happen. Though, having the storyline knowledge from the first three makes the read smoother and avoids any questions for some of the info here and there.

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Dialogue and storyline

The dialogue and storyline created by Sandford “keep it real”. This is a wonderful way to portray stories that are gripping and compelling for readers. Characters move through the plot in a purposeful and determined way that will still keep readers guessing at the “who done it”.

The writer produces a fiction novel absolutely believable and makes readers wonder if this is really fiction. This produces an enormously great read for detective mystery. Having wonderful exchanges of communication between individuals with a role in a book is a key component to success. A remarkable interaction contributes to the feeling of reality and conveys a lot of the story without wasting any time and effort on the reader’s part.

Conversation between characters is very well written and detailed. There are even moments of political incorrectness when are necessary to get a point across and keep the action real and focused.

Every plot for each Prey piece has several subplots well thought out and easy to follow. This is the type of mystery an audience craves to stay interested in reading more.

A great example is a narrative to reveal how supporting characters survive death threats and attempts on their life from rogues they are chasing through the city is wonderful for plot curves. How do these types of people think and feel faced with this type of pressure on a daily basis? Sharing these feelings through words which exchange the ideas with ease to a reader is important. It lets the average person look inside of places and things never really seen. This type of creative writing creates suspense and drama for the reader inside of the story ideas and makes a reader into a fan if done correctly.

There is a common theme found in all of these books underlying the main plot. The main plot is the chronicle the life and times of detective Davenport. This shared thread of info from Sandford follows Lucas’ career from the first day he came to the homicide department to his elevated status of answering only to the governor of the state. He remains the same person inside for the most part.

His is part rake and a little rogue while a tiny bit of angel wrapping it all up. Lucas evolves jobwise and personally, but is still him with those who know Lucas best. The politics of his position within the force grows as does the politics of the profession. With his politically incorrect personality there is always drama wherever he will go.

Lucas Davenport pursues despicable homicidal criminals in and around the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul. The state of Minnesota would not be safe without this dedicated and determined homicide detective as described in the Prey novels.

Although Davenport is the focal point of stories his supporting staff of characters in the Prey novels is by no means minimal. They are so much more than background noise written in lots of similar tales. The personalities, talents and input from these people are vital and key to the success of the works of writing.

The tales unfold the beauty and nature of the state of Minnesota. He lives and is a detective in the city of Minneapolis. Despite the fact lots of his police involved business takes him everywhere around this enormous state. There are other large metropolis areas outside of the big city limits where the great detective is needed to resolve a crime, typically murder.

In conclusion

Books like Phantom Prey and Mortal Prey have titles which fail to reveal the true story of how detective Davenport hunts down his “prey” which happen to be felons or evil doers committing murder. This is a cop who makes certain they are put away for a long time each and every time. Yet, the two word titles do give readers a peek into what, where or how the story will unfold.

With titles starting out with words like Invisible, Storm, Buried and Chosen dedicated readers learn to guess what will be revealed in the theme. Some readers simply could care less knowing the read will be extraordinary no matter what the title.

Writers with the ability to produce surprising thoughts and feelings which are exceptional, create brilliant stories. These are writers that take a fiction story and weave it in and out of reality and deliver extraordinary character and plot lines which are captivating at every turn.

© 2012 smcopywrite


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    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      Thanks for writing this hub. Had not heard of these books before, but they do sound interesting.

      Voted up.