Gathering Prey coverIn his 25th appearance, Lucas Davenport of Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension crosses state and jurisdictional lines as he hunts a gang of vicious killers – more akin to a demonic cult, and prone to torturing their victims – led by an enigmatic figurehead, ‘Pilate.’ Not only is Lucas’s life – and job – on the line; his daughter, Letty, knew one of the victims, and her stubbornness – inherited from her father – puts her in Pilate’s sights.

GATHERING PREY exudes the well-oiled plot mechanics, bursts of violence, and sizzling dialogue that have established Sandford as one of the genre’s best. His latest thriller sets its rip-roaring pace from its opening pages, when Letty Davenport buys a meal for a pair of buskers, Henry and Skye, and learns about Pilate – a drug dealer and killer, who has amassed a mob of followers who share his predilection for murder.  They’ve claimed ten victims so far; an eleventh is added to that tally when Henry is crucified and castrated, and left for dead. Months after their first meeting, Skye reaches out to Letty, who can’t confirm Henry’s fate, but fears the worst. And while Letty a wholly capable and independent young woman, her doggedness can’t match her father’s decades of experience in law enforcement – and his reach. Once again, Lucas Davenport is on the case; and this time, following Letty’s encounter with the sadistic Pilate, it’s personal.

Davenport’s investigation takes him to a variety of locales, and leads to alliances with a variety of faceless sheriffs, deputies and investigators which is the novel’s underlying problem; both its heroes and villains, save for Lucas and Letty (who benefit from extensive continuity) are innocuous – just names on the page, spared of any depth. In keeping GATHERING PREY lean and mean, Sandford has perhaps excavated a tad too much characterization; so when the stakes rise and lives are on the line, we’re not too bothered – we don’t really know these people. Pilate too, merciless as he is, feels more like a facsimile of every other murderous foe readers have encountered. There is little to separate him from the villains we’ve encountered before, which is disappointing.

GATHERING PREY moves at a fast clip, and is undeniably entertaining, though ultimately forgettable. Long-time Sandford fans will lap up the latest ‘Prey’ novel, and are sure to enjoy their hours spent with Lucas, who is as much a stalwart of contemporary crime as Harry Bosch. New readers mightn’t be ensnared by this one; but that shouldn’t discourage them from checking out Sandford’s vast backlist.

3 Stars Good

ISBN: 9780399168796
Format: Hardback
Pages: 416
Imprint: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publish Date: 28-Apr-2015
Country of Publication: United States

One thought on “Review: Gathering Prey by John Sandford

  1. I’m very behind in my Sandford reading (haven’t read any for a couple of years), but I love his Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers’ series!

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