Twisted Prey, by John Sandford



*Note: I received an advance copy of this book for review.*

Twisted Prey is the 28th (holy crap) entry in the Prey Series, and let me be right up front in saying that I have read and loved every single one of them, and I will also be the first to say that they are pretty darn ridiculous. In a fantastic way.

Our hero, Lucas Davenport is a cop. No, more than a cop, he’s smarter, tougher, richer, handsomer, and better dressed than you. He’s a millionaire a couple of dozen times over, drives a Porsche, wears fancy Italian suits and shoes, but what he loves more than anything in the world is catching bad guys. So what I’m saying is, he’s Batman. Unlike Bruce Wayne, however, Davenport has worked his way up from the bottom, starting as a lowly detective in Minneapolis. Through a couple of decades of solid police work, a massive body count, and a whole lotta dirt dug up on bigwig political types, he’s risen through the ranks and is now a US Marshall, with all of this great nation as his jurisdiction.

So when United States Senator Porter Smalls is involved in a car crash just outside of Washington DC that just might be an assassination attempt, Davenport is the guy to call. It doesn’t take long for Taryn Grant, Smalls’ biggest rival, and Davenport’s One Bad Guy That Got Away to become the number one suspect. Taryn is a sociopath, but she’s also very, very smart, and super wealthy, and is probably one of the few people who could be Davenport’s Joker….er, his equal.

Davenport knows that Taryn is behind the attempted murder. Taryn knows that Davenport knows that she’s behind it. Davenport knows that Taryn knows that he knows that she’s the mastermind, and that he’ll have to work this case with a large target on his back.

It’s a fun, fast, utterly delicious cat-and-mouse game. Twisted Prey follows the standard Prey template: a crazy crime, Lucas being summoned, Lucas rounding up his posse of bad-guy-catchers, a few more bodies thrown on the pile, some super-smart detectiving and some kind of resolution that may or may not be completely above-board, but is extremely satisfying nonetheless.

For all that, Sandford manages to keep it fresh. Even though Davenport is a man’s man fantasy of masculinity and over-the-top testosterone, the women are just as smart, tough, and wisecracking as the guys. Sandford’s dialogue is some of the best in the game, and every time I pick up a new Prey book (did I mention there are 28 of them so far???), I feel like I’m hanging out with old friends.

As great as that is, it’s also kind of problematic for the author, in terms of moving the series forward. Because Lucas is now a Marshall, he’s not tied to Minnesota. Which is a necessary step (how many psycho serial killers can one small-ish state hold?), but the usual cast of characters wasn’t around, and I found myself missing them. There wasn’t enough banter with his wife Weather, who was back in Minneapolis while Davenport was kickin hineys and takin names in Washington DC. I missed the oh-so-cleverly named Del Capslock, and Sherrill, and Sister Elle, and the rest of the regulars.

But who am I kidding, I’m going to keep reading, because even when new people come in, the cars are still fast, the women are still gorgeous, the mysteries are still smart, and Lucas is still a teensy bit psycho (in other words, just my type).
The Nerd’s Rating: FOUR HAPPY NEURONS (and a Range Rover Evoque. Because this winter is never-ending, and I’m ready to let my hair blow in the breeze).



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