Phantom Prey, by John Sandford

The infiniteenth installment in John Sandford’s “Prey” series finds Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension officer Lucas Davenport butting heads with his superiors over security preparations for the Republican National Convention (which pretty well fixes the story in real history). Davenport keeps telling them that they need to take terror threats seriously, while all his superiors seem to be able to reply is, “Bush is an [expletive deleted].”

This is about as profound an observation on Minnesota politics as I’ve ever read, and I give Sandford full marks for it.

But that’s not what the main plot of Phantom Prey is about. The main plot concerns Alyssa Austin, a wealthy recent widow, whose daughter, Frances, has recently disappeared. The police don’t seem to be giving the case a high priority, so Davenport’s wife Weather, a friend of Alyssa’s, asks him to look into it.

Very quickly Lucas gets shot in the leg by a man accompanied by a mysterious, unidentified, beautiful woman. And people who knew Frances, largely members of the “Goth” community, start showing up murdered, often after being seen with that same woman.

About half-way through, we discover who the murderer is, and then tension rises through watching Davenport try to put the pieces together in time to stop a killer who’s gone completely out of control.

I liked this book better than some of the recent entries in the series, which have dwelt unnecessarily (I thought) on kinky and sadistic sex practices. There was plenty of sex and depravity (and bad language) in this book, but they were kept more offstage. Also one scene took place in Cherry Grove Township, near Wanamingo. This should have been “near Kenyon” (my home town), because Cherry Grove Township is generally considered a Kenyon township rather than a Wanamingo one, but I always enjoy a reference to my childhood stomping grounds under any circumstances.

Also it was a great relief that the New Age religious adherent in the book was not portrayed as wise and possibly in touch with vast, glorious spiritual resources. The New Ager in this book is just plain wrong, and there’s a (faint) suggestion that Christianity might be a whole lot better choice.

So I liked Phantom Prey. A solid, page-turning entry in the series. Recommended for adults.

One thought on “Phantom Prey, by John Sandford”

  1. I think I know what you mean, but I have to laugh at the idea of a killer, a multi-murderer, who has gone completely out of control. Is murder not out of control enough?

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