Tag Archives: Letty Davenport

‘Gathering Prey,’ by John Sandford

They also had to deal with the question of whether Minnesotans were actually aliens. Terry brought it up: “You know what? Everybody I seen around here has big heads. You seen that?” They did, on their runs into town for food and beer. Minnesotans all had big heads. When they spotted a guy with a cowboy hat and a small head, they asked him if he was from Minnesota, and he told them no, he was from Montana.

Another John Sandford “Prey” book. Cause for rejoicing at my house. Sandford may not be the greatest creator of vivid characters in the world, or the greatest writer of dialogue, but when it comes to the art of ratcheting up the tension in a police thriller, while keeping the tone light with timely injections of cop humor, nobody comes close to him. He does what he does better than anybody.

Gathering Prey, the umpty-fifth Prey novel, starts in California, where hero Lucas Davenport’s adopted daughter, Letty, is attending Stanford University. She meets a couple of buskers, Skye and Henry, and befriends them. They mention to her a man they call “Pilot” who (Skye informs her) is “the devil.”

Some time later, back home in St. Paul, Letty gets a call from Skye. She’s on her way to Minnesota from the biker rally in Sturgis, SD. Henry has disappeared, and he had been talking to Pilot, who was also there. She’s convinced Pilot kidnapped Henry.

Letty tells Lucas, and Lucas looks into it, and one thing leads to another until he’s involved in a manhunt across South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan, pursuing a Manson-like killing cult that’s growing increasingly unstable.

I’m impressed with the way author Sandford manages to keep an old formula fresh. The book was as lively and engrossing as any he’s written. An incident at the end indicates he plans to change things up a little in the next entry, but that’s fine with me too.

The Prey books are fantasies to some extent, and not only in terms of the male wish-fulfillment embodied in the character of Lucas Davenport, millionaire cop. Davenport is clearly a Democrat, but he lives in a Minnesota where Democrats don’t consider every criminal a misunderstood child who just needs a hug, and where men can tell women dirty jokes without losing their jobs.

But I don’t object to a little fantasy either. Keep the books coming, John Sandford. Me and my big head are waiting for them.

Cautions for language, adult themes, and some pretty appalling (but not too graphic) cruelty.