Book Review: John Sandford’s Hidden Prey

Posted May 5, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: John Sandford’s Hidden Prey

Hidden Prey


John Sandford

It is part of the Lucas Davenport #15 series and is a detective mystery, mystery that was published by Putnam Adult on May 11, 2004 and has 393 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books in this series include Rough Country

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Rules of Prey, Shadow Prey, Eyes of Prey, Winter Prey, Silent Prey, Mind Prey, Night Prey, Sudden Prey, Easy Prey, Chosen Prey, Mortal Prey, Naked Prey, Broken Prey, Invisible Prey, Phantom Prey, Wicked Prey, Storm Prey, Buried Prey, Silken Prey, Stolen Prey, Field of Prey, Gathering Prey, Dark of the Moon, Heat Lightning, Rough Country, Bad Blood, Shock Wave, Mad River, Deadline, Storm Front, Extreme Prey, Escape Clause, The Fool's Run, Deep Freeze, The Empress File

Fifteenth in the Lucas Davenport detective mystery series and revolving around a maverick cop who gets things done in Minneapolis.

My Take

There are, ahem, some good tips for husbands on surviving their wives in here. *snicker* Even the neighbor, Gene, is in on this one, lol.

The series is an intriguing mix of real life mixed in with cop suspense and violence. I adore the characters and their snark. The back-and-forth of moaning about budgets, politicians who want miracles, and the media who’ll try to catch them out on anything, even if they have to make it up.

Already Lucas’ new job is wearing on him. He hates that he’s chasing down criminals to order, for political reasons rather than because it’s the right thing to do. It’s triggering a number of conversations between him and Weather, between Lucas and his mind, as they argue through other career possibilities.

Sandford makes an interesting point (through Lucas) about the state of the police these days. It does make you wonder when you realize that you don’t see cops on the streets anymore, not walking a beat, anyway.

It’s certainly a lesson in how Russian agents operate, what they find “different” about America. Nadya asks a good question: why do Americans celebrate defeats? Barbara has her own good answers about teenage hookers and how to get them off the streets.

It sounds as if most of the ring wants to shut down, and it’s only Grandpa who is still wallowing in his glory days. Carl certainly is having his fantasies about being a James Bond-type spy with all the girls impressed with his prowess. All the typical teenage boy dreams.

It’s such a shame in this. All these deaths because Grandpa can’t let it go. And the more he chases and kills, the better the chances he’ll be caught. There’s a moment when he reminisces about the revolution. How he got caught up in it. The things he did. What he’s done now. I don’t regret what happens at the end at all.

The Story

An assassination and $50k is enough to trigger a manhunt. Or rather, a womanhunt, as a circle of spies kills to keep their secrets.

It’s a case of anomalies: ancient bullets, murders, sociopaths, then a flight, decapitation, and a scary lack of loyalty.

The Characters

Lucas Davenport has been the chief troubleshooter for the governor’s public safety department for the past six months. His wife, Weather, is a surgeon. The baby, Sam, is nine months old now. Ellen Jansen is their housekeeper and nanny. Letty West is their twelve-year-old ward from Naked Prey, 14. Sister Mary Joseph is a psychologist and a childhood friend of Lucas’.

Micky Andreno is a retired patrol lieutenant from St. Louis (Mortal Prey, 13). Jennifer Carey is an ex-girlfriend of Lucas’ and the mother of his daughter. She’s also a newscaster at Channel Three.

The Office of Regional Research at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is…
…run by Lucas and is Governor Elmer Henderson‘s baby, meant to make him look good. Neil Mitford is the governor’s hatchet man. Rose Marie Roux is the new head. Del Capslock moved over with Lucas and is working an undercover op at a McDonald’s supply owned by Elroy Bruin. Dannie Carson is looking for a pimp in Brainerd; she’s also one of the best interrogators Lucas has ever seen. Joshua and Romany are some of the people looking at birth certificates. John McCord is the BCA superintendent.

Minneapolis PD
Detective Sloan is one of Lucas’ friends. Lieutenant Marcy Sherrill is the head of the Intelligence Unit. She’s dating Don Cary these days.

Larry is the fence at the college.

Duluth PD
Police Sergeant Jerry Reasons is the lead investigator on the Oleshev murder who makes a really bad decision. Raisa is his wife. Doctor Chu is the pathologist. Detective Larry Kelly helps out at the railroad storage shed.

Virginia, MN, PD
John Terry is chief of police, and I reckon it’s been awhile since they’ve had any real crime here. Deputy Clark thinks there’s something off about Spivak. Max Anderson is a sheriff’s deputy.

Spivak’s Tap turned up on a credit card receipt. Anton Spivak is the owner. Marsha is Anton’s wife. Carol and Bob, the twins, are their children. Maisy Reynolds is one of his employees.

Hibbing PD
Roy Hopper is the Hibbing chief of police.

Svoboda’s Bakery is in Hibbing and owned by Janet and Rick Svoboda; their daughter, Karen, helps out. Leon (he’s an accountant) and Wanda Witold with their daughter, Nancy Witold Spencer, who runs a dance studio, are friends of the Svobodas. Reggie Carpenter plays piano at T-Bone Logan’s Lakeside Lumber Emporium and Saloon who remembers every hockey player.

Barbara Langersham works for Catholic Charities and knows all the street people.

Charles Peyton and Barney Howard are agents in Minneapolis. Andy Harmon and Amery are the agents in Duluth. Special Agent Louis Mallard works Washington D.C. and has worked several cases with Lucas.

The Russians
Oleg Moshalov, a.k.a., Rodion Oleshev, is former KGB — an analyst and arranger — and now a first officer in the merchant marine. He’s also undercover, working for the Circle at the SVR. Maksim Oleshev is his father, a very rich and powerful oil man.

Major Nadezhda “Nadya” Kalin claims she’s with the Federal’naya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti (the Russian version of the FBI) while Harmon says she’s Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki (SVR), the Russian foreign intelligence service, sent to find out why the murderer has not been found. Martin Johnson, a.k.a., Piotr Nikitin, is Nadya’s shadow, Intelligence hiding as a middle-level guy in the Russian Commercial Affairs Section.

Chick Daniels is a reporter for the News Tribune.

Seventeen-year-old Carl is the product of his family and another reason why parents should be licensed. That includes great-grandparents! Burt “Grandpa” Walther, a.k.a., Sergey Vasilevich Botenkov, takes care of Grandma, Melodie, these days as he trains Carl to take his place in the Cherry Orchard ring. Jan Walther is his mother and the Walthers’ granddaughter-in-law. She’s divorced from their grandson, Roger, and owns Mesaba Frame and Artist’s Supply. Bill is a guy she’s known since high school.

Lucy Parks is a friend of Jan’s. The brainy Jeanne McGovern is a fellow student of Carl’s. Roger’s current girlfriend is Kelly Harbinson. Corine Maples is Kelly’s sister. James Wolfe, Jr., comes in with his dad, James, with a possible hideout location.

Kurt Maisler is a lawyer whom Grandpa calls. Chuck Miles is one of the more competent attorneys in the state.

Growing up with a privileged life until she fell from it, Annabelle “Trey” Ramford is homeless and happy enough about it. Lucy and John are her upper-class parents — Dad’s a lawyer.

Mary Wheaton was one of Trey’s acquaintances. Maxine Just is the manager at the Goodwill. Raul works at the Goodwill and has a good memory.

Harry Kellog is a grain trimmer and works for the port in Duluth. Michelle ended up thrown over a bridge. Jael Corbeau is an old flame of Lucas’ and still throwing pots (see Easy Prey, 11). James Lever is a barbecue judge with his own special sauce. Dick Worley is the leader of the Minnesota Rangers. Slattery delivers bulk food goods. Jones works the warehouse.

The Cover and Title

The cover is the deep purple of darkest night with a full moon attempting to penetrate a cloud-ridden sky as its light highlights the waves. A trawler sits off from the concrete pier that juts out from the base of the cover. The author’s name is in a faded yellow above the bright red of the title,= and both are embossed.

The title plays off the deep cover of this Russian cell, for they are the Hidden Prey.