Book Review: John Sandford’s Winter Prey

Posted July 5, 2014 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 Winter Prey

Winter Prey


John Sandford

It is part of the Lucas Davenport #5 series and is a detective mystery, mystery that was published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on March 1, 1994 and has 400 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, Silent Prey, Mind Prey, Night Prey, Sudden Prey, Easy Prey, Chosen Prey, Mortal Prey, Naked Prey, Hidden 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

Fifth in the Lucas Davenport detective mystery series revolving around an ex-cop who misses the action. This story takes place in Grant, in northern Wisconsin, in the depths of winter.

My Take

Man, another good one from Sandford. It’s terrifying how easy it is for someone like the Iceman to exist within a community, to abuse and murder people without being caught. It’s such a small community that I bet every person could name off every other citizen in the area. And yet, the Iceman hides within it.

I’d sure hate to be a fireman or policeman in a cold climate, and Sandford did a great job of making me feel the cold as they attempted to work the scene. I like Climpt. I hope he shows up again in the series. I loved the way he reasoned out why Harper’s “suicide” was really murder. It made so much sense. That bit with the priest demonstrates why it’s practical to bring in someone from outside.

I’ve been reading enough books that I’m definitely getting the picture on self-defense and guns, if you own a gun, plan to use a gun: go to the range, practice, make it an instinctive reaction. Or, heck, if that’s all too much trouble, then plan to die. Then there’s all the gossip running through town. Another lesson for all cops. Do NOT talk out of school. The Iceman’s experience in school — on both sides of the bullying fence — are reason enough for teachers and principals to do what they can to stop this behavior. Can you imagine how many lives would have been saved if someone had stopped this behavior early on?

Jesus, the way she’s thinking and talking, Ginny’s been having sex for some time. And she just turned fourteen. Parental licensing!!!

Aw, man, I understand the need for the police to ask so many questions, but it’s horrible how it will force decent and innocent people to have to uproot their lives and leave.

LOL, go, Weather! I’m with her. There’s all this crime happening around us and the cops are focusing on speeding tickets. Oops, sorry, I mean fulfilling their performance standards…*eye roll*…

Winter Prey is a good example of what I love about thrillers and mysteries, following the trail, picking up the clues, and working the information. And they have so little to start with. It’s a puzzle, and I do love a good puzzle.

The crazy thing about all this? If the Iceman had just left it alone…

The Story

It’s horrific. No one would have thought the LaCourts had an enemy in the world, especially not one that would brutally torture and murder them. Nor does the police department in Grant have the experience to investigate a group of murders like this. Lucky for them, Lucas Davenport has had plenty of publicity, so they know where to find him.

They’ll need him when the murderer careens out of control.

The Characters

Lucas Davenport has the experience that Carr needs to work this scene, and he’s staying in his cabin in Sawyer County. Elle Kruger, a.k.a., Sister Mary Joseph, is a college psychology professor and an old childhood friend of Lucas’.

The police
Sheriff Sheldon “Shelly” Carr is religious and protective of Father Bergen. His wife is a nutjob with a cleaning fixation, so Shelly is seeing Jeanine Perkins on the side. A fact that Lucas makes good use of later. Deputies Henry Lacey, Tommy who did the photography, Gene Climpt has a tragedy in his past and is a good investigator, Arne Bruun is a quick thinker, Johnny, Russell “Rusty” Hinks, and Dusty Bane will all help. Helen Arris is the office manager. Tod Crane is the lab chief from Madison.

Carl Snyder is a burglary specialist with the Minneapolis PD. Special Agents Lansley and Tolsen are the advance FBI agents. Detective Domeir is a Milwaukee cop with experience with sexual predators. Bobby McClain is a publisher. Zeke is a schoolteacher with a printer.

The firemen
Duane Helper is a professional firefighter who lives in the back of the firehouse. He is full of town gossip. Dick Westrom runs one of the hardware stores in town and is a volunteer fireman. His wife is Janice.

The hospital
Dr. Weather Karkinnen is the local doctor who’s on call as pathologist and keeps shooting herself in the foot, metaphorically. Dr. Rice, the local GP, does surgeries. Robbie‘s strength will come in handy.

Father Philip Bergen is the pastor at All Souls, Shelly’s church. Bergen has his own cross to bear. Joe is an AA sponsor. Bob Jones is the principal at Grant Junior High. John Mueller is a student and knows about the photograph. Bob Dell is one of the LaCourts’ neighbors and a foreman at the lumber mill. Eldon is the county attorney.

Frank and Claudia LaCourt are on a second marriage, and they’re very happy. Lisa is their daughter. Jean Hansen is his ex and Jimmy Wilson is hers.

The Iceman is eager to keep his identity secret and is willing to do anything to keep it.

The sex gang
Fellow student Jim Harper set this all off with that photograph; Russ Harper is his mean pervert of a dad who runs the gas station. He’s got a prison record. Mark, Rosie, and Ginny Harris are orphans living in a trailer. Judy Schoenecker and her husband, Andy, a local bookkeeper, are heading out to Florida with their daughters. Doug.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a snowy white background with footprints traipsing through the title. In the upper right corner is a burnt out exposure of a three-story farmhouse isolated in the snowy hills as the moon shines overhead.

The title is both the season and a reference to the Iceman as he seeks his Winter Prey.