Book Review: John Sandford’s Mortal Prey

Posted March 7, 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 Mortal Prey

Mortal Prey


John Sandford

It is part of the Lucas Davenport #13 series and is a detective mystery, mystery in Paperback edition that was published by Berkley on April 29, 2003 and has 432 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, 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

Thirteenth in the Lucas Davenport detective mystery series and revolving around a cop with a very sharp mind who’s more interested in justice than legalities.

In 2003, Mortal Prey won the Minnesota Book Award for Genre.

My Take

This is a good’un. Rinker is amazing with the different ways she takes her enemies out.

I know this is a serious story with serious mayhem, but it’s fun, too. Sandford tosses the humor around, and it relieves the tension and horror of what the bad guys are up to. Lucas finds all sort of useful facts and impresses the heck out of the FBI. The ones who looked down on him. The dating advice Lucas gives Mallard and Malone separately. He’s such a guy, and I couldn’t help laughing. Oh, lord, Malone relates a story about one of the guys she married…oh, man. Just goes to show that it doesn’t matter how smart you are in one aspect of your life, you’re gonna do somethin’ dumb in another part. That Porsche of Lucas’ finds him taking guff from the guys, lol.

Lucas is in the middle of rebuilding his house to accommodate his fiancée and the coming baby, driving everyone nuts. When Weather tells him he’s pathetic…Lucas simply agrees with her. And Weather is very grateful for that request from the FBI, lol.

Nice use of that FBI report to provide Rinker’s back history. A very sad one, and another example of why parents need to be licensed! Reading about her childhood, finding out about the abuse Patsy/Dorothy suffered. Mrs. Hill, Patsy’s mom is right. Where were the cops when this abuse was going on? And they wonder why women strike out. Ah well, it’s all right, they’re just women. Must be that time of the month. You know how hysterical women get over nothin’…*eye roll*…

I’m with Lucas. Holding Gene on a drug charge for one joint is ridiculous, a dumb move, and they deserve what they get from Rinker for abusing her brother as they did.

Lucas is a clotheshorse. And it drives the FBI agents nuts when he and Martin get into a discussion on clothes.

Manuel relates a line about Cancún that cracked me up:

“Cancún is just like Miami — except in Miami, they speak Spanish.”

There’s a short bit about the main philosophical difference between cops.

That Rose Marie is so sneaky. She’s ensuring that her team gets good slots that the incoming regime can’t stiff and putting enemies into very exposed positions.

One thing that’s been popping up in the back of my mind as I read these mysteries, thrillers, and suspense stories is how the Internet and mobile access has changed how law enforcement operates. Fax machines, thumb drives, instant records access…

After Rinker’s threat to take out law enforcement agents’ families, why isn’t Lucas thinking about protection for Weather?

That last scene with the wedding was incredibly confusing. I read it several times and am still trying to extrapolate what happened.

The Story

She’s fallen in love and is pregnant with Paulo’s baby. Life is good. Life is great. Until the assassin’s bullet hits the wrong person.

They shouldn’t have done it. They’ve destroyed her life, and she will destroy theirs.

The Characters

Lucas Davenport is a political appointee as a deputy chief. Weather Karkinnen is a surgeon at Hennepin General. Carol is her secretary.

Minneapolis PD
Detective-Sergeant Marcy Sherrill now runs Lucas’ office and part of his life; she’ll become the head of Intelligence and a lieutenant. Rose Marie Roux is chief of police, a former state senator, and is up for director for the department of public safety. She wants to get Pellegrino to retire so they can slide Sherrill in and set her up. Then Pellegrino can come with them to the state. Del Capslock will quit to join Lucas’ new team while Sloan has decided to stay. Hempsted is an old-timer cop with a tip.

The governor is Elmer Henderson.


Special Agent Louis Mallard has worked with Lucas in the past and needs him again. He and Special Agent Malone with whom Lucas had an affair. She’s shot and killed by Rinker in retaliation for her brother committing suicide in prison after Rinker told them he couldn’t handle it. Mallard’s department is now the Special Studies Group.

Cancún, Mexico

Cassie McLain, a.k.a., Clara Rinker, a.k.a., Rose-Anne, whom we first met in Certain Prey, 10, is now working as a bookkeeper in Cancún and getting ready to marry Paulo Mejia, Raul Mejia‘s baby boy. Anthony and Dominic are Paulo’s brothers. Jamie is the security guard who helps Rinker renew her shooting skills.

Colonel Manuel Martin is with the Mexican National Police and will liaise between the Americans and Mejia.

Israel Coen is a sniper who takes independent contracts. Octavio Diaz had an idea he might have trouble. He does deserve it.

St. Louis, Missouri

Dorothy Pollock, a.k.a., Patsy Hill, works in a dead-end job; she murdered her husband Roger. Mrs. McCoombs is her landlady. Ann Diaz is a hotshot lawyer with D.C. connections. John Sellos owns the BluesNote Cafe. Carl is his assistant. Sandy White is a metro columnist for the Post-Dispatch. T.J. Baker used to run with Roy Rinker. Nina Bennett is a private investigator who gets set up. Dr. Geoffrey is with the university. His wife, Rayla, makes a good stay-at-home nurse.

The crooks
John Ross was Rinker’s primary somewhat psychopathic employer and has a liquor distributorship. Treena is his wooly-headed wife with a thing for tennis. Wooden Head was one of his men; Troy is a live one. Nanny Dichter is the richest and a druglord. Andy Levy is a bank guy whose ex-wife, Lucille, wasn’t an ex for very long. Honus Johnson is a torturer. He’s really loves his job. On the side he builds custom furniture. Nancy Leighton is/was a friend of Rinker’s. Paul Dallagio doesn’t look like a guy who’s ordered hits, but his wife, Jesse, does. Giancati is leaving for England where he thinks he’ll be safe. Ferignetti claims he never met Rinker.

The St. Louis cops…and the retired ones
Dan Loftus is a security guard for the FBI with some great connections, and he’s retired from the St. Louis PD. Dick Bender was Homicide, Micky Andreno was a patrol lieutenant, and Bob Carter was a former patrol sergeant. Jill Bender, Dick’s daughter, works at Heartland Bank in the computer systems department.

Sergeant Eakins, a highway patrolman, got practical at the truck stop. Sheriff Errol Lamp is with Mellan County. Deputy Tony McCoy is the guy assigned to take Lucas and Mallard around.

St. Louis FBI
Richard Lewis is the agent-in-charge but not of the Rinker hunt. He wants to get the glory so he’s got his own team going: Striker, Allenby, Lane, and Jones. Sally Bryce will be Lucas’ contact with the FBI; he’s finding too much good information. Without a computer. Some of the other FBI agents include Davy Mathews is the organized-crime guy, Josh Franklin, Meers, Derik, Carl, and Patrick takes it in the legs.

Cammie Rinker was Clara’s mother. Carl Paltry was her abusive stepfather. Gene was her younger brother and has coping problems today. An aunt states that Clara’s older brother, Roy, had also sexually abused her.

Tom and Michelle Lawton — he’s writing a screenplay and she works part-time in a bookstore. It’s a good cover — for smugglers. Juan Duarte is their Mexican contact. Jackie Burke once got helped by Rinker. Jimmy runs a golf shop with a guns-and-ammo sideline. Sergeant Wayne McCallum works in ordnance. He’s supplied her with pistols and other useful toys.

Jim is the electrician. Jack Vrbecek is the contractor. Rick is a carpenter. Harold.

The Cover and Title

The cover is scary with that rifle glowing with a nimbus of red around it as it floats front and center in a red sky. The author’s name and title glows in an embossed copper.

The title is what we all are, sooner or later, Mortal Prey.