Book Review: John Sandford’s Naked Prey

Posted March 21, 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 Naked Prey

Naked Prey


John Sandford

It is part of the Lucas Davenport #14 series and is a detective mystery, mystery that was published by Berkley on May 4, 2004 and has 390 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, 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

Fourteenth in the Lucas Davenport detective mystery series set in Minneapolis and revolving around a smart cop with a strong sense of justice. This particular story is set in Broderick, Minnesota.

My Take

Jesus. I know the world needs to be in balance, but does it have to balance like this?

This is the first story with Lucas with the governor’s public safety department, and it starts with a bang. Literally. It’s vengeance, and I can’t blame the big man for taking it. It was brutal. It took awhile, and I might be tempted to help him out. So might you once you learn the details. It’s too bad he wasn’t more careful.

I do love that Lucas, a tough-looking man with a smile that’ll scare the pants off ya is such a clotheshorse. Sandford brings that home with talk of cashmere and Coach briefcases.

One of the victims is black, and Ray Zahn reckons the county’s cultural diversity went back to zero.

Lucas is a fair guy. He gets on well with the FBI and most of the local law enforcement agencies in Minnesota, and he does have a way with the LEOs who are rude, lol. He’s comfortable in himself and doesn’t feel the need to throw his weight around, well, unless someone is being rude, stupid, or uncooperative. It’s amazing, ahem, how a little kindness can go so far in gaining cooperation.

It is a treat to “see” how they figure it out. In spite of Anderson’s incompetence. Heck, I think I know more about processing a crime scene just from reading books than he does! Lucas has a practical plan of “attack” in how to investigate this crime, without stepping on anyone’s toes, and generating more ideas with the different perspectives. He’s also very conscious of the media and projecting a competent, thorough, and respectful image. Not what you’d expect from a tough guy. Yep, the poetry-loving Lucas is definitely not what you expect from his exterior.

I don’t think Loren ever had a chance. He’s not too bright, certainly never learned right or wrong from his mama, living as he did in fear for his life his whole life, and, well, he’s a mama’s boy. I suspect he’s a sociopath with a chance. The twist Sandford puts on his love affair with Katina is very unexpected, and Sandford leads you by the nose only to twist it into hope.

“They were in Lucas’s new Acura SUV, which Lucas had begun to suspect was a disguised minivan.”

It’s not the only part of the story that Sandford has twisted. He keeps Singleton’s involvement, Katina and Ruth’s part in it, and the “big man’s” identity a secret for the longest time. Sandford keeps your mind pinging with all sorts of possibilities.

Ya can’t help but like Letty, even if she hates that .22 of hers, lol. She’s a go-getter, conniving, and smart — someone in the family has to be. She impresses the heck out of Lucas and Del.

I don’t like the direction Neil’s thoughts take about the sheriff. It’s not right, even if the guy is a dunce. With the way he thinks, I suspect future stories will be an interesting ride with the governor for a boss. And I think he has a bit to learn about how policing works. I wonder how long Lucas will last under him.

Del panics when Letty tells him what cool stuff Phil finds on computers that people toss out at the dump.

Interesting insight into Canadian drugs, and it helps highlight the laissez-faire attitude of the town and the cops. Nor are the drugs the only easygoing acceptance of not-too-legal activities. None of them are anything that’ll hurt anyone, and it’s a comfy feeling to know that not everyone is a red-tape-following idiot.

I’m tellin’ ya…Sandford plays it close to the vest all the way through and humanizes it with cop humor, their restrictions, and a peek in at their personal lives.

The Story

It’s a horrible way to die, and it’s a horrible find for Letty West who’s out checking her traps. It’s also a potential political nightmare and Lucas Davenport is dispatched to the northern reaches of Minnesota to fix this. Fast.

Only there are too many questions and too many twists in this tiny town. People who know too much and say too little.

The Characters

Lucas and Weather Davenport are married and the baby has arrived: Samuel Kalle Davenport. Ellen is their new housekeeper. Weather is a surgeon while Lucas is now working for the Department of Public Safety under Rose Marie. Elle Kruger is a nun now, Sister Mary Joseph, and a psychologist. She’s an old friend of Lucas’ from their childhood. She also used to beta test Lucas’ role-playing games. Seems Elle knows Ruth who also helped beta test.

Department of Public Safety is…
…a pet project of the governor’s. Rose Marie Roux is its new head. Del Capslock came along with Lucas from the Minneapolis PD; he’s married to Cheryl, a nurse. If you want to know about a good hiding place, Del’s your man.

Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is…
…where Lucas has his office. John McCord is the head of it, and he hates the Public Safety idea. Jenkins and Shrake like arresting people. Carl Driscoll is the head of the crime scene crew. The guys from the Bemidji office include Hank Dickerson, Joe Barin, and Woods.

Governor Elmer Henderson, a black horse no one expected to be successful as a politician, intends for this department to show him in a good light. Neil Mitford is his Igor. He is a pragmatic son of a bitch.

Minneapolis PD
Lieutenant Marcy Sherrill is the head of Intelligence. Elroy remembers her well.

The Law Enforcement Center in Armstrong in Custer County
Ray Zahn is a state patrolman who calls the murders in. The sheriff is a new guy, Dick Anderson, and he has no experience. He was only elected because the last sheriff, Bobby Carter, was caught with his fingers in the cookie jar. Anderson’s puppeteer appears to be Barry Wilson, the head of the county commission. None of the commission is too impressed with him, especially Harvey Benschneider. Deputies include Braun, Schnurr, Roland Askew, Day Payton, and Roger Elroy, a cop whom Lucas met in another town in a previous book. Henry Ford is the medical examiner. Micky James and Susan Conrad work the comm center. George Puckett is a crime scene guy, and I think he’s with LEC.

Letty West is the young trapper who found them. Her mother, Martha, is a singing and guitar playing lush. Dick is Martha’s on-again, off-again boyfriend.

The truck rehab business…
…is Gene Calb‘s baby and brought the town back to life. Gloria is his wife. Shawn Davis is Calb’s contact down in Kansas City. Dick Block is the mean guy with the dogs; he’s the prep specialist at Calb’s. Eurice is his girlfriend. Mike Bannister, Kiley Anderson, Durrell Schmidt, and Dexter Barnes are some of the guys who work for Calb. Jane Warr works at the casino dealing blackjack, and Deon Cash, her boyfriend, is an ex-con out of Kansas City. He and Joe Kelly drive for Calb.

The nuns…
…live and work out of what the locals refer to as the Holy Roller church. Katina Lewis is part of the charity mission, and she’s got her sights set on Loren Singleton, a sheriff’s deputy and a Cadillac restorer. Ruth is Katina’s older sister and in charge of their group. I’m not sure how Sister Mary Ann fits in.

Jeanette Raskin used to work for Lutheran Social Services and run the Love Bug, a free clinic.

Carl Holme runs a car dealership, and he’ll rent Lucas and Del a couple cars. Zelda Holme is his wife, and she works as a secretary to the sheriff. Pete runs the bar. Randy Pearce used to run it and Letty’s mom felt more welcome when he ran it. Sandra Wolf runs the diner, Wolf’s Cafe. The Red Robin Diner has terrible food. The Duck Inn is another not-so-fine establishment. Logan’s Fancy Meats is the best place to eat in town. John McGuire and his sister, Shelly, run the gas station. Bud is a trapper. Harriet is a hairdresser. Phil Bussard works at the dump and drives the Cat. Reese Culver sometimes gets loaded and Letty drives him home. And keeps the truck to get to her trapline quicker the next morning. Loretta Grupe is Reese’s neighbor. Linda Carlson and her husband are the Calbs’ best friends.

Casino at Moose Bay is…
…run by the Chippewa. Clark Hoffman is security chief. Terry Anderson is Clark’s brother-in-law. JoAnne Small Bear saw the murderer.

The nursing home is…
…where Margery Singleton, Loren’s mother works. She’s a psychopath who should have been killed at birth. Loren’s father, Edgar, was turned into a poached Eg. Flo Anderson is Margery’s best friend and a registered nurse. Burt is a supervisor. Old man Barrows is one of the patients.

Rochester PD
Sheriff Brad Wilson.

Special Agents Lanny Cole and Jim Green are vouched for by Sheriff Wilson. Aaron Jaffe is from Hollywood and a specialist with ground penetrating radar.

Washington Fowler is a civil rights attorney from Chicago with a reputation for stirring things up. Hale and Mary Sorrell‘s daughter, Tammy, was kidnapped just before Christmas. George is Hale’s lawyer. Mark Johnson is a reporter with the Chicago Tribune. A guy Weather knows, Harry Larson, will do the hand surgery. Tom Block is the Kansas City Lucas Davenport. Tom Burkes’ daughter, Annie, was also kidnapped.

The Cover and Title

The cover is the deep royal blue of a dark night with only the lights of an approaching car to give the impression of a lonely road going through the woods. The author’s name and title are embossed with a silver hologram while the info text is in white.

The title is the first two murders. He has plans for his Naked Prey.