Book Review: John Sandford’s Wicked Prey

Posted July 24, 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 Wicked Prey

Wicked Prey


John Sandford

It is part of the Lucas Davenport #19 series and is a that was published by Putnam Adult on April 2, 2009 and has 415 pages.

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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, Hidden Prey, Broken Prey, Invisible Prey, Phantom 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

Nineteenth in the Lucas Davenport mystery detective series set in Minneapolis and revolving around a get-things-done detective. It’s set during the Republican National Convention when John McCain was nominated along with Sarah Palin.

My Take

It’s a very clever twist on robbery. And I can’t think of a better, ahem, class of people to be robbed. Meanwhile, Lucas has been making himself really “popular” by poking holes in convention security in every way possible, *lots of laughter*. Gotta hand it to Lucas, he is consistent.

I’m wondering about Sandford’s wife with the way he keeps “picking on” Weather. Not that she doesn’t deserve it, lol. All it took was two paragraphs of some lovely show, and we know so much about Weather AND Lucas’ characters…*more laughter*.

“The women in Lucas’ life reduced him to a chattering-chipmunk state about once a month.”

Sorry guys, but it does crack me up the power women can wield. Here’s Lucas, one scary MF who goes weak in the knees… And Sandford keeps it real with the proud papa, lol, as Lucas revels in how brilliant and gifted his son is. Remembering how much time I spend laughing when I read a John Sandford MYSTERY that is about serious topics and vicious criminals…it’s what I love about Sandford’s Lucas Davenport series (yeah, yeah, I’ll get to more books Sandford has written as soon as I finish this series!) is how funny his writing is even as the bad guys run amuck.

Lucas keeps it real, and Weather’s come round to it:

“…as regarded cops and robbers: it was all chaos, accident, stupidity, insanity, and coincidence.”

Although, it is amazing how Lucas pulls it together. The ideas he comes up with to figure out what’s happening, how it happened, what is likely to happen. Little clues, unexpected comments, coincidences that set him to thinking.

Ohhh, I love it. Lucas and Weather are looking to formally adopt Letty (Sandford includes a brief back history on Letty)! It’ll be fraught with some careful and careless thinking on Letty’s part as well as some almost terrifying insight into how Letty does think, her stalking actions. She could make a great general with that focus on the end game.

Del cracks me up. He’s so perfect for his undercover role; Sandford doesn’t need a lot of words to draw a great picture of him. Love that comment from Del, lol.

“‘You’d have to tone it down,’ Del said. ‘Like borrow clothes from me.’

Lucas shuddered: ‘Maybe not.'”

Sandford is always too funny as he keeps the story real:

“‘Yeah? He’s a marcher?’ Lucas asked.

‘Anarchist,’ she said. ‘Or anti-Christ. One of the two. I can’t keep them straight.'”

Hmmm, there are some good riot rules Lucy lays out. It makes for an interesting contrast when you read Brutus’ and Lindy’s thoughts after their “catch-up” session at the motel. Two users gettin’ along, hidin’ their thoughts, lyin’ to each other. Nor are they the only ones using in this group. Randy’s back history gets laid out as well — I do like how Sandford writes his info dumps. No, well, okay, yeah, they’re info dumps, technically, but Sandford does such a nice job of integrating them in. Writers should take note of this.

Uh-huh, I think Lucas is straddling a fine line here with that political component issue of his, although I can see his point about the difference between what happened in Naked Prey, 14, owing some cops a favor, and what’s happening now in Wicked Prey.

The Story

The Republicans are coming to St. Paul for their convention. Throwing a big party is supposed to be fun, but crashing the party are a few hard cases the police would rather stayed away. Chief among them is a crew of professional stickup men who’ve spotted several lucrative opportunities, ranging from political moneymen with briefcases full of cash to those safe deposit boxes with the weakness in its security system.

All that’s headache enough for Lucas Davenport — but what’s about to hit him is even worse. A while back, a stray bullet put a pimp and petty thief named Randy Whitcomb in a wheelchair, and ever since, the man has been nursing his grudge into a full head of psychotic steam. He blames Davenport for the bullet, but it’s no fun just shooting him. That wouldn’t be painful enough. Not when Davenport has a pretty fourteen-year-old almost-adopted daughter that Whitcomb can target instead…

And then there’s the young man with the .50 caliber sniper rifle and the right-wing-crazy background, roaming through a city filled with the most powerful politicians on earth…

The Characters

Lucas Davenport is a clothes- and poetry-loving troubleshooter for the governor. Dr. Weather Karkinnen is his wife and a plastic surgeon at Hennepin General. Sam is their two-year-old son, and Letty is their almost fifteen-year-old ward (Naked Prey). Ellen is their housekeeper.

The Department of Public Safety is…
…a pet project of the governor’s with Rose Marie Roux as its state public safety commissioner. Lucas works for her with Del Capslock (he’s married to the pregnant Cheryl, a nurse). Lucas’ other agents include Virgil Flowers, Dan Jackson is their photographer who really gets into outfitting Lucas, Jenkins and Shrake (he’s dating Shirley Knox who Jenkins claims is in the Mafia) are a double act, Carol is Lucas’ secretary, Jim Benson, Dave Tompkins, and Nancy.

Neil Mitford is Governor Elmer Henderson‘s executive assistant and chief weasel. Dan Coates is with the Special Assignments Bureau, Lucas’ opposite number in Wisconsin. The local FBI Agent-in-Charge is Wilbur Rivers. George Dickens is the Secret Service agent mentioned.

Minneapolis PD
Officer Rick Jones caught the High Hat robberies. Danny Lake is the head of Robbery-Homicide. Officers Doug Swanson and Dan Long are standing by. Able Peterson is SWAT as is Dick McGuire.

St. Paul PD
Lieutenant Don Parker caught Weimer’s case. Dick Clay. Detective John Elleson catches Benson. Harrington is the chief of police. Sergeant Larkin gets in on the St. Andrew affair.

Hudson PD in Wisconsin
Officer Charles Dee won’t be on the force long. Joshua Martin and Kyle Wayne were on the hotel desk when Dee came in.

Captain Lily Rothenburg is with the NYPD, and we met her in Shadow Prey, 2, and Silent Prey, 4.

Washington D.C. District PD
Detective Sams investigated Raphael’s death.

Detectives Lance Barr and Harvey Cason are investigating a suspicious fire.

Elena Diaz lives in the Lu house in Venice with Martha Knofler (or Laura or Lauren or…). Louise Janowitz has insurance with State Farm. Dick and Carly are their neighbors. David Harelson does all sorts of photography.

The Republican National Convention

Dan Jacobs runs the convention-security coordination committee for the Convention. Sondra is his secretary. The people who assign the hotel rooms include Helen Fumaro, Cheryl Ann, and Lucy. Raphael Sabartes had been with them before he died.

The lobbyists include…
John Wilson, a little guy with a temper, and Lori Johnson is his, um, assistant; Bart Spellman is thinking ahead to the future; Ray Landy; Dick McCollum; Shelly Weimer; Buddy Snider and Sally Craig; Whitehead; Schott; and, the lucky Chuck Prince are more lobbyists.

Seems the lobbyists aren’t worried about who’ll be the next president, they’re “covered both ways”.

The St. Andrews hotel
Rob Benedict is a consultant in Washington D.C. who’ll be an example. Ann and Karen are usually on the front desk at night.

Channel Three is…
…the TV station where Letty’s been working as an unpaid intern for the past two years. Jennifer Carey, the mother of Lucas’ daughter, is Letty’s mentor. Frank (he’s got a nasty, well-known secret that comes in handy) and Lois Cline are part of the camera crew. Lorenzo who is a lawyer for Channel Three, Nelly Cassesford, Larry Johnston, and Andy Cramer who happily drives the van all work for the station.

Brutus Cohn, a.k.a., John Lamb, is a brutal and efficient thief. (Billy Joe Wakefield is another possibility.) Rosie Cruz, who blends so easily, has worked with him before, and she has multiple agendas. The rest of the gang includes Jesse Lane who owns a farm in Alabama and turns out fast cars for moonshiners, Tate McCall has been clean for eight years and has a part ownership in a diner in Malibu, and Jack Spitzer is from Austin and mostly unemployed. Lindy is a long-time girlfriend of Brutus’.

Randy Whitcomb (we first met him in Eyes of Prey, 3, and again in Chosen Prey, 12) is a major sleaze bag who should have been drowned at birth; now, he’s a paraplegic with a major hate on for Lucas and delights in switches. Juliet Briar is a teen runaway who thinks Randy loves her. Yeah, as long as she keeps hooking for him. Ranch is Randy’s male go-fer and an insane idiot. George is a teetotalling resaler. Don Johnson is the perverted mailman dating Juliet’s mother.

Dubuque and Moline Pollish are twins working as sexual entertainment managers, ahem. They’re ticked that Randy is runnin’ Jasmine on their street. Jorgenson is another pimp.

Justice Shafer is a guerrilla, skinhead nutcake and a good sniper. An eighty-eight is a Nazi skinhead. Terry, the Jenkins brothers, and Bob Harper each run a gunshop. Jane works at the Wayfarer Motel. Bill Hefner is the “boyfriend” “tracking” the anarchists.

John and Jeff are a couple of Letty’s friends from school — Lucas has a problem with them. They’re too much like he was, lol. Oh, the agony…*more laughing* Emily Grissom is a nasty little schoolmate.

Achmed Mansoor owns a sandwich shop. Lucy‘s husband is one of the marchers. Marv is the leader of a skate gang. Jean is part of the gang, and she has a great face. Dan Eller is an association president of a block of condos; another building is run by Ken Jacobsen. Carl Bishop manages another block. The Hassans are Ethiopian janitors. Max Gomez is a welder. Dr. Grigor Papirian works at Regions Hospital.

The Cover and Title

The cover is the deep, dark green of night as we look down a forlorn alley, the neon green bright lights in the distance highlighting doorways and puddles on the pavement. The author’s name is red and large and in charge of the creamy Wicked Prey, the men Lucas and his team are after.