Book Review: John Sandford’s Field of Prey

Posted September 20, 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 Field of Prey

Field of Prey


John Sandford

It is part of the Lucas Davenport #24 series and is a detective mystery, mystery that was published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on May 6, 2014 and has 392 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, Hidden Prey, Broken Prey, Invisible Prey, Phantom Prey, Wicked Prey, Storm Prey, Buried Prey, Silken Prey, Stolen 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

Twenty-fourth in the Lucas Davenport detective mystery series and revolving around Lucas, a roving investigator handling sensitive cases. Based in Minneapolis/St. Paul and roaming all over.

My Take

Oh, lordy…*laughing*…Sandford starts out at one end and slides off to the other with the only person who didn’t know Layton was going to get laid, Layton himself. Too funny. Thankfully, Sandford does drop in relief moments to offset all the horror of this partnership.

Explaining the name to the FBI,

“In Minnesota, see, we actually apprehend the assholes, instead of just investigating them.”

Reading the description of the contents of that well is, well, gross. And even more gross when you think about what’s in that soup. What a great Halloween story this would make…urkkkh… Yeah, this is creepy and gruesome…and it gets worse, and then worse, at the end.

Thank god Sandford throws in the laughs here and there. You’ll need ’em. And I always enjoy reading about the Porsche-drivin’ thug who loves fine clothes, reads poetry, and is a reformed womanizer. He’s also rich with the sale of his gaming company, Davenport Solutions. Shaffer, though, he kept his nose clean and his life dull with his spreadsheets and notations.

I do love that Lucas thinks of the guys in the field. He always stops and picks up coffees, Cokes, waters, whatever is appropriate.

I cannot believe that Sands took off at the start of all this on a fishing trip. Although, you do have to admire Jenkins and Shrake’s style. I’m sure they’ll need those golf clubs down in Palm Beach as they investigate all those missing files. I’ll bet Del would love to trade places with them.

Frost is kind of stupid. She is so gung-ho to find the cops doing something bad or stupid, but she keeps putting her foot in it. She’s not much on the investigative reporting.

I know, I keep going off on how I don’t understand the bad guys’ thinking. How they can live with what they do. Somehow, these two are worse. They joke their way through as if it’s a game. As if it were a touch football game between them with their own private cheerleader.

Then R-A at the end with that “treat” he’s been promising himself. Jesus. What a coward he is. Big strong man has to weaken the bitty woman to prove himself. The things he’ll do… The things they’ve done…

The Story

The night after the fourth of July, Layton Carlson Jr. of Red Wing, Minnesota, finally got lucky. And unlucky.

He’d picked the perfect spot to lose his virginity to his girlfriend, an abandoned farmyard in the middle of cornfields: nice, private, and quiet. The only problem was…something smelled bad — like, really bad. He mentioned it to a county deputy he knew, and when the cop took a look, he found a body stuffed down a cistern. And then another, and another.

By the time Lucas Davenport was called in, the police were up to fifteen bodies and counting. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, when Lucas began to investigate, he made some disturbing discoveries of his own. The victims had been killed over a great many years, one every summer, regular as clockwork. How could this have happened without anybody noticing?

Because one thing was for sure: the killer had to live close by. He was probably even someone they saw every day…

The Characters

Detective Lucas Davenport heads up a mobile division within the BCA. He’s a collector who thrives on mysteries. Dr. Weather Karkinnen is his surgeon wife. Letty is their adopted daughter. Sam cries in his sleep because Letty is going to Stanford soon. Gabrielle is their youngest. Sister Mary Joseph, a.k.a., Elle Kruger, is a psychologist and Lucas’ oldest friend.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is…
…headed up by Henry Sands. Rose Marie Roux, one of Lucas’ friends and a longtime ally, is the commissioner of public safety and the BCA is under her purview. Charlie handles BCA’s media relations. Bob Rogers is the duty officer. Sandy works part-time as a kick-ass researcher.

Bob Shaffer, a data grinder, will run the investigation until Jon Duncan takes over. Bob is married to June, his high school sweetheart, and they have kids. More of the team includes Don Buford, Beatrice Sawyer leads the crime scene crew, and Hopping Crow is in the lab. Virgil Flowers is on vacation in New Mexico; he’s gonna play with Rick Johnson.

Detectives Jenkins and Shrake are focusing on Bryan, who got caught with a Ponzi scheme and skipped town. His now-ex-wife, Inga, a.k.a., Bloomie, lives in Palm Beach. Carrie Lee Pitt is his lover.

Del Capslock is one of his agents; Cheryl is his wife. He’s focused on a black market arms-dealing couple: Case and Waters from Sartell, Minnesota, based on Lucas’ ADB (Asshole Database). Stuckney, Carl Lanning (Jennie is his wife), and Artie Martinez are from ATF and working with Del. Miguel Colson and John Sanchez are also ATF.

There are 21 skulls to…
…identify: Janice Williams is, was, from Cannon Falls. Mary Lynn Carpenter, a candy store owner, disappeared from Durand. Doris Mead was the mother of Roger Douglas Mead who had been convicted of first-degree sexual assault. Heather Jorgenson is a waitress at Auntie’s, a diner in Fairbault. She’s also the one who got away. Luther Jorgensen was a relative. Rex is her boyfriend these days. Rachel Kline is a social worker.

Goodhue PD
Deputy Randy Lipsky is Layton’s older brother’s best friend. Deputy Catrin Mattson is the lead investigator. Deputies Mackey and Tom Greenhouse. Johnston is the crime-scene investigator. Sergeant McGraff. Kathleen was sorting through the departmental mail.

Owatonna PD
Detective Sergeant Ralph Bellman remembers the grave robberies.

Joe and Leon Murphy run Murphy’s Funeral Home in Owatonna. Toby deals in illegal skins, paws, and gallbladders. Maxine Knowles is an animal-rights activist hunting Toby. Raleigh Duane Cornwall is one of Toby’s and danged stupid.

Cathy Irwin. Roger Axel runs a hardware store; Dick, Gene, and Roy are some of his clerks. Gibbons is the Holbein funeral director. Blair Tucker is a well driller. Dan Weil, a civil engineer, has a private gun range. Andy O’Neill runs the local carpet store and is married to Lucy with a little girl, Janice. Randy and Sheela Carson and their sons, Bob and Don, never heard a thing. Nina is Don’s girlfriend. Sandy Rodriguez is the branch manager at the bank.

R-A and Jack Horn, the dogcatcher for Holbein, are a double act. One you don’t want to do an encore.

Zumbrota PD
Kaylee Scott is a grade-school witness with an eye for fame; Reggie and Carol Scott are her eager parents. Jane Windrew is Kaylee’s best friend and another witness. Of a different sort. Marge and Lanny Windrew are her parents and skeptical. Mark Sprick is the mailman.

Jim Burns. Harriet Card is found at the Black Hole; she lives, lived, with Glenda Hannah Shales.

Wisconsin’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI)…
…is similar to the BCA. Agent James Bole has worked with Lucas before.

Durand PD
Chief Carr invites Officer Lucy in to talk with Lucas.

Sandra and Clark Carpenter were Mary Lynn’s parents. Cindy Tucker bought the candy store after Mary Lynn disappeared. Andy is the Coke delivery guy. Melissa Saferstein is working at the Book Nook. Shelly Linebarger works at Andrew’s Rentals and is worried about Davis Tory, a book delivery guy.

Layton Burns, Jr., a high school jock and recent graduate, and Ginger Childs are finally going to do it. Lauren is Ginger’s best friend. Sally James owns a farm.

The media
Greg is an anchorman at Channel Three. Janet Frost is a Star-Tribune feature writer who disparages Lucas’ and Mattson’s accounts. Ruffe Ignace, a crime reporter who has worked with Lucas in the past, is so angry with Frost that he follows Manny Kent to Burger King.

Emmanuel “Manny” Kent is the angry brother of a serial bank robber, Doyle Kent. Manny is so mad that Lucas killed his brother… Dr. Betty Calvin is the prison psychiatrist who claimed Manny was a gentle soul.

Elmer Henderson is the governor and lends Lucas a plane. Jeff is at the FBO. Glen is one of the pilots.

The Cover and Title

The cover is dark and lonely with a yellow, green, and blue sunrise just peeking over the horizon of cornfields, a flock of birds swarming from the right. The author’s name is large against the dark sky while the distressed red in the title warns you in advance.

If I were literal (no snickering!), I’d say this was a Well of Prey, but Field of Prey can work. After all, it is a piece of land used for a particular purpose.