John Sandford is a favorite author of millions of readers for a number of reasons because the talent the writer possesses to tell a story is exceptional. One of the first novels that caught my attention was part of the Prey series, Night Prey.  The series story lines evolve around the Minneapolis police detective Lucas Davenport and his adventures down the dark hallways of death through homicides taking place in the Minnesota Twin Cities area. I live in the Midwest and visit the Twin Cities quite often and having this author name places and destinations that I have visited on my trips is both exciting and mind blowing and add to my reading pleasure.

Main character

The Prey series of books, such as Hidden Prey and Mind Prey, chronicle detective Lucas Davenport and his unconventional methods used to solve homicides. Detective Davenport along with an extraordinary family of fellow detectives uses unique and remarkable talent to hunt down bizarre and uncommon killers committing crimes in the Midwest state of Minnesota.  

John Sandford details a group of detectives that support Davenport through his struggles with ethics, integrity and honor as an officer of the law. Inner torments Davenport faces as he fights demons both past and present make this character a hero of the novel as well as likable and tolerable who fights to stay within the law to catch bad guys that don’t.

The methods and means the Davenport detective character uses skate the rim of being legal time and time again. Sandford takes this police officer and his team outside of the law when they need to be for solving crime.

Not only does this extraordinarily likable detective solve the crime, but he also answers the question as to why the crook committed a spiteful act. This can be missing in a lot of novels. There are even some Prey novels where a reader could actually envision a crime as justified and have some sympathy for persons usually found unsympathetic. This takes an enormous amount of writing talent to convey these turbulent feelings that engage readers in a crime story.

On a personal note, Sandford takes Lucas’ talent for unraveling crimes and getting the bad guy in the Prey series of books to making him a great businessman. Lucas fashions computer software for the police department that amass the detective a fortune in the bank.  This is Sandford manufacturing subplots that are both interesting and put a twist on a character that could have become mundane and boring as stories progress through more than a few books.

Supporting characters

All of the police detectives working with Davenport to thwart crime are unusual and unique in what they bring to the table to solve hideous crimes occurring against another human being. Both detectives and suspects make up a rabble of people that cross economic, social and religious lines. Men and women are part of the team and Sandford even adds a little incorrect political banter and situations that keep it real.

Crimes solved by the team are nasty and appalling in nearly all cases. A number of the felonies are offensive and cruel while being committed in small towns in and around the Twin Cities by persons least suspected.

Detective Lucas Davenport has a wife, Winter, a professional working woman that supports her man along with being the main character of several of the detective mystery novels. As a surgeon at one of the largest children’s hospitals in America, she still finds time to be a terrific wife and mother. Winter started out in the series as one of several different girlfriends and evolved to become Lucas’ wife.

Winter and Lucas have two children, an infant and a teenager. The teenager has also been the object of a killer and was adopted by Davenport and his wife after capturing the killer in one book plot. This is an example of subplots in Sandford’s books that are spicy and exciting along with being a surprise that readers don’t see coming.

Nearly all of the characters have experienced a brush with death that makes readers hold their breath in a number of Prey novels. Any characters that fall prey to death are indeed a surprise and wonder, but add depth to the story being told by this talented writer.

The bad guy characters

Along with making the bad characters or antagonist close to someone likable, Sandford works to make the protagonist unlikable in a number of cases. This is part of creating a series of mysteries readers love. For the most part Sandford always has the villain as a person a reader least suspects and a reader cannot entirely hate.

Sandford’s wicked characters are interesting and unusual with individual personalities and temperament flaws that make them who they are and who a reader loves to hate. A number of these persons you would possibly meet on the street and pass by without a second thought. Others would cause you to cross the street to avoid being close all depending on the storyline and setting in several of Sandford’s Prey novels.

Dialogue and storyline

Dialogue of the Prey books is detailed and exceptionally descriptive. He takes the time to make the characters speak in their own language matching their personalities and backgrounds as well as adding a little inappropriate language here and there when it adds to the storyline.

There are always surprising scenarios and subplots that leave a reader experiencing shock at twists and turns a reader couldn’t possibly see coming. Stories are always supported with great detail and action packed pages of narrative from this writer.

Every reader that loves the detective novels of who dunnit can certainly more than enjoy John Sandford and any book he pens under the Prey title. This is a writer with enormous direction, vision and commitment to making readers satisfied and happy with clever plots and storylines that will keep a bookworm guessing to the end. The surprise is never a disappointment and makes fans look forward to the next one on the shelf under this author’s name.

In the end detective Davenport solves the “who done it” of the book. Each book amazes readers when a crime is eventually solved which puts the Prey novels above a number of books on the market today that miss the mark on this point.

In conclusion

There is a heightened sense of anticipation when reading Sandford's books for the next one and the one after that. Readers that love one Prey writing work will certainly love the others. This is a series that works whether a reader explores the books in the historical order of when they were actually created or finds they read book three first and book one last.

Whether reading begins with delving into Invisible Prey or Naked Prey, there will not be any disappointment reading these books out of series order. Jump in wherever Sandford leads and become immediately engrossed in the storyline of each book.

Anyone that would like to read a great who dunnit novel of the 21st century should pick up one of John Sandford’s Prey series novels for reading pleasure.