Selling author John Sandford has another winner with his recent
book, Field Of Prey. It is an intense mystery thriller
that explores the world of serial killers. The suspenseful
plot moves along at a fast pace with the cat and mouse game
between the BCA detective, Lucas Davenport, and the serial
The story begins with a teenage couple losing their innocence,
and then smelling something really bad. After the police come
to investigate they find a body stuffed in a well, eventually
discovering twenty-one skulls. The female victims had been
killed over a great many years, one every summer, regular
as clockwork. The story takes several unexpected turns with
Lucas becoming more and more emotionally engaged. In this
novel Lucas appears to know all of the facts he needs to solve
the case; yet is unable to connect the dots. All the while,
girls are going missing and dying at the hands of a serial
killer. The only slight problem with the plot is the small
scenes with Virgil Flowers, the main character of his other
series, also a BCA detective. Because of the intense plot
and great character portraits the few parts of the book that
included Flowers was a distraction because he was working
on a completely separate unrelated case.
The characters are very well developed, believable, and have
the reader rooting for and against them depending on if they
are good or bad. Lucas Davenport is part Hollywood part policeman.
He drives around in a Porsche and Mercedes wearing fancy clothes
but is also a very good father and husband who cares about
his family. Davenport is a guy doing a job he loves while
making sure the bad guys don't win. There are also the familiar
characters: Del Capstock, Rose Marie Roux, agent Virgil Flowers
and Davenport's family. A new face, Goodhue County Deputy
Catrin Mattsson, is the female version of Davenport. She is
tough, pretty, refuses to bow to authority, and has a take
no prisoners attitude.
Because he made the serial killer so wicked and evil, Sandford
stated that he tried very hard not to "go into great
detail with the graphic scenes. I had to walk a thin line
not to make it too graphic. I intentionally did not put in
a description of the rapes themselves."
Also, within recent Sandford books is a social commentary
on a certain issue. The author does this without getting heavy
handed or appearing to lecture the readers. Many times he
gets his point across through humor. In this book he has a
few including describing someone who is schizophrenic and
a personal comment on how he views the media today with a
book quote that pretty much summarized it all, "Fu-in
media." Sandford has multiple scenes in the book where
the media becomes an impediment to the investigation, spins
the facts the wrong way, or outright distorts the truth.
He noted "This is a developing attitude of mine. As a
newspaper reporter I took my job seriously. Today a lot of
newspaper reporters feel they need to add their voice. The
problem is most reporters are idiots without much knowledge.
I am not saying they are not smart, they are. But they are
trying to express an opinion when they do not have enough
facts on hand. They simply do not have enough time to learn
things as they cover different issues on different days, such
as business one day and the school board the next. They are
no longer reporting what is happening but are reporting what
they think is happening. I am very discouraged by our state
of the media. We don't want the reporters' opinion we want
to formulate our own."
In his next two books there will also be some social issues
covered. Due out this July will be a young adult novel, a
series of three, entitled Uncaged. The plot has a boy
with Asperger Syndrome, a computer genius who is socially
retarded becoming an animal rights radical. He joins a group
that raids an Oregon animal laboratory and finds that there
are criminal elements involved with this lab. The boy goes
on the run to save himself with his sister who is trying to
The other book due out in the fall will be another Virgil
Flower's novel. The story has a school board ripping off its
school district of millions of dollars. After a drunken reporter
finds out the school board decides to kill him. Once again,
Sandford allows his feelings about the media to come through
but also discusses animal rights in this book as well. He
has Flowers initially investigating those involved in stealing
dogs and selling them to medical facilities for research.
As in all Sandford books there is a riveting mystery with
added humor. Field of Prey has many twists and turns.
This novel is extremely fast-paced that allows the reader
to get into the mind of a serial killer, the victims, and
the police investigation.