10 October 2013

Bullet Review: Buried Prey by John Sandford

Buried Prey by John SandfordMany of my mystery-loving friends have recommended John Sandford's Prey series, featuring the detecting abilities of Minneapolis-St. Paul–based Lucas Davenport. One of the reasons I haven't given any of the books a try until now is that the series is a daunting twenty-three books long.

Until relatively recently, I would have been stopped cold because I had an almost obsessive need to read series in order from first to last. The thought of starting in somewhere in the middle was unthinkable. Fortunately, I've moved beyond that: Yes it's often better to begin at the beginning, but I was missing out on some good reading by being inflexible. I was lucky in picking Buried Prey, a totally fortuitous jumping-off place.

  • Simple summary: Lucas Davenport, who works for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension started his detective career in 1985 when he was a patrol cop in the Twin Cities. Buried Prey takes Davenport back to his very first case, when he was tapped to help find two sisters who were presumably kidnapped and murdered; that case was unsatisfactorily solved. When the girls' bodies are finally discovered about twenty years later, Davenport makes it his business to find the real killer.
  • Lucky introduction: Because this novel shows us two Davenports—one as a young, callow rookie and the other as a harden, respected detective—it is a great place to get a feel for Sandford's Prey series. Although I didn't get to know Davenport slowly over the course of the books, I was given a chance to compare the man he used to be with the one he is now.
  • Characters, plotting, & action: I was fascinated with Davenport as a man. He is intelligent and doesn't make decisions lightly. He may have been (and still is?) a bit of renegade, but his actions are calculated, not reckless. The plotting was tight, the details were just right, and the tension built up beautifully. The interplay between the action of the case (in both time periods) and Davenport's personal life was nicely balanced.
  • Point of interest: I particularly liked the differences in technology and resources from 1985 to the present. Computers, cell phones, electronic data bases, and DNA analysis are drastically different today from what they were almost thirty years ago.
  • Note on the author: John Sandford is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, who spent many years as a reporter in the Twin Cities; his knowledge of the locale brings an authenticity to Lucas Davenport's world.
  • Thoughts on the audiobook: I listened to the unabridged audiobook (Penguin Audio; 10 hr, 57 min) read by Richard Ferrone, who narrates (as far as I can tell) the entire Prey series. I'm a Ferrone fan, and he didn't let me down with Buried Prey. His comfort with Sandford's writing and characters comes through in the audio production. Ferrone's characterizations, Midwest accent, and pacing matched the book well.
  • Recommendation: Great choice for mystery/thriller fans who like a tough but personable detective, a tense story line, and vivid details. Perfect entry point for readers who don't want to start with book one of a long series.
Penguin USA / Putnam Adult, 2011
ISBN-13: 9780399157387
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


Sandy Nawrot 10/10/13, 6:46 AM  

I just have to say that I LOVE this series. I have read every. single. one. Back before blogging (way before blogging) I went on a bender. I got to see him in his womanizing days, I got to see him meet Weather and get that scar at the base of his throat, I got to see him solidify all those friendships. So I particularly adored this flashback. I felt like I was getting a peek into the life of someone I knew very well. My only problem is that when new books come out, I'm never quite sure if I've read it because I get the names all confused.

rhapsodyinbooks 10/10/13, 6:49 AM  

I read one of his and liked it - not sure why I didn't continue except as you say, the idea of picking up on such a commitment seems very daunting!

Dana Tanaro Britt 10/10/13, 8:16 AM  

I've read most, if not all, in the Lucas Davenport series--I really enjoy the character. Even though I'm not as into the genre as I used to be--I have to be in the mood for murder and read it in the daylight these days *shakin' head*

Do you think you'll read more in this series?


bermudaonion 10/10/13, 8:19 AM  

I love this series too. I don't think I've read every book in this series but I've read a lot of them. Lucas is a great character!

(Diane) bookchickdi 10/10/13, 9:03 AM  

When I ran a used book sale, we had so many copies of the Prey series, they were hugely popular. I did not know he was a Pulitzer Prize winner, how interesting.

Daryl 10/10/13, 11:22 AM  

i love this series .. one of the things i love most is that Sandford has allowed Lucas to grow as a person ... you picked a good place to start

Literary Feline 10/10/13, 2:18 PM  

The one book I've read in this series was somewhere in the middle. I really enjoyed it and keep meaning to go back and start from the beginning.

Much like you, I used to be a stickler for starting at the beginning of a series, am not so much so anymore. I often read later books in series for the same reasons you sited.

I am glad you enjoyed this book! I can see why it was a good starting place!

Katy McCoy 10/10/13, 9:26 PM  

I haven't read this series yet - I often don't like the really popular series. They get a little formulaic. But I might try his first in this series - unlike you, I still need to read in order. It wrecks the earlier books for me to read a later one first - and I would love a 23 book series! But what I really wanted to ask - what are you doing when you listen to a 10 hour book? I listen to audio books in my car and even though I drive a fair amount, it usually takes two weeks to finish a 10 hour book. I have also started listening to them as I quilt but it's still two weeks. I'm a much faster reader. Share!

Beth F 10/10/13, 9:45 PM  

@Katie: I wrote a post about this a couple of years ago here. Basically I listen whenever I can. That means every evening after work while I walk and make dinner. In the mornings I listen when getting dressed. I listen at lunch. I listen when I shop. I don't have kids and my husband is self-amused, so I have more time than most people, I guess.

Nikki - Notes of Life 10/12/13, 11:25 AM  

My first John Sandford book was from the Virgil Flowers series, although Davenport also appeared in the book. I keep meaning to read more of the books and I really enjoyed Mad River.

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 10/15/13, 12:00 PM  

I finally jumped in to the middle of this series too, although I would like to go back to the beginning someday.

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