Book Review: Neon Prey by John Sandford

Posted July 19, 2019 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: Neon Prey by John Sandford

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.

Neon Prey by John Sandford
Series: Lucas Davenport #29
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
on April 23, 2019
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

Buy on Amazon
Also in this series: Rough Country

Also by this author: Rules of Prey, Shadow Prey, Eyes of Prey, Easy Prey, Chosen Prey, Invisible Prey, Phantom Prey, Wicked Prey, Gathering Prey, Dark of the Moon, Heat Lightning, Rough Country, Bad Blood, Shock Wave, Storm Front, Deadline, Extreme Prey, Escape Clause, The Fool's Run, Deep Freeze, The Empress File, Twisted Prey, Holy Ghost, Bloody Genius, Masked Prey

Twenty-ninth in the Lucas Davenport mystery-thriller series and revolving around a deputy US marshal with an outrageous approach to apprehending the bad guys.

My Take

Yep, it’s a gruesome and thrilling read — action-packed and character-driven, and still I was disappointed in Lucas’ portrayal. He didn’t feel as involved in Neon Prey as in previous stories. It sure felt as though Rae and Bob were more of a focus than Lucas — I suspect Sandford is setting up Rae Givens and Bob Matees for their own series. And it’s Tremanty’s inclusion that introduces this new dynamic — and discloses — answers to some of my questions about Rae and Bob.

Usually, I read just as fast as I can and can’t stop until I’m done. This one, well, I gotta confess, I thought the pace was rather slow. I started this book mid-June, and it was easy to set aside for a few weeks. Not a good sign in my, ahem, book when it comes to Lucas Davenport.

It’s that third person global subjective point-of-view that gives us insight into the thoughts and emotions of the good guys and the bad guys. And the latter are pretty nasty!

That two-house set-up was a great idea. So is the idea of a house made up of concrete blocks — bulletproof. Then again, there are times when family is such a burden. And I don’t think much of Deese’s family. Yuck. *Laughing*, his family should have reconsidered helping him out.

I’m surprised Lucas made such a stupid move in that raid. It sure doesn’t help that he has an older body, too much like the rest of us who think we’ll be invincible forever…and then we learn the truth. Ack!

The most exciting personal bit from Lucas is the big decision Letty has to make, and Lucas takes the stress out for her.

“That’s a pretty heavy burden. Thinking for yourself.”

Fortunately, the humor is still intact with plenty of Keystone Cop activity, as Lucas, Rae, and Bob chase the cannibal all over the US. I cracked up about the woman at the federal building in Vegas who told Lucas he’s world famous.

I do love the epilogue where Sandford sums up what happens to everyone. It does satisfy my desire to know, lol. Although, I ain’t buyin’ Rae and Tremanty. Sure there was a lot of talk, but I don’t recall any action until this last chapter.

The Story

Clayton Deese is on the run from his, relatively, small-time crime. A big mistake as it leads the cops to his home with some gruesome discoveries.

Discoveries that set the US Marshal Service, and Lucas Davenport, on the trail of this serial killer who’s on the run and looking for family.

The Characters

The poetry-loving Deputy US Marshal Lucas Davenport has a Minnesota office, but works out of Washington D.C. Lucas, due to a political arrangement, can pick and choose his own cases, usually chasing down hard-core killers. Dr Weather Karkinnen is his wife and a plastic surgeon, and they live in Minnesota. Letty is their adopted daughter who’s away at school at Stanford. There are two Sams at the end: Lucas’ nine-year-old son and Frankie’s son.

US Marshals
Rae Givens and Bob Matees are both US marshals based in Louisiana who frequently work with Lucas. Rae has a degree in art history and had been a starting guard on an NCAA championship basketball game. Bob had been a wrestler at university.

Russell Forte is technically Lucas’ boss. Sally is his assistant. Hal Oder is the US marshal for Minnesota and must keep hands off Lucas. Special Operations Group (SOG) is a heavy-duty SWAT squad.

Special Agent Sandro Tremanty is in charge of the Louisiana burial site. Agent Cory Laid works old bodies. Special Agent Terry McCullough loses the vote. Deputy Director Louis Mallard is friends with Lucas. Earl is the overnight phone guy.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is…
…the state police. Virgil Flowers is a BCA agent who just found out he’ll be the father of twins in six or seven months (Escape Clause, 9). Lol, he’s worried his mother will move in with him and Frankie! Shrake and Jenkins are partners with the BCA, scary looking ones.

Sloan retired from Homicide and now owns a bar (Invisible Prey, 17). Senator Elmer Henderson is the former governor of Minnesota who took Lucas along with him.

Clayton Deese looks like what he is, nasty. Carolanne Pouter is his cleaning lady. A lawyer, Roger “Rog” Smith, is a loan shark with links to organized crime. “Dick”, a.k.a., Richard/Ricardo Santos, a.k.a., Thomas R Hobbs, works in-house as Rog’s assistant and has a degree in chemistry. Dixon. Larry Buck stands in for Santos when Santos is out of town. Bailee “Bill” Wheelwright had been Rog’s girlfriend who moved to Chicago.

Remy’s is a low-rent bar. Howell Paine isn’t much of a human being for so many reasons, and he’s unwilling to pay back a debt. Judge “Cash” McConnell earned his nickname.

Los Angeles
Detective LuAnne Rocha is with the Robbery Special Section with the LAPD and has a particular interest in home invasions, along with Detectives Lewis Lake and Darrell MacIntosh.

Marion “Marty” Beauchamp, a.k.a., Martin Keller, Martin Lawrence, Raymond Carter, Raymond Sherman, Harold Weeks, is Deese’s half-brother. The rest of his crew includes Jayden Nast, a frightener with an M16; John Rogers Cole, a.k.a., Doug Moyers who owns a BMW, loves David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest; and, Randy Vincent, a.k.a., Jacob Barber, is “without sin”. Genesis “Geenie” Cox is more of a bar babe who is totally cool with the gang’s idea of redistributed wealth.

Tommy Saito owns Flower Child’s, a bar in Venice, California. Heather is his assistant. Oliver Harr is the doorman who operates a…”switchboard”. Barbara Jackman, a.k.a., Suzie-Q, is one of the divorcées who frequent the bar. Eagle Rocks is a grubby club. Stephen Barnett and Luis Jiminez are a gay couple in the construction business who are moving to San Diego.

Las Vegas
Carl Young is the Vegas marshal. Bart Mallow is an investigator. Lieutenant Tom Harvey is running the scene at the first house they find where Officer Chuck Armie can be found. Assistant Sheriff Deborah Case and Officer Lenny help look for the second house in Windmill Lane.

Toni and Cal Wright (he’s a casino exec from Cyril’s) had a run of bad luck. Kerry Black is a college student renting a trailer. She has a black-and-white dog named Willa. Suzanne Belperron had been a jewelry designer. Jim Harrelson is a golf hustler and gambler who has a trunkful of money; Gloria is Jim’s wife. Dopey is Harrelson’s golf partner and a drinker. Larry O’Conner is an old friend of Marty’s from their AA days. Alvin Gems & Jewelry is a front for Ray and Louise Alvin. Loco’s Consignment & Furs is another. Tommy and Bobby Eli are brothers. Ely is a state prison. Joan rents out houses. Jennette English is a reporter.

The very disgusting Ralph Deese, Clayton and Marion’s uncle, is a gold miner who lives in Beatty.

Lugnuts was a tough who’d been looking for Deese some years ago. Slocum Haynes is a zillionaire offering up a fabulous internship. George Wilks had been the leader of the London gang.

The Cover and Title

The cover is neon bright and all the text is angled from left to right with those “neon tubes” providing the lime green rounded “towel bars” for the plain white info information at the top right and the series information in blue between the author’s name and the title, as well as the lime green vertical series of “towel bars” to the right of the first word of the title. The author’s name is in a brilliant, deep yellow justified left with a white highlight going through the center of each letter. The title is left justified at the bottom in blues with that same white highlight through the centers. All against a black background with the author’s name and title as block letters with shadows behind them. It’s a great metaphor for bright, shiny Las Vegas.

The title is that last stand in Las Vegas, when the marshals track down their Neon Prey.

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