Book Review: Twisted Prey by John Sandford

Posted July 9, 2018 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: Twisted 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.

Twisted Prey by John Sandford
Series: Lucas Davenport #28
Genres: Thriller
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on April 24, 2018
Pages: 416
Format: eBook
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, Holy Ghost, Neon Prey, Bloody Genius, Masked Prey

Twenty-eighth in the Lucas Davenport thriller series and revolving around this U.S. marshal based in Minneapolis who works as a troubleshooter.

My Take

Twisted Prey starts with a crashing bang and goes on to scare the pants off me, even as I’m enjoying the snarky humor, thought, and action that flows throughout the Lucas Davenport character and series. Sandford even brings in Virgil Flowers (VF) for some of that byplay between the two men.

That Taryn Grant. She wants to be president, ’cause then she’ll “be the most important, looked-at person on the planet”. Yeah, that’s what we need, a psychopathic narcissist in the White House, dragging along her own set of special interests with absolutely no qualms about killing her way to her objective.

This line cracked me up: “She hoped to impress him with the plight of hapless billionaires facing unfair tax burdens.”

I do appreciate Lucas — and his cunning is well-profiled in that very last conversation with Wendy. Another character I had to admire, if only for her loyalty. As for the Ritter twins, it’s just sad. One goes in a decent direction, while the other, well, not. Lucky for the good twin that Lucas is a discerning cop. As for that Parrish… Why does the world need scum like him? He’s all mouth and nasty, but too weaselly to get his hands dirty.

A niggle rises up about Kidd’s wife. Did Sandford’s character bible get messed up or did Kidd swap out wives? Or maybe it’s a pseudonym for LuEllen??

I love that it’s third person global subjective point-of-view, as we get to view karma taking effect through the eyes of several of the major and minor characters. Lucas, naturally, has the primary perspective, and other perspectives come from Wendy, Taryn Grant, Jane Chase, Porter Smalls, Weather, Parrish, Claxson, McCoy, Moore, Ritter, and more, giving us plenty of “food for thought”, lots of action, and that insight for which Lucas is so famous.

Yep, it’s all about karma, and I so appreciate a chance to experience it. Most of our lives go by without the “baddies” getting hit with their just deserts — where we get to see it! — and this is a great story to feed our inner needs for vengeance. Yeah, it’s a third-party experience, but hey, I’ll take it.

The Story

It’s a possible source for Lucas, interesting investigations needed by politicians in trouble. Yeah, it makes him feel slightly corrupt, but hey, it’s interesting. It’s those behind-the-scene cases and Porter Smalls’ own experience that causes him to contact Lucas.

Porter knows whose behind that assassination attempt, and when the cops won’t believe him, he knows who will, for Porter Smalls is back in the Senate, right next to the woman who smeared him, and he’s not holding back on what he thinks of her.

Now Lucas and company just need to be cautiously aggressive…or is that aggressively cautious…who knows with those FBI types…? Anyway, it’ll just take a whiff.

The Characters

U.S. Marshal Lucas Davenport works out of Minneapolis and is rather bored with the lack of interesting crime. Dr. Weather Karkinnen is his surgeon wife, and they have three children: the adopted Letty who’s in her third year at Stanford University (Naked Prey, 14), Sam is in elementary school and sticks up for those who are bullied, and Gabrielle is the youngest. Helen is their housekeeper.

U.S. Marshals Rae Givens, a former university basketball player with a degree in art history, and Bob Matees, a former wrestler with a social work degree, work as a team in Special Operations Group in Louisiana and are friends of Lucas’. Russell Forte is Lucas’ nominal boss; Gabe O’Conner is Russell’s boss.

Washington D.C.
Senator Porter Smalls is a right-winger returned to his seat, a bit later (Silken Prey, 23). Cecily “CeeCee” Whitehead, a political junkie and a Republican Party moneywoman, was a very good friend of both Porter and his wife. She has two daughters who work in Hollywood. Mrs Smalls lives in Minneapolis with her Lithuanian boyfriend. Kitten Carter is Smalls’ chief of staff. Sally is his secretary.

Billionairess Senator Taryn Grant (Silken Prey) is on the Senate Intelligence Committee and talks to spooks. She prefers to work out of her SCIF, that’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility to you and me. Mabel Tate is her chief of staff. Jack Parrish, one heck of a hustling aide to Senator Grant, has a degree in economic geography and a background in Army intelligence, CIA, and several years with Heracles Personnel. Back in Minnesota, Frank Reese hands out cash in the family office.

West Virginia State Police
Investigator Carl Armstrong is no one’s fool and is investigating the supposed hit-and-run. Deputy Marlys Weaver has a good eye. Jane Kerr is a technician.

Bunson Towing is owned by Lawrie Bunson. Judge Benjamin Park is a nice fellow.

Frederick County Sheriff’s Department
Detective Roger Clark investigates the dumped body. Benjamin Woode is the pathologist. Gates is a medical examiner’s investigator.

Deputy Director Louis Mallard is a friend of Lucas’ (Easy Prey, 11; Mortal Prey, 13; Hidden Prey, 15; Dark of the Moon, VF 1; and, Storm Front, VF 7). The ambitious Special Agent Jane Chase is in charge on their end. Jake Ricardo is a team leader. Roger Smith is a computer specialist at Quantico. Andrew Moy is the daytime leader of the surveillance crew.

Steve Lapham is a Department of Justice prosecutor.

Watergate Hotel is…
yep, the same one that nailed Richard Nixon. Steve Schneider is their security chief. He wouldn’t mind if Lucas shot Mrs. Julia Benson. Jeff Toomes is one of his security people.

Heracles Personnel is…
…all about the mercenaries — lots of former SEALs, Delta, Force Recon, Rangers, etc. — with lots of complaints against these Heracles operatives. George Claxson is the director. Helen Oakes is his personal assistant. Former Master Sergeant James Harold Ritter is also getting checks from Flamma Consultants as are John McCoy and Kerry Moore. Luther Franklin, Arnold Buckram, and Ray Shelve are more operatives. Both Flamma and Heracles put together Inter-Core Ballistics, which has/had no experience, via Bishop Composites.

Charles Douglas is the main company attorney who lives in Great Falls; Rick Brown is another of their attorneys. Roy Bunch is McCoy’s attorney.

Tom Ritter is Jim’s twin brother and in Afghanistan with the Third Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Second Infantry Division. The crazy-scary Carol Ruiz, a.k.a., Suzie or Wendy, is Ritter’s girlfriend…and possibly a paramilitary agent for the CIA’s Special Activities Division/Special Operations Group.

Minneapolis-St. Paul
Kidd is an artist friend who is an expert in computer databases (The Kidd series as well as Chosen Prey, 12; Invisible Prey, 17; Silken Prey, 23; and, Extreme Prey, 26). Lauren/LuEllen?? is his wife. Detective Del Capslock is with the Minneapolis police department and a very good friend of Lucas’. Del’s wife is a nurse at Regions. The car belonged to Alice B. Stern. Douglas Garland Last‘s mother, Mary Last, claims her son had a number of issues. Detective Roger Morris is with St Paul Homicide. Detectives Virgil Flowers (Sam is his girlfriend’s youngest boy) and Catrin Mattson are with the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Rose Marie Roux is the head of the Department of Public Safety. Soucheray is a columnist.

Charlie Knight is a fellow U.S. marshal who works out of Dallas and has a similar background in Homicide. Jesùs Rojas Molina was in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Bobby Wise didn’t like certain of Molina’s activities.

Congressman Daniel Benson has a wayward daughter. A senator from Wyoming is finding shot wolves all over his ranch.

Janet Walker is a contractor who does caretaking at Smalls’ cabin in West Virginia. Warren Beasley is a crook Givens and Matee were chasing. Gerald and Marie Blake have the wrong license plate. Lucas got a tip to ask for Ted at a men’s tailor shop. He’s such a clotheshorse. And he pulls Bob right in, lol. Joe Rose, former CIA and using the alias Donald R. Ligny, is now a contract researcher. Gladys Ingram is a partner in a law firm and still angry about the Malone Materials case. James T. Knapp is a preacher. Colonel Horace Stout knew Parrish in Iraq. Mrs. Snyder is the manager at Ritter’s apartment building. Jasim Nagi is an Islamic garbage truck driver in New Jersey. Mrs. Woods was in the wrong place.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a black background with lines of blood red twisting out from just above center with the text all angled upwards along its own twist from left to right. The author’s name at the top and the title at the bottom (along with an promotional blurb) are in white while the series information is in a smaller red font between the two with the black as background. Simple. Effective.

The title is all about Taryn Grant, Lucas’ Twisted Prey.

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