“Secret Prey” by John Sandford

Sandford, John. Secret Prey (1998)  
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 392 pages, $24.95 hardcover  
ISBN 0 399 14382 3

After an interlude with Anna Batory on the West Coast, in Secret Prey John Sandford puts detective Lucas Davenport back to work in Minneapolis. Daniel S. Kresge, chairman of the board, president, and CEO of the Polaris Bank System, is murdered at his cabin in northern Minnesota on the first day of deer-hunting season. Accompanying Kresge on this hunting trip are four of the bank’s top employees, all of whom have a motive for killing him. Minneapolis police chief Rose Marie Roux assigns the case to Lucas because she thinks he needs a high-adrenaline case to counteract the onset of depression caused by the departure of his former fiancée.

The reader learns about half way through who the bad guy is. This approach is not unusual for Sandford. His readers often know who’s guilty but are caught up in the suspense of whether Lucas can catch the guilty party before someone else is killed. However, I sense a shift of emphasis here. Sandford seems more willing to explore the character involved rather than simply relying on the action of the plot to carry the story. This shift adds a bit more depth and interest than usual. The change is welcome enough that Sandford can even be forgiven for the commonly used psychological type he employs as the villain.

Followers of Lucas Davenport will not be disappointed in this latest installment.

© 1998 by Mary Daniels Brown

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