Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Invisible Prey - John Sandford

Lucas Davenport worked on two important cases in this book. The president of the state senate molested a 15 year-old girl and a murder of one of the richest women in St Paul, while an election was coming near. In the course of investigation, the two cases would entwine with each other.

Since in the first case Lucas only supervised, the main story in this book was the murder, which at first look seemed like a usual robbery. The culprit would be lucky if it had not been Lucas Davenport who did the investigation. “Most cops are dumber than a bowl of spaghetti,” said the culprit. Lucas soon found that there had been similar murders and the thief took antiques which were not too valuable nor insured, but still worth a lot; so that the heirs wouldn’t be suspiciousà thus the title ‘Invisible Prey’.

The plots were simpler (than previous books in Prey series), yet I almost couldn’t put this down. I had to put it down anyway because I had to work in the next morning. I liked how Lucas had a soft spot Gabriella Coombs, who insisted that he looked into her grandmother’s death, which made him able to draw a link among the cases. The murder happened to be in Lucas's hometown, so at the end of the day he could go home and spend time with his family.

In the end of the story, the police found the body of someone named Theodore Lane. I could only assume that it was one of the killer’s victims, because there was no further explanation.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Broken Prey - John Sandford

Finished this last night and I think this is one of the best books in the Prey series. Lucas Davenport from Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was called by his best friend Sloan, a homicide detective from Minneapolis PD, to look at a body – a murder victim. A week later, a sheriff from Blue Earth County contacted him about two murder victims in Mankato, who Lucas believed had been murdered by the same man. The horrible nature of the killings made the police believe that whoever did them was insane and that they must have caught him before he did another one.

I have read many detective stories where the murders were extraordinarily cruel, like the writer tried to depict how violent a human being could do to another, to depict the most horrible methods of torture they could imagine or dig out from the middle age era, and in the end of the book the explanation given on why was simply because the killer was insane. Broken Prey was one of the rare occasions where the plots were well woven that it was convincing enough, that the writer didn’t give the readers an insane murderer just because he couldn’t have thought of a better reason.

For a cheerful side plot, Weather gave Lucas an iPod for his birthday and a gift certificate for 100 songs and he determined to limit them to exactly 100 rock songs as an invitation for discipline. He made a list and the word had spread among his friends. The main story was so dark, therefore suggestions about what songs should be on the list in the middle of dialogues, made the situation a little better. From the way they talked about it, I thought the songs were hard rock. I didn’t know most of the songs they were talking about, but when the list was revealed I recognized several, and some of those several I myself would call them ‘easy listening’ instead of rock. The last one was even the kind of song we could listen from a classic FM radio--> there was a reason for this, though.

Unlike most of Prey series where the killer is revealed from the beginning, in Broken Prey we didn’t know who the killer was until Lucas finally got very lucky near the end and found out about him. It was a tiring police work to find a killer, like it should be, where our hero and his group must read tons of reports, visit crime scenes, talk to witnesses, etc. The killer taunted them, planting false clues, calling a journalist and feeding stories to him. It was a nightmare when the police failed to save the third victim. “Not something I’d want to see a second time,” said Sloan after seeing the body.

Strangely, I was satisfied with the conclusion – where Lucas was left with a broken upper arm, a black eye, and a cracked nose. The best, however, was in Night Prey, when he was crippled after a fight. “Blood was pouring from Lucas’s nose, down his shirt, and he was standing with one shoulder a foot lower than the other, crippled, hung over the balcony.”

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hidden Prey - John Sandford

Lucas Davenport had run the Office of Regional Research at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for six months now. An ex-KGB agent had been shot to death in Duluth and the investigation came to a dead end. The dead man’s father was an important man in oil industry and the Russian government sent an observer to see what the FBI and Duluth cops had been doing with the case. Lucas was assigned to accompany this observer and, hopefully, to solve the case if he could.

Working together with a Russian, there were a couple of times when Lucas had to explain American things to her. They were quite interesting to read although I think for an intelligence she should have been learning a lot more about America before flying over.

Being a state cop now, Lucas had to drive around a lot. When he had still been a city cop, he mostly had been in Minneapolis and St. Paul only. His work area was much wider now and must work together with the FBI and local cops. In Minneapolis Police Department, almost everybody knew who he was; but now many didn’t know him and in one occasion he was shot and arrested by local cops while he was chasing a suspect. He had also been trying to be a good husband and I must give him two thumbs, the way he handled Weather when she broke the garage door. It was a very annoying situation and actually, being a surgeon, I expected her to be better than that.

Compared to other Prey books, I don’t really like this one. The spy ring story was not exciting, although I still enjoyed reading about the murders and the investigation. In the end, the killer might only get a light sentence because Lucas himself didn’t pursue the case hard.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Naked Prey - John Sandford

Lucas Davenport had left Minneapolis Police Department, married to Weather, and got a baby boy named Sam. His house had been renovated and bigger than before. He followed his old boss - now the head of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Lucas’s new job was designated “Director, Office of Regional Studies”: to fix crime for the governor.

Two naked bodies were found, hanging from a tree in countryside, a few miles outside Armstrong. One white woman, one black man. The governor was afraid that this might be a lynching, so Lucas Davenport was sent over to cover the case. Working with his friend Del Capslock, FBI, BCA, local cops and also with a 12 year-old Letty West, Lucas soon found that it had not been a lynching, but murders. The story got interesting because victims had done something bad in the past. I think this is the first time Lucas didn’t solve the whole crime - although the book does end well.

Naked Prey is one of my favourite books from the Prey series – although when I think about it, I actually enjoyed reading each one of them. I liked this book because of the plot twists and, most of all, because the relationship between Lucas and Letty West. Letty West was independent, took care of her drunken mom, and had a bad mouth. She reminded me of this character from a Japanese series, Shuzu Aishawa.

Letty West was the witness who had seen the murderer’s car. Lucas and Del first talked to her to hear her story, but then they met her often because she knew a lot about the locals and the town. She was not only a witness, she was a wit. Lucas’s behaviour towards her seemed rude, but later we could see that he cared about her a lot. There was this warm scene where Lucas picked her up and cradled her when she was hurt, calling her ‘honey’- while earlier in that day he threatened her that he would poison her if she lost his watch – which he was lending to her.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mortal Prey - John Sandford

In Mortal Prey, hitwoman Clara Rinker from Easy Prey was back. At the end of Easy Prey, she fled from Minneapolis and Deputy Chief Lucas Davenport. In the beginning of Mortal Prey, she was having a quiet happy life in Mexico with her boyfriend, son of a local druglord. Then a sniper shot her boyfriend to death, while she was injured and lost her baby. She knew that it had to be her old bosses in St. Louis who had given the order, so she went back to St Louis and executed the 4 people who she believed had been responsible.

The FBI tried to catch Rinker for murders for years and because Lucas Davenport knew about Clara Rinker than any other law officers, they recruited him. The FBI was described here as a bunch of people who didn’t know what they should do, even though they had all the files and technology. Lucas knew that the federal agents looked down on him, so he worked with local cops instead and got useful informations which helped the FBI.

Clara Rinker was an antagonist character we could sympathize with. She could be a heroine in a movie. Like in “Tony Arzenta” (1972), for example, where Tony avenged the death of his wife and son, who had been killed in a car-bomb after he told his mafia boss that he wanted to get out, by killing his ex-bosses one by one. Throughout the book I hoped that Lucas could never catch her. I even wondered by the FBI went after her and not her bosses. The FBI had known that Clara had had bosses who ordered the murders, and who had been more guilty: the brain or the hand? Perhaps both had been as guilty, but to go after Clara and protect her ex-bosses? I think I prefer the police didn’t do anything at all and let them kill each other.

There was this sentence describing what Lucas did after arriving in St Louis: “He dumped his bag on the bed, powdered his nose, splashed water on his face, and opened the envelope.” I thought only we, women, powdered our noses. Maybe pretty men do it, but my impression on Lucas was: he was a tough guy. Also if after powdering his nose, he splashed water on his face, the powder would be gone with the water, right? So what was the point? Perhaps the powder was waterproofed? And where he got the nose powder from? Was the hotel room prepared it or he always carried it in his bag?

I also cannot understand how Americans could drink Coke (even if it is a diet coke) before breakfast. Perhaps it’s from habit. I myself would get a diarrhea.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Chosen Prey - John Sandford

In Chosen Prey, we meet James Qatar, an art history professor who loved to play with Photoshop. He took a pornographic photograph from internet, replaced the head with a woman’s he knew, converted it into a drawing, and sent it to the woman by mail anonymously to annoy her. Years went by and the police found a body of Julie Aronson, who had been missing for 1 ½ years, in a hillside south of Hastings. When they did a thorough search in that area, more bodies were found.

Apart from the usual companions, Deputy Chief Lucas Davenport got a help from Terry Marshall, a smart deputy sheriff from Menomonie - Wisconsin, whose niece had been missing nine years ago, apparently also one of the Aronson’s killer’s victims. Lucas knew from the start that Terry Marshall should not be working the case, but it was Marshall who brought new facts to his attention, that Aronson’s killer had been doing it for years. Marshall’s niece mentioned to her friend that her boyfriend – the killer - looked like Edward Fox in Day of the Jackal. As we can see in pic below, he looked like most white men, I mean, nothing very special about the face. He could easily blend with the crowd. I have seen numerous films with Edward Fox and he usually was in small parts or not-small-parts and I usually don't think about him after the movie ended. I even believe that if Marshall's niece mentioned this character, it was because she recently saw the movie and liked it very much. So ordinary it was, that when the picture of the killer - who was supposed to be like Edward Fox - was passing around, no one recognized him - not even his own mother.

Edward Fox in Day of The Jackal (1973)
I think the conclusion was a bit flat. My favourite is The Eyes of Prey’s: Lucas Davenport hit Michael Bekker’s beautiful face with a gun, in rage. In this book, he only watched the killer being executed. Although usually the bad guys in Prey series ended up dead, it was still disappointing to read how our hero raced to the place of execution only to be a watcher. He did become a bit soft because of Weather’s influence.

Lucas Davenport was together with Weather again, planning to have a kid or two. There was also a political problem and perhaps Lucas and his boss would lose their jobs in the police department. The governor liked the way they handled the case, though.

The new Porsche was a C4 and it was supposed to look like this: