Monday, June 23, 2014

Field of Prey - John Sandford

Field of Prey was only published last month. I had read many negative reviews on but after reading it myself, I think I like this book after all.

Two teenagers found a cistern full of dead bodies in Red Wing. It seemed the killer had killed one young girl every summer and had been doing it for many years. Lucas Davenport from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was asked by his boss to take a look at the case, named The Black Hole case. Bob Shaffer led the investigation, but with Lucas’s help the case should be able to be solved much sooner because the governor wanted to be the next vice president. At that time, Lucas had been working on a case of a disappearance of the suspect who had run a Ponzi scheme on a St Paul investment company.

The Ponzi scheme suspect was finally seen in Florida, so Lucas sent his thugs, Jenkins and Shrake, to pick him up. Meanwhile, his other agent Virgil Flowers worked on a case in New Mexico and Del Capslock was in El Paso, looking at old people who were smuggling guns. Basically, Lucas was on his own on the Black Hole case.

Bob Shaffer found a clue about the Black Hole case, but he thought it was weak and didn’t tell Lucas and Del who were around. “He didn’t want to talk about it, because it sounded… too easy. Possibly even stupid. Should that turn out to be the case, he didn’t need Davenport or Capslock gossiping about it.”  This wrong step made Shaffer killed. The story went slow after that. It took lots of chapters for Lucas to find what Shaffer had found earlier. If he was not so diverted with more cases, he perhaps could have solved the mystery sooner. In working the case, the cops took anything they could find and followed them all. It wasn’t like Shaffer to feel that what he had found wasn't important.

When the body of Shaffer was found, Lucas - who was at home - looked for a company to go to the crime scene. He finally took Letty, his adopted daughter. He actually could go by himself if Del was not available. Bob Shaffer was alone when he was looking at cemeteries.

The story was taken place in Goodhue County. The killer lived in a small town named Holbein and after a while I found that this town was fictional. I couldn’t find it in any map, but John Sandford gave a discription about where it was.
“In Minnesota, there’s Lake City, seventeen miles south of Red Wing, Holbein fourteen miles southwest, Zumbrota, eight miles past Holbein, ...”

I don’t like how the killer suffered schizophrenia. This bit reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The relation of the killer and his old buddy was similar to Norman Bates and his mother. Schizophrenic killer was also used in Phantom Prey. If in Phantom Prey Lucas took his wife to interview a suspect, in Field of Prey he took his daughter to see a crime scene. Lucas should have been more professional and didn't take a family member when he was working.

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