Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Phantom Prey - John Sandford

In Phantom Prey, Lucas Davenport worked on two cases: 1) surveillance on the wife of Twin Cities’s largest volume cocaine dealer who had vanished after he bailed out of jail 2) the disappearance of a rich heiress and murders of her friends.

If I have to pick the weakest book in the Prey series, this is it (so far). Usually the stories have some complexity, but in this book I didn’t find it. I have read many crime fiction novels and it felt like one of those, not up to usual John Sanford standard I had expected.

I think the surveillance thing was okay, but the Frances Austin – the heiress - investigation was a little disappointing. It was two different killers and one of them suffered schizophrenia. Years ago I read All Around The Town by Mary Higgins Clark, which I thought was great. The schizophrenia thing in Phantom Prey reminded me of that book, and since in my opinion John Sandford was a better writer than Clark, I had hoped he could have done better. And Lucas had been usually smarter.** The pace was slower than usual, so Lucas had to be shot earlier to make it more interesting.

Lucas worked on Frances Austin case because his wife Weather had asked him to. France’s mother was Weather’s friend. This made the case was not as politically important as the errands from the governor. Weather’s influence in this book was bigger, far long from the unintelligent woman who had broken the garage door in Hidden Prey. Lucas even brought her to interview a suspect. Why brought Weather if Sloan could help?

**When Lucas was looking for Fairy, he showed a photo kit of her to the Frances's friends to see if it looked like Frances and he got answers such as: "It looks a little like her, but the hair's wrong, and this woman is skinnier..." "In this picture she looks a little like Frances, but she doesn't look like her in real life. She's smaller and skinnier and darker."  Lucas should have had an idea that Fairy was someone related to Frances, especially if a homicide cop had told him earlier the same idea. He would have had solved the case much sooner.

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