This is the umpteenth book in the long-running Prey series, which started back in 1989 and is still romping along. Over the years, lawman / lothario Lucas Davenport has aged gracefully – and even adopted monogamy – while author John Sandford has covered almost every aspect of ‘this time it’s personal’ serial killer territory.
In fact, while the majority of the series sticks to the American police procedural format, Sandford has experimented with several different types of thriller over the years. Typically, the ones which stray from core Prey subjects are the least enjoyable – I’d skip the Washington DC-based political ones, and that weird one with the racing cars…
Neon Prey is a complex manhunt for a career criminal (who, umm, also happens to be a little bit of a cannibal). Davenport, now a US Marshal, leaves his comfortable home turf around the twin cities and travels halfway across the continental United States to the sun-scorched sweltering streets of southern California, and then into the desert itself as he pursues his prey all the way to Las Vegas.
Crisply written with Sandford’s trademark snappy dialogue, this is a tightly-plotted thriller which illuminates the lives of the bad guys every bit as much as the multi-agency task force on their trail. From murder to home invasion to mall shooting, the loyalties and intentions of the mismatched gang and their erstwhile employer are constantly in flux. Distrust, greed, lust and outright evil create temporary alliances and moments of knife-edge tension. The lawmen are pushed into high-risk strategies – and not everyone gets out alive…
Perhaps not as pacey nor as hard-edged as Sandford’s early Prey books, but still reliably entertaining. A cut above the average airport paperback.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Neon Prey by John Sandford is available at Amazon