John Sandford is the pseudonym of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Camp. He is the author of the Prey novels, the Kidd novels, the Virgil Flowers novels, The Night Crew, and Dead Watch. He lives in New Mexico.
The author of four previous mystery thrillers starring Lucas Davenport ( Rules of Prey , etc.) evokes with precision and clarity two disparate, but equally unsettling types of harshness: the raw power of nature and the pitilessness of certain human beings. In a rural area of northern Wisconsin, a family of three is savagely wiped out by the Iceman, who then torches their house. In pursuit of a damaging photograph--a snapshot of him in a sexual situation with a local boy--this fiend puts no value on human life. Enter Davenport, the laconic, slightly cynical ex-cop from Minneapolis, who uncovers several disturbing truths before determining the Iceman's identity. The wintry climate is practically palpable here; numbing cold and blizzards prove as threatening as the Iceman's malevolence. Despite its chilling moments (literally and figuratively), this forceful narrative is tempered with an unexpected humanity, as evidenced primarily in the mature, slowly blossoming romance between Davenport and a local doctor. The moments of tenderness and humor shared by the rugged detective and this worldlywise Mother Earth figure stand in vigorous counterpoint to the surrounding events. Sandford casts a keen eye, too, on small-town life: he knows that everyone's peccadillos are grist for the rumor mill, and that secrets can quickly sour. A compelling vitality suffuses this novel, arguably the finest in a sterling quintet. (Mar.)
In the author's fifth book of the "Prey" series (e.g., Eyes of Prey, Recorded Bks., 1993), Lucas Davenport has retired from the Minneapolis police force and now lives in a cabin in the Wisconsin woods. He creates computer games and generally enjoys the solitude. Davenport's contentment is cut short, however, when the local sheriff asks for help in investigating a series of homicides. A family of three is found murdered in the ashes of their torched house, and a high school boy is killed. Lucas, deputized, must sift through the debris, interview students, and unearth the reason for these deaths. Winter Prey's reader, Richard Ferrone, captures the setting's harsh winter, the fold-by-fold unveiling of the grisly plot, and the mental instability of the antagonist with consummate precision. Highly recommended for thriller collections.‘Kristin M. Jacobi, Coventry, Ct.