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Wicked Prey    by John Sandford order for
Wicked Prey
by John Sandford
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

For months Lucas Davenport has been part of a large team of cops assigned to work out the security details needed to make the Republication National Convention safe for its hundreds of delegates. Despite their best efforts, he's got a niggling hunch that something bad's going to go down, even though his superiors assure him they've covered all bases. Lucas is barely home from a two day getaway with wife Weather when his New York counterpart (and former lover) Lily Rothenberg contacts him with news that cop killer Brutus Cohn and his gang - whose speciality is knocking over armoured vehicles - are likely heading to the Twin Cities to pull off another heist.

Lucas points out that Cohn would have to be insane to try anything in a city that's jacked up its police presence to the highest degree. But Rothenberg (as well as Interpol) is convinced Cohn isn't too worried about that, saying he's likely looking for his last big score before he drops off police radar in South America or Mexico. She doesn't want that to happen - wants Cohn to pay for the two New York cops he and his gang murdered in cold blood. Lucas promises to do some digging and it doesn't take long to confirm Rothenberg's suspicions. Cohn is indeed in town and has targeted political moneymen carrying briefcases full of cash to buy votes. Tracking the cunning killer proves difficult however. It takes Lucas and his team's combined skills to find Cohn's lair and then flush him out before more innocent people die.

While tracking down Brutus Cohn and his cadre of killers is the primary storyline here, a secondary plot involving Lucas's ward Lettie and a small time criminal with a big score to settle with Davenport tips the scales. Sandford first introduced Lettie as a strong secondary character in Naked Prey (2004) in a storyline where the eleven year old literally matched Davenport in the ruthless smarts department. Since then Sandford has given Lettie the odd walk-on but generally left her offstage to do some growing up. Now, in Wicked Prey, the blossoming fourteen-year-old with visions of becoming a crack reporter fully lives up to Davenport's insightful (and oftentimes perplexed) expectations as she matches wits with a psychotic pimp who figures she's easy prey and his ticket to pushing his hated enemy Davenport over the edge.

Wicked Prey is another top-notch thriller where Lucas Davenport, despite being pulled in numerous directions (including those of his family) is once again at the top of his game as he races to keep one step ahead of a band of ruthless killers.

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