A review of Storm Prey, by John Sandford
@@@@ (4 out of 5)
Storm Prey is the 20th novel (out of 21) in the “Prey” series. Why? What makes a series of crime novels sell so well and for so many years?
After all, when the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Sandford started writing fiction in 1989, he completed two books, one of them, Rules of Prey, the first in this series. The other was the first entry in another, short-lived sereries that Sandford left behind after just four books. Why would one series sell better and last, and the other one die?
Without reading that other first book (Fool’s Run) and the three that followed it, we can’t draw any firm conclusions. Certainly, comparisons aren’t possible. But there’s value in taking a close look at Sandford’s most recent books as a start toward understanding why the Prey series can still be going strong after two decades.
For starters, John Stanford writes stories about interesting people doing interesting things, and he supplies enough detail that a reader can become deeply immersed in the tale. In Storm Prey, for example, the principal characters are a millionaire senior officer with the Minnesota state crime investigation unit, a plastic surgeon expert at microsurgery, a psychopathic skinhead biker, a Lebanese ER doctor with a ferocious coke habit, and an assortment of police officers, state investigators, and low-rent criminals to round out the scene. And none of these people is either a superhero or the incarnation of evil. They’re people.
Sandford is a master of plotting. From an engrossing outset to a heart-pounding conclusion, Storm Prey steadily builds momentum from one surprise to the next.
The chief protagonist, Lucas Davenport, provides continuity in the Prey series. A millionaire former Minneapolis cop and businessman, he runs the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in his own unorthodox way, taking chances and following his instincts — and usually, though not always, getting what he wants. His wife, Weather Karkinnen, the surgeon, is a powerful character who is a perfect match for Lucas.
If you enjoy novels of suspense but haven’t sampled the Prey series, it’s definitely worth a try.