Vastly entertaining fifth entry in Sandford's popular Prey series (Silent Prey, 1992, etc.). This time, ex-cop and master- gamesman Lucas Davenport takes on a crazed killer ravaging a small Wisconsin town. The killer, who calls himself "the Iceman" for his sang- froid, debuts in the creepy opening pages by stalking an isolated house, gunning down the woman inside, chopping up her husband, and torturing their daughter—all in a failed attempt to retrieve an incriminating photo that's fallen into the victims' hands. It's a gruesome start, but Sandford splatters the gore mostly off-page, relying on suspense—and there's plenty of it—to jangle readers' nerves. When the bodies are found, the local sheriff calls in Davenport to help. Arriving in town, Davenport, who's at loose ends in his life, finds himself facing two enemies: the Iceman, but also record cold and snow that's frozen the town into a death-trap. His investigation—which hinges on retrieving the photo before the Iceman does—stalls in the face of challenging puzzles centering on time-of-death and a seemingly reluctant witness, but it also butts him up against some marvelous characters, including a female M.D. with whom he falls eagerly in love. Meanwhile, the Iceman slays anyone who might know about the photo—which, it turns out, shows him having sex with a local boy, his first victim: The Iceman heads a child-porn ring. When Davenport—who's been revitalized by the case—at last recovers the photo, the Iceman's surprising identity is revealed, leading to a furious climactic chase on snowmobiles through dark woods and howling wind—and to Davenport and the Iceman each having a téte-a-téte with death. Crackling action, a clever mystery, and characters who breathe make this great fun: one of the best Preys yet and a must for thriller fans.
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