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HIDDEN PREY by John Sandford Kirkus Star


by John Sandford

Pub Date: May 11th, 2004
ISBN: 0-399-15180-X
Publisher: Putnam

As the brilliant Prey series (Naked Prey, 2003, etc.) moves adroitly to number 15, Lucas Davenport discovers and exposes your basic family Soviet spy ring.

Homogeneously American on the surface—hardworking dads, dutiful soccer moms—this family of subversives, headed by a former KGB colonel, has been for 70 years secretly diligent on behalf of the Soviet Union, undeterred by the Soviet Union’s demise. At first, the murder of Oleg Moshalov seems unconnected to the group’s efforts, seems, in fact, fairly routine, a bit confusing as to motive, to be sure, but not much more so than homicides often are in the early stages of an investigation. Even after Oleg Moshalov is correctly identified as Rodion Oleshev, ex-KGB agent, the various antennae involved remain at rest. And then suddenly there are the Russians demanding action, clamoring for results, and flying a cop from Moscow to Duluth to make certain the Americans understand that they’re serious. All of which means that Lucas Davenport, still settling into his recent appointment as major-crimes troubleshooter for Minnesota Governor Elmer Henderson, is about to be activated. Russian cop? Well, not quite, Lucas decides almost at once (cops don’t flinch at the sight of corpses, though intelligence officers might). He manages to bear up under the deception, however, since Major Nadezhda Kalin—she of the delicious diastema between her two front teeth—turns out to be Ninotchka for the new century. To charm, smarts, and guts, add investigative flair, and what you’ve got is a matched pair, the Kalin-Davenport team, essential for coping with a crafty, resolute villain desperate to elude the denouement he really always knew was in store for him.

Deft, action-packed, and slyly funny. Just when you thought the silky smooth Sandford couldn’t possibly get better, he does.