PHANTOM PREY by John Sandford


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Lucas Davenport goes after a clever, ruthless killer hiding in plain sight.

Widowed heiress Alyssa Austin, a former athlete who owns a string of athletic clubs, comes home one night to find her daughter Frances missing, with bloody signs of foul play. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension soon learns that Frances, a Goth girl who inherited $2 million from her father, withdrew $50,000 from her bank account recently. Where did Frances and the money go? While Lucas and his teammates try to track the cash or any goods or services Frances might have purchased, more bodies pile up: a bartender friend of Frances, a buddy of his who works at a liquor store, a Goth realtor. Lucas doesn’t know that these aren’t victims of Frances’s killer but of an unlikely pair bent on avenging Frances: a spectral Goth who calls herself Fairy and Loren, her lover and confederate—their partnership is perhaps a bit too indebted to the felonious duo of Invisible Prey (2007). Sandford enlivens the crosscutting between cops and killers by giving Lucas another job: staking out pregnant Heather Toms while she waits for her husband, dangerous drug dealer Siggy Toms, to come back from Florida for her. This second gig would be a lot more tedious if Heather didn’t keep changing her clothes without bothering to lower the blinds. Of the many obstacles that keep Frances’s murder open, the most interesting is the news that her avenger is a figure close to the investigation who can disperse disinformation and still pass unsuspected among the authorities. The use of multiple-personality disorder to explain away murderous motives is both gratuitous and unconvincing, and it’s no surprise when the most exciting sequence is provided by the Heather Toms subplot.

As usual, there are lots of moves by both good guys and bad, but this time the moves seem old and forced.

Pub Date: May 6th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-399-15500-0
Page count: 410pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2008

Kirkus Interview
John Sandford
author of SATURN RUN
October 6, 2015

Saturn Run, John Sandford’s new novel, is quite a departure for the bestselling thriller writer, who sets aside his Lucas Davenport crime franchise (Gathering Prey, 2015, etc.) and partners with photographer and sci-fi buff Ctein to leave Earth’s gravitational field for the rings of Saturn. The year is 2066. A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope—something is approaching Saturn, and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate; spaceships do. A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: whatever built that ship is at least 100 years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete. A conclusion the Chinese definitely agree with when they find out. The race is on. “James Bond meets Tom Swift, with the last word reserved not for extraterrestrial encounters but for international piracy, state secrets, and a spot of satisfyingly underhanded political pressure,” our reviewer writes. View video >


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