Book Review: Rules of Prey by John Sandford

Regular readers of Joyfully Retired know how much I love John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers series. But, I’ve only read one of Sandford’s “Prey” series, so I thought I’d go back and start at the beginning. The main character, Lucas Davenport, is Virgil Flowers’ boss and I thought it would be interesting to see the origin and development of Lucas.

Rules Of PreyI started with Rules of Prey, the first book in the series. Here we meet the somewhat flawed young detective. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure I like this guy. Lucas seems different from my impression of him in the Virgil Flowers’ books. Of course, in the Virgil Flowers books he’s older, married, and quite respectable. Maybe Rules of Prey is Lucas’ young-and-the-world-be-damned version of himself. I’ll have to wait and see.

In this first book Lucas is a lieutenant-level homicide detective who doesn’t work well with a partner. He’s better on his own. He seems to be anti-police and anti-rules, well, other people’s rules. He will stay within the letter of the law, but on some things, just barely. Also, Lucas is a single guy who has no problem sleeping with two women at the same time, even if one of them is pregnant with his child.

What makes Lucas valuable to the police (and an outstanding character) is his intelligence. He is your basic super smart guy, but he’s also people smart. He understands how people think and act. He has a huge network of snitches and informants all over the place. In addition, Lucas is smart enough to have created and successfully sold some electronic role-playing war and strategy games.

Lucas’ gaming skills certainly helped in the case under investigation in this story. A guy they call Mad Dog is killing women just for the pleasure of it. He enjoys the gaming aspect of researching the right victim, plotting out and staging the crime. Mad Dog is also extremely smart. His signature is leaving a different note on each victim stating one of his “rules” for committing murder. He’s a good match for Lucas Davenport.

A couple of things kept me moving quickly through this story. One is that Mad Dog narrates part of the story. I, the reader, knew what was about to happen but, at the same time, I could see what was happening with Lucas and the police. Another thing I liked was all the quirky characters which included various members of the police and the always self-serving and not helpful media. I didn’t like any of them.

Overall, I enjoyed my introductory look at Lucas Davenport. I didn’t fall in love with him right away as I did with Virgil Flowers, but I did admire and respect his detective work. I suspect he’ll become more likeable as the series progresses. Rules of Prey was written in 1989 so Lucas has had more than twenty years to develop as a character.

At this point I’m not sure I want to stay with him all the way. After all, there are now twenty-five or so books. I have decided to at least read the next book in the series. I’m curious about what is going to happen with the baby. I wonder if it will soften Lucas a bit. We’ll see.

Warning: Lucas has quite the foul-mouth and loose morals so, if this offends you, I’d skip this book or be prepared to quickly skip pages.

Thanks to my local library for lending me this book.

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2 Responses to Book Review: Rules of Prey by John Sandford

  1. Yes, later Lucas is more likeable than early Lucas.

  2. Kay says:

    I think I read this one a jillion years ago. And don’t remember much. Think I’ll skip going back, even though I know that Lucas Davenport has many, many fans.

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