Eyes of Prey by John Sandford: A review

This wasn't really the book I had intended to read next, but there it was, already queued up in my Kindle, so, what the heck? Might as well tick that box.

Maybe it was Fate having its way with me. After all, the Minneapolis Police Department has been much in the news recently, following a police shooting there. A civilian who had called the police to report a possible sexual assault was shot and killed by one of the policemen who responded to the call. The irony here was that the victim this time, instead of a young African-American shot by a white cop, was a pretty, blonde, white woman shot by a black cop - a Somali-American. Where are the usual suspects telling us that the victim was probably a thug who deserved it and cops are always heroes? 

Ah, well, enough editorializing. Back to the safer world of fiction where things often really are black and white.

Eyes of Prey is the third in the very long-running Lucas Davenport crime fiction series. It was first published in 1991, so it came into being in an entirely different world. Nevertheless, it seems to hold up well and doesn't feel particularly dated. True, Davenport's and his fellow policemen's reflexive attitude toward women is blatantly sexist, but I suspect that is no less accurate today than it was in 1991.

This time out, Davenport faces off with two killers who are involved in a Strangers on a Train scenario - "You kill my inconvenient wife (or, in one case, boss) and I'll kill yours." 

It all seems to go off like clockwork, with one minor hitch: When the killer goes to kill the inconvenient wife, there is another person in the house. The woman's lover comes down the stairs in time to get a look at the killer and is able to report a partial description of him.

The killers try to figure out who the lover was and they settle on a likely candidate. And one of them kills him. Except they got the wrong man.

Then they decide to kill a random woman at the mall just to muddy the waters.

The signature bit in each of these killings is destruction of the eyes, because the brains of the whole plan is a psychopath who is haunted by eyes. He sees the eyes of his victims watching him unless he destroys them. And, oh, yes, he has had many other victims. He is a serial killer.

The madness continues. One killing leads to another and police struggle to make sense of it all since the killings seem to be unrelated.

Meanwhile, Davenport is struggling with serious depression. His relationship with the married woman from the last book ended, but not before it had destroyed his tenuous connection with his on-and-off girlfriend, the mother of his daughter. He seldom sees the daughter or her mother anymore, and there doesn't seem to be any anchor or joy in his life.  

He does start up a new romantic relationship with an actress, but that does not end well. And he works his street contacts, trying to come up with a lead to solve the vicious murders.

This book, in my opinion, was an improvement on the first two of the series. The plot seemed tighter and Lucas Davenport seemed a bit more human, rather than superhuman, and thus more sympathetic. There is no mystery involved. We know who the killers are right from the first, but it is interesting to watch as the police try to work it out.

This has been a lengthy crime series that is still going and still makes it to the best seller lists. This book gives a glimmer of why that might be.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


  1. Sounds like a good murder mystery. I'm glad you liked it and found it an improvement over previous installments.

    1. It was a well-told tale. The murders were grisly, but the plot itself kept things moving.

  2. My husband has now read a couple by this guy. He liked them. But he says he likes the Jack Reacher books better.

    1. I've read two - I think, maybe three - of the Reacher books and found them entertaining but not my favorite type. A little too testosterone-laden, I guess, which I find to be a problem with this series as well. My husband enjoys both and he's my guinea pig for testosterone-laden books!


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