Phantom Prey by John Sandford: A review

I've read a few of the books in this series, four I think prior to this one, but it's been a while since I read one and I didn't have a real firm grasp of the Lucas Davenport story. I remembered that he was from Minnesota and that he was a detective in a crime detection state agency there. And that was about it. So I came to Phantom Prey with no particular pre-conceived expectations.

In this one, Alyssa, a woman friend of Weather, Davenport's wife, arrives home to find that her home security system had been disarmed and there are bloodstains on the wall of her kitchen. She expected her daughter, Frances, and her housekeeper, Helen, to be there, but the house is empty. There's no clue where the two have gone or where they might be. The housekeeper does finally show up but Frances remains missing.

The other thing is that there was a lot of blood in the kitchen and testing reveals that it is Frances' type. The case becomes a missing person investigation but there is an underlying belief that she is probably dead. The police seem to be making no progress on the case, so Alyssa contacts her friend Weather and requests that she ask her husband to get involved in the investigation. Lucas doesn't have much on his plate at the moment and probably welcomes the distraction of a hot case.

The action of the book is set in the early 2000s and Lucas learns that Frances was heavily into the Goth scene in the Twin Cities which was apparently very active at that time. He's only just begun his investigation when two of the Goths who were a part of Frances' circle of friends are murdered. This, of course, increases fears that if she is not already dead she may soon be and adds an extra element of urgency to Davenport's inquiries.  

I seem to remember that the other books in the Davenport series that I have read featured a good bit of humor and that was the case with this one as well. This was the eighteenth in the series so Sandford obviously had his formula well established by the time the book was published in 2008. There are now a surprising thirty-two books in this series, plus the writer has at least a couple of other series going all of which simply boggles my mind. How does a writer come up with that many different ideas? I guess that the answer may be that they are not "different" ideas; they are simply a new set of characters and situations set within that same formula and all the writer has to do is fill in the blanks. Sounds easy, doesn't it? But it probably isn't. 

Comments

  1. I always meant to try this series when a friend highly recommended it some 20 years ago but, these days, I'm hesitant to start a new series. I have several started like Louise Penny that I will never catch up with. I do like when an author knowa just the right way to infuse humor when you least expect it.

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    1. I'm sure I have series going that I'll never be able to catch up on or finish. But it never stops me from dipping into new ones that interest me!

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  2. I've been aware of this author for years because he is so prolific, but I've never tried any of his books. I do like the sound of this one, and it seems like you can jump into this series without having read all the earlier books, which is always nice in my opinion.

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    1. I think that is the case. Each story pretty much stands on its own.

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  3. I remember reading the very first book in this series and not being impressed enough to continue with the series, but I certainly do enjoy attending Sandford's author events when he's in town. He is a funny, and very interesting, speaker.

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    1. I have to be in the mood for one of these books and this one was just kind of meh.

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  4. This is an author I've never seen in person, not even at Book Expo, and I think I always wondered if he wrote all the books himself.

    I do like books that include a bit of humor.

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    1. I had never considered that he had not written them himself. I just assumed he was very prolific.

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  5. I would kill to have been born a few decades earlier because I would've loved an active goth scene, by the time I grew up Emo was the thing.

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    1. Hey, maybe you can revive Goth! It has to start somewhere, right?

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