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Sunday, May 1, 2016


4 stars out of 5

Reading books I've received free in exchange for reviews, as I often do, is always a bit stressful. If nothing else, I've got to pay close attention and jot down notes to remind me what I liked (or didn't). So when I have the time to pick up a book by a favorite author - with a character that's on my list of 10 all-time favorites - I open it with a huge smile on my face. So it was when I started this one.

When I finished it, I was still smiling, but not quite as broadly. Maybe it was the more-than-slight political slant that turned me off a bit, and maybe it was just that the thrill of the chase wasn't quite as exciting as I'd hoped (well, at least not until the end, when all heck breaks loose). Bottom line? Well worth reading, but not the best of the 26-book series featuring Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent Lucas Davenport.

Make that former agent; fed up with the bureaucracy, Lucas - independently wealthy s a result of selling software he developed - has left the BCA, keeping busy remodeling his cabin in the Wisconsin woods. But then he gets a call from an old friend, the governor of Minnesota (who's running for President in hopes of landing the VP spot on the ticket) asking him to look into a possible assassination plot. He agrees, of course, and heads for Iowa to learn that apparently, someone is out to get another Presidential hopeful, Michaela Bowden, who's coming to the Hawkeye State to campaign.

As part of the investigation, Lucas hooks up with some interesting Iowa law enforcement officers, and the trail points to a couple of extremest groups that may be focused on assassination. That, in turn, raises a number of questions: Is it the whole group, or a member or two gone rogue? When and how will the assassination attempt be made? Can Lucas and his new police friends get the answers before something the unthinkable happens?

The investigative route is pretty extensive - literally, with Lucas driving hell bent for election (pun intended) all over the state and back. Lucas himself becomes a target more than once, narrowly escaping serious injury or death (for the record, I don't consider that a spoiler, since I can't imagine that anyone reading this expects Lucas to bite the dust and not be around for a 27th book). Still, the attempts to bring the investigation to a halt by whoever's doing it make it abundantly clear that something really big and really nasty is about to happen.

In the small towns of rural Iowa, Lucas and friends meet some colorful characters, to say the least. And for those who might be wondering, yes, as usual, the leading character in another of the author's series, Virgil Flowers (a.k.a., that f***'in Flowers) gets mentioned a time or two. Noticeably absent is Letty, Lucas's adopted daughter (of whom I'm not very fond, so I didn't miss her a whit) and Weather, his plastic surgeon wife (of whom I am, and I did). Here and there are touches of humor, and I found myself chuckling when I learned that I totally agree with Lucas's opinion of state fairs - give me a county fair any day, thank you very much. 

Even if this book isn't my favorite, I started it as a diehard Lucas Davenport fan and remain one at the end. For those who haven't read any of the books yet, it (and the others) stand alone quite well and I recommend them highly. 

Extreme Prey by John Sandford (G.P. Putnam's Sons, April 2016); 410 pp.

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