Book Review: Shadow Prey (Lucas Davenport) by John Sandford

Posted July 7, 2017 by @Angelized_1st in Books, COYER Summer Reading List, Entertainment / 2 Comments

Book Review: Shadow Prey (Lucas Davenport) by John SandfordShadow Prey by John Sandford
Series: Lucas Davenport #2
Published by Penguin on March 1st 1991
Genres: Fiction, Crime, Thrillers, Suspense, Mystery & Detective, Police Procedural
Pages: 464
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks

The #1 New York Times bestselling series. Lucas Davenport goes on a city-to-city search for a bizarre ritualistic killer.

A slumlord and a welfare supervisor butchered in Minneapolis . . . a rising political star executed in Manhattan . . . an influential judge taken in Oklahoma City . . . All the homicides have the same grisly method — the victim's throat is slashed with an Indian ceremonial knife – and in every case the twisted trail leads back through the Minnesota Native American community to an embodiment of primal evil known as Shadow Love. Once unleashed, Shadow Love's need to kill cannot be checked, even by those who think they control him. Soon he will be stalking Lucas Davenport — and the woman he loves...

Never get involved with a cop: Lieutenant Lucas Davenport has been warning women for years, but now he finds himself on dangerous ground with a policewoman named Lily Rothenburg, on assignment from New York to help investigate the murders. Both have previous commitments, but neither can stop, and as their affair grows more intense, so too does the mayhem surrounding them, until the combined passion and violence threaten to spin out of control and engulf them both. Together, Lucas and Lily must stalk the drugged-out, desperate world of the city's meanest streets to flush out Shadow Love — not knowing they are now the objects of his deadliest desires....

Years ago I picked up John Sandford’s Rules of Prey in an airport. The lead detective, Lucas Davenport, was a great character. A tough cop who will bend the rules to get the job done, and a ladies’ man. Despite any shortcomings, Lucas is a likable character that you can’t help but root for. The killer in that novel was pretty creepy, and Sandford kept the suspense going throughout the novel. I enjoyed it so much that I planned to keep up with the series but being a poor college student, I wasn’t able to fulfill my promise.

Now here it is 20 years later, and something about John Sandford’s writing has stuck with me. Last year when I participated in the Finish the Series reading challenge, I decided to jump back into this series and rekindle my love of mystery. I never did, until now… Instead of reading the first book again, I decided to pick up with this series with the second novel, Shadow Prey. In this novel, Davenport is on the case of a killer targeting various people around the country who appear to lack any kind of connection except the murder weapon. Davenport must maneuver around the Native American community and its politics to rustle up some leads on the case and stop the killer before they strike again.

I really enjoyed the story centering around the Native American community. It’s not often that this community is featured in novels in any real way that I’ve read, and I loved how fleshed out these characters were. Sandford made them seem like real people, not caricatures and didn’t shy away from the real problems they face on the Reservation and in mainstream society. What I appreciated the most, was that Sandford didn’t sugar coat how this community feels about their lot in life, or who the whites in Minneapolis during the 1980’s viewed them. Sandford could have villainized the killer, but instead showed how he was a product of his community and history.

Another aspect of the story I enjoyed was Lucas’ personal situation. He has just had a baby with his long-time girlfriend, Jennifer when he gets caught up with visiting detective Lily Rothenburg. While the love triangle has been done to death, I actually didn’t mind it in this novel. Jennifer acted like she wanted an out from Lucas if things got tough, and declined his marriage proposals. I think deep-down she was waiting for him to stray again, so her refusals make sense. However, this must have been a tough decision for this time period, and especially for someone in the limelight like a local news anchor. Lily was also caught in a bind, but she was such a likable character that I felt her indecision and didn’t judge her for it. Sandford wrote two very realistic and strong women and managed to keep them feminine as well.

If I have anything negative to say, it would be that the pace of the story was kind of slow for me. While readers don’t know the identities of the bad guys off the bat, you know enough to understand the motivation behind the killings. However, despite everything happening in the novel, it seemed to take a while for the plot to pick up any traction. Once it did, though, I became very interested in the story’s outcome. I may have built up my memories of the first novel to be more than what it was, but I doubt it. Either way, this novel wasn’t on the same level. However, I’m now on the fourth book, and I can say that Shadow Prey may have been a case of the “Sophomore Slump.”

About John Sandford

John Sandford was born John Camp on February 23, 1944, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He attended the public schools in Cedar Rapids, graduating from Washington High School in 1962. He then spent four years at the University of Iowa, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in American Studies in 1966. In 1966, he married Susan Lee Jones of Cedar Rapids, a fellow student at the University of Iowa. He was in the U.S. Army from 1966-68, worked as a reporter for the Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian from 1968-1970, and went back to the University of Iowa from 1970-1971, where he received a master’s degree in journalism. He was a reporter for The Miami Herald from 1971-78, and then a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer-Press from 1978-1990; in 1980, he was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, and he won the Pulitzer in 1986 for a series of stories about a midwestern farm crisis. From 1990 to the present he has written thriller novels. He’s also the author of two non-fiction books, one on plastic surgery and one on art. He is the principal financial backer of a major archeological project in the Jordan Valley of Israel, with a website at In addition to archaeology, he is deeply interested in art (painting) and photography. He both hunts and fishes. He has two children, Roswell and Emily, and one grandson, Benjamin. His wife, Susan, died of metastasized breast cancer in May, 2007, and is greatly missed.


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