Golden Prey

By John Sandford

Golden Prey, a novel by John Sandford
Book details Books in the series

The long running series is a dream for an author as it means that your characters and world are successful enough that people are buying them, and you can keep writing. John Sandford's Lucas Davenport books must be a success when you realise that Golden Prey is the 27th book centred on the character. With a long running series comes experience but also the threat of stagnation. How do you keep a series fresh? In the case of Davenport, the books have had a shakeup. He is no longer just Minneapolis' greatest, but America's, as Davenport is now a fully-fledged US Marshal.  

Moving up to the big leagues sounded like a great idea to Davenport when he was encouraged to do so by his friend, who also happens to be the favourite to be the next President of the United States. However, losing his local networks has left him feeling like a limb is missing. The politics bores him, and all that Davenport wants in the chase. He may just be in luck as a former FBI Most Wanted criminal has come back on the scene after a shootout between criminals leaves several dead, including an innocent young girl. Can Davenport bring his maverick skills to the big scene and chase the killer and his cohort across the country? He must get to them first before the wronged drug lord does. 

Golden Prey has all the ingredients that makes a great Prey novel, a dastardly crime, unlikable killers and the most important thing, the chase. The difference here is that the scale is larger, and Davenport must find his feet in this new environment. No longer can he pick up the phone and find out from a snitch where the killers may be. Instead, he relies on the goodwill of other law enforcement departments, a situation that he has never been happy with. Thankfully, in most cases it seems to go smoothly as he now has the full force of the Marshals behind him and a very powerful friend. 

What this all means is that the book feels like it is a reboot in places as Sandford is made to explain Davenport's place in the world once more. There are more obstacles in his way that these effect the pacing of the book in places. It also hampers the best parts of Davenport's character, his ego and his mean streak. He must keep both in line as he has far more pressure from above, although he does get more freedom as the book progresses. What is still present is the calculating mind that fans enjoy. This is a character who has learned to think several steps ahead of the criminal he is chasing, and this leads to some interesting insights into police procedure. 

All the best Prey books have memorable baddies. In the case of Golden, some are a little lacking. The main culprit is a talented triggerman who kills with little remorse. He proves to be the least interesting of the characters Davenport is chasing. The lover and the friend are more interesting as they are not the stereotypical criminal. The other chasing element is better as two assassins are also on the case, including one who is a keen torturer and has a few other problems on top. I never felt that the balance was quite right in this instance between eccentricity and believability.  

Writing the perfect Prey novel is like a recipe that needs just the right ingredients. Sandford has done it several times before and has even played with the format a little. This mini reboot of the series has influenced the delivered product and feels a little like a stuttering restart. Now that Davenport is better established in his new role and has surrounded himself once more with reliable allies, the new US Marshal years can move forwards in the next book. Golden Prey feels like a necessary evil to expand the world, but it is not the best book. Saying that, it is still a very solid and readable crime thriller that beats many other authors' best work. 




Written on 17th December 2020 by .

You may also like

The Silenced
The Bad Neighbour
Our Child of the Stars
Strange Ink
The Book of Malachi