By John Sandford - Field of Prey - John Sandford

The book begins with a prologue guaranteed to grab your attention. Years ago, a couple of seriously twisted men snatched a young waitress after her night shift & whisked her away to their lair. Despite their well honed plan (she's abductee #5), they failed to take 2 things into account: she's a fighter & she always carries a Leatherman. For one of the men, it will be a life altering mistake.

In the present, Minnesota is suffering through a heat wave & it's about to get a lot more uncomfortable for the boys of the BCA. Two teens in a rural area south of the city go looking for a secluded place to get naked & end up stumbling across the stuff of nightmares. When all is said & done, forensic teams recover 20 bodies from an old cistern.

And so it begins for Lucas Davenport & his motley crew. They're already juggling cases concerning ponzi schemes, bank robberies & septuagenarian gun runners. And who knows what that f><kin' Flowers is up to. 

If you've read any of the others you know what to expect here. This is Prey #24 (they began in 1989...gawd! I'm getting old...) & Sandford has perfected the format. There will be creepy bad guys, violent crimes, shootouts & lots of sophomoric humour. Some of the books have been more successful than others which I guess is to be expected after 25 years. His last novel (featuring Virgil Flowers) felt like it was ghost written by a family member & phoned in from somewhere with spotty reception so I'm happy to report he's returned to form with this book.

The main story line is tricky enough to hold your attention & there's a nice little twist at the end guaranteed to provoke an "ew" moment. We know who the bad guys are from the start which is always a gamble & the story does bog down for about 10 chapters in the middle with little plot advancement as the team races to figure out what the reader already knows. It's also telegraphed early on there will be a showdown between the killers & a local female cop so it's a matter of getting through the lull to reach the fast paced & tense final few chapters. 

All the guys are in their 50's now & their personal lives reflect this (except Virgil). A nice surprise is the larger role given to Letty, Lucas' teenage daughter, as she accompanies him on road trips & the whole family adjusts to her taking off to Stanford.

There are a few scares along the way but the ending is never really in doubt. This will in no way discourage faithful readers who pick these up more for entertainment than to experience a realistic police procedural. So fans, rejoice. Sanford is back.