Monday, May 26, 2014

Lucas Davenort is Waist-Deep in Political Corruption--and Murder

A tight race for a U.S. Senate seat from Minnesota is headed toward a nail-biter of a finish when a campaign aide accidentally discovers child porn on the office computer of the Republican incumbent, Porter Smalls. Smalls is obviously toast, and it seems certain that the discovery will lead to a victory by the beautiful, wealthy and determined Democratic challenger whose name is Taryn Grant.

The governor is a Democrat who normally would welcome a victory by his party in the Senate race. But he's known the Republican incumbent for years, and while he might abhor the guy's politics, he doesn't believe that he would be watching kiddie porn. And, more to the point, he doesn't believe that the guy could possibly be dumb enough to get caught doing it.

He suspects a frame-up and so calls in Lucas Davenport, head of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and asks him to look into it. As Davenport begins to investigate, a Democratic political fixer, known to play the occasional dirty trick and who had access to Small's computer, turns up missing and presumed dead.

If, in fact, someone did plant the porn on Smalls' computer, the most logical suspects would be in the Grant campaign, but when Davenport interviews the candidate, he discovers that she is more than a little tightly wound. She also has some very curious characters on her security staff. As the investigation deepens, Lucas will call on a number of characters from other Sandford novels to help out, including that F***ing Virgil Flowers, the computer whiz, Kidd, and Kidd's extremely hot wife, Lauren.

The case develops in ways that are unusually frustrating for Davenport and winds up concluding in a way that is more than a little unsettling for a variety of reasons. This is the twenty-third book in this series and, inevitably in a series this long, some of the entries are bound to be a bit stronger than others. Given that the Davenport character is always consistently entertaining, the books in the Prey series tend to succeed basically on the strength of the villains.

Sandford has created some of the truly great villains in modern crime fiction, but I found this one to be a bit less compelling than some of his others and so enjoyed the book a bit less than others in the series. If pressed, I'd probably give this 3.8 stars for that reason. I certainly enjoyed the book, but when I'm lying on my deathbed, reaching out for one last great Lucas Davenport novel to read before shuffling off into the Great Beyond, it probably will not be this one.

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