This is the book that introduced Minneapolis homicide detective Lucas Davenport, a cunning, tough, and intelligent cop who is willing to bend the rules, if necessary, to get a dangerous killer off the streets. Davenport is independently wealthy, thanks to the fact that he writes video games in his off-duty hours. He drives a Porsche, wears Italian suits and reads Emily Dickinson. A former college hockey player, he's a man's man who is also very attractive to women. But he does have his standards. When one of his lovers suggests that Lucas is willing to bed virtually any attractive female who comes along, he corrects her by pointing out that he never sleeps with dumb women. That said, his best female friend is a nun.
By the time he first appears, Davenport has already established his reputation as a gifted detective, and when a serial killer known as the Mad Dog, begins killing women in the Twin Cities, the Chief of Police assigns Lucas to the case. Initially, at least, the Mad Dog is a very worthy adversary. He's careful, intelligent, and he follows a set of basic rules, one of which he leaves on the body of each of his victims. For example, "Never kill anyone you know;" Never have a motive;" "Don't follow a discernable pattern," etc. The battle of wits is an engaging one and the reader is caught up in the game immediately.
Lucas Davenport has gone on to become one of the most popular characters in modern crime fiction, and this is an excellent introduction both to the character and to the series. The book is cleverly plotted; the action moves swiftly, and Davenport is a very appealing protagonist. The supporting cast is well drawn and will grow increasingly important as the series progresses. Although often darkly violent, all of the books, beginning with this one, also have a very dark sense of humor as well. Sandford knows exactly how to straddle the line here, a talent that very few other authors illustrate better than he.
It's hard to imagine that there's any fan of crime fiction who has not made Davenport's acquaintance by now, but if you've just returned from a twenty-eight-year sojourn on Neptune or some such place where these books haven't yet been published, by all means, race out to your local bookstore and buy them all. As is the case with a lot of series, it's important that you read this one in order, simply to enjoy the development of these characters as they move through the years.