Certain Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #10)

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In Certain Prey, Davenport confronts an entirely new kind of adversary. Clara Rinker is a southerner, trim, pleasant, attractive - and the best hit woman in the business. She isn't showy, not one of those movie killers; she just goes quietly about her business, collects her money, and goes home. It's when she's hired for a job in Minnesota that things become complicated for her. A defense attorney wants a rival eliminated, and that's fine. But then a witness survives, the attorney starts acting weird, this big ...
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Certain Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #10)

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In Certain Prey, Davenport confronts an entirely new kind of adversary. Clara Rinker is a southerner, trim, pleasant, attractive - and the best hit woman in the business. She isn't showy, not one of those movie killers; she just goes quietly about her business, collects her money, and goes home. It's when she's hired for a job in Minnesota that things become complicated for her. A defense attorney wants a rival eliminated, and that's fine. But then a witness survives, the attorney starts acting weird, this big cop Davenport gets on her case, and loose ends begin popping up faster than a sweater unraveling. Clara hates loose ends, and knows of only one way to deal with them: You start cutting them off, one after another, until they're all gone. Lucas thinks the case is worrisome enough, but he has no idea of the toll it is about to take on him. For of the many criminals he has hunted during his life, none has been as efficient or as ferociously intelligent as the one who is about to start hunting him - and none knows so well what his weak spots are ... and how to penetrate them.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
May 1999

Certain Prey is John Sandford's 11th novel in ten years, and the tenth to feature hard-edged, charismatic homicide detective Lucas Davenport. Once again, Sandford has managed to avoid the traps of repetition and overfamiliarity that mar so many attempts to create an extended series and given us a shrewdly plotted, furiously paced novel that is as visceral and gripping as anything he has published to date.

The opening chapters find Davenport in unusually placid circumstances. He is financially secure, having developed and sold a lucrative line of computer simulation software; he is enjoying a brief, atypical period of complete celibacy; and he is increasingly isolated from the life of the streets by the endless bureaucratic demands of his role as deputy chief of the Minneapolis Police Department. Reality, of course, soon intervenes, and Davenport is pulled down from his ivory tower by a vicious, execution-style killing and its unexpected aftermath.

The killing is initiated by Carmel Loan, a sociopathic defense attorney with a million-dollar-a-year practice and a tendency to get what she wants. When she decides that she wants the handsome but unattainable husband of a wealthy local socialite named Barbara Allen, she hires the services of an out-of-town hitwoman named Clara Rinker, who successfully eliminates the inconvenient Allen but is also forced to shoot a Minneapolis police officer who stumbles onto the scene. From that point, events take on a life and momentum of their own.

First, a blackmailer with incriminating tapes ofCarmeldiscussing the proposed murder enters the picture, and Carmel and Clara join forces to eliminate the blackmailer and track down all existing copies of the tape. The resulting flurry of murders leads to a manhunt that pits Davenport, the Minneapolis PD, and numerous FBI agents against two desperate women who are ruthless and resourceful enough to give the combined forces of the law a serious run for their money.

While it is fascinating, as always, to watch the intuitive, equally ruthless Davenport bring his gamesman's instincts to bear on yet another complex investigation, the real heart of the novel is Sandford's striking presentation of the symbiotic relationship between his two killers and his gradual revelation of their essential characters. Clara Rink, a brisk, efficient professional hitwoman with dozens of murders to her credit, reveals an aspect of her nature that is surprisingly human, even vulnerable, while Carmel Loan, a pillar of the community with impeccable credentials, reveals a previously undiscovered taste for murder, mayhem, and conspiracy. It is Carmel who initiates most of the novel's more violent interludes, Carmel whose maneuverings lead to a final, bloody confrontation with Lucas Davenport.

Sandford — pseudonym of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Camp — writes clean, clear, highly kinetic prose that moves the action along at a pace only slightly short of the speed of light. The momentum of his writing galvanizes the narrative, enabling it to surmount and survive the occasional lapse in credibility (as, for example, when one of Carmel's dying victims scratches an important clue into his skin with his fingernails, a singularly unconvincing plot device I would never have expected from Sandford). Mostly, though, Certain Prey is an intelligent and authoritative thriller, a certified page-turner that rarely takes a questionable step. It may not exactly be art, but it is polished, professional entertainment of a high order and should more than meet the expectations of its author's large, and loyal, following.

—Bill Sheehan

Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. He is currently working on a book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub.

Dede Anderson
In what may be his most intriguing Prey book in years, John Sandford delivers a brutal, witty, at times even gruesomely funny, but always entertaining, chase. The vivid and complex Clara and Carmel are worthy adversaries for Lucas' hard-earned crime solving skills – skills that, at times, seem almost too magical....The action is non-stop, the pace breathless and, best of all, the great Lucas Davenport has finally met his match.
The Mystery Reader.com
Kirkus Reviews
After ten thrillers in his series about Minneapolis cop Lucas Davenport (Secret Prey, 1998, etc.), Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist John Camp, writing under his Sandford pen name, hits a home run over the curve of the earth as the brilliantly swift Certain Prey sinks a meat hook under the reader's jaw on page one and never lets up. In the opening scene, Clara Rinker, a 16-year-old runaway and nude dancer, is raped one night behind her St. Louie nudie bar and within two pages she has her revenge, battering her fat-trucker rapist's head in with a metal baseball bat. Her coolness about the murder leads her to become a hit woman for the Mafia. By age 20, reader-friendly Clara's making so much money as an assassin-for-hire that she goes to business school to figure out how best to use the cash she's been piling up under various names. When Minneapolis defense attorney Carmel Loan decides she wants a rival removed, she has a Mafia client hire Clara for her. Clara does the hit, killing Barbara Allen, but a cop witnesses the deed and is shot as well. Which draws in Lucas. Will the spiritedly attractive villain survive her encounter with Lucas and go on, like Hannibal Lecter, to enjoy an even greater feast of crimes? Top suspense. (Book-of-the-Month main selection)
From the Publisher
Praise for Certain Prey

“Intensely cinematic...slickly compelling.”—The Seattle Times

“Brilliantly swift…sinks a meat hook under the reader's jaw on page one and never lets up.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Clever plotting, sure pacing...rich in authentic detail.” —Publishers Weekly

“Keep[s] readers up way past bedtime—and keep[s] them awake even after the last page is reached.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Suspense to the end...intelligent and fascinating.” —Naples Daily News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425174272
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Series: Lucas Davenport Series, #10
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 186,269
  • Product dimensions: 4.40 (w) x 7.54 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

John Sandford
#1 New York Times bestselling author John Sandford is the pseudonym of Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist John Camp. He is the author of the Prey novels, which inlcude most recently Field of Prey, Silken Prey, and Stolen Prey; the Kidd novels, including The Fool's Run and The Empress File, the Virgil Flowers novels including Storm Front, Mad River, and Shock Wave, and the stand-alone thrillers The Night Crew, and Dead Watch. He lives in Minnesota.
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    1. Also Known As:
      John Roswell Camp
    2. Hometown:
      St. Paul, Minnesota
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 23, 1944
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    1. Education:
      State University of Iowa, Iowa City: B.A., American History; M.A., Journalism
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

    Clara Rinker.

    Of the three unluckiest days in Barbara Allen's life, the first was the day Clara Rinker was raped behind a St. Louis nudie bar called Zanadu, which was located west of the city in a dusty checkerboard of truck terminals, warehouses and light assembly plants. Zanadu, as its chrome-yellow I-70 billboard proclaimed, was E-Z On, E-Z Off. The same was not true of Clara Rinker, despite what Zanadu's customers thought.

    Rinker was sixteen when she was raped, a small athletic girl, a dancer, an Ozarks runaway. She had bottle-blond hair that showed darker roots, and a body that looked wonderful in V-necked, red-polka-dotted, thin cotton dresses from Kmart. A body that drew the attention of cowboys, truckers and other men who dreamt of Nashville.

    Rinker had taken up nude dancing because she could. It was that, fuck for money or go hungry. The rape took place at two o'clock in the morning on an otherwise delightful April night, the kind of night when midwestern kids are allowed to stay out late and play war, when cicadas hum down from their elm-bark hideaways. Rinker had closed the bar that night; she was the last dancer up.

    Four men were still drinking when she finished. Three were hound-faced long-distance truckers who had nowhere to go but the short beds in their various Kenworths, Freightliners and Peterbilts; and one was a Norwegian exotic-animal dealer drowning the sorrows of a recent mishap involving a box of boa constrictors and thirty-six thousand dollars' worth of illegal tropical birds.

    A fifth man, a slope-shouldered gorilla named Dale-Something, had walked out of the bar halfway through Rinker's last grind. He left behind twelve dollars in crumpled ones and two small sweat rings where his forearms had been propped on the bar. Rinker had worked down the bar-top, stopping for ten seconds in front of each man for what the girls called a crack shot. Dale-Something had gotten the first shot, and he had stood up and walked out as soon as she moved to the next guy. When she was done, Rinker hopped off the end of the bar and headed for the back to get into her street clothes.

    A few minutes later, the bartender, a University of Missouri wrestler named Rick, knocked on the dressing room door and said, "Clara? Will you close up the back?"

    "I'll get it," she said, pulling a fuzzy pink tube top over her head, shaking her ass to get it down. Rick respected the dancers' privacy, which they appreciated; it was purely a psychological thing, since he worked behind the bar, and spent half his night looking up their ...

    Anyway, he respected their privacy.

    When she was dressed, Rinker killed the lights in the dressing room, walked down to the ladies' room, checked to make sure it was empty, which it always was, and then did the same for the men's room, which was also empty, except for the ineradicable odor of beer-flavored urine. At the back door, she snapped out the hall lights, released the bolt on the lock and stepped outside into the soft evening air. She pulled the door shut, heard the bolt snap, rattled the door handle to make sure that it was locked and headed for her car.

    A rusted-out Dodge pickup crouched on the lot, two-thirds of the way down to her car. A battered aluminum camper slumped on the back, with curtains tangled in the windows. Every once in a while, somebody would drink too much and would wind up sleeping in his car behind the place; so the truck was not exactly unprecedented. Still, Rinker got a bad vibe from it. She almost walked back around the building to see if she could catch Rick before he went out the front.

    Almost. But that was too far and she was probably being silly and Rick was probably in a hurry and the truck was dark, nothing moving ...

Dale-Something was sitting on the far side of it, hunkered down in the pea gravel, his back against the driver's-side door. He'd been waiting for twenty minutes with decreasing patience, chewing breath mints, thinking about her. Somewhere, in the deep recesses of his mind, breath mints were a concession to gentility, as regarded women. He chewed them as a favor to her.

    When he heard the back door closing, he levered his butt off the ground, peeked through a car window, saw her coming, alone. He waited, crouched behind the car: he was a big guy, much of his bigness in fat, but he took pride in his size anyway.

    And he was quick: Rinker never had a chance.

    When she stepped around the truck, keys rattling in her hand, he came out of the dark and hit her like an NFL tackle. The impact knocked her breath out; she lay beneath him, gasping, the gravel cutting her bare shoulders. He flipped her over, twisting her arms, clamping both of her skinny wrists in one hand and the back of her neck in the other.

    And he said, his minty breath next to her ear, "You fuckin' scream and I'll break your fuckin' neck."

    She didn't fuckin' scream because something like this had happened before, with her stepfather. She had screamed and he almost had broken her fuckin' neck. Instead of screaming, Rinker struggled violently, thrashing, spitting, kicking, swinging, twisting, trying to get loose. But Dale-Something's hand was like a vise on her neck, and he dragged her to the camper, pulled open the door, pushed her inside, ripped her pants off and did what he was going to do in the flickering yellow illumination of the dome light.

    When he was done, he threw her out the back of the truck, spit on her, said, "Fuckin' bitch, you tell anybody about this, and I'll fuckin' kill ya." That was most of what she remembered about it later: lying naked on the gravel, and getting spit on; that, and all the wiry hair on Dale's fat wobbling butt.

Rinker didn't call the cops, because that would have been the end of her job. And, knowing cops, they probably would have sent her home to her step-dad. So she told Zanadu's owners about the rape. The brothers Ernie and Ron Battaglia were concerned about both Rinker and their bar license. A nudie joint didn't need sex crimes in the parking lot.

    "Jeez," Ron said when Rinker told him about the rape. "That's terrible, Clara. You hurt? You oughta get yourself looked at, you know?"

    Ernie took a roll of bills from his pocket, peeled off two hundreds, thought about it for a couple of seconds, peeled off a third and tucked the three hundred dollars into her backup tube top. "Get yourself looked at, kid."

    She nodded and said, "You know, I don't wanna go to the cops. But this asshole should pay for what he did."

    "We'll take care of it," Ernie offered.

    "Let me take care of it," Rinker said.

    Ron put up an eyebrow. "What do you want to do?"

    "Just get him down the basement for me. He said something about being a roofer, once. He works with his hands. I'll get a goddamn baseball bat and bust one of his arms."

    Ron looked at Ernie, who looked at Rinker and said, "That sounds about right. Next time he comes in, huh?"

They didn't do it the next time he came in, which was a week later, looking nervous and shifty-eyed, like he might not be welcomed. Rinker refused to work with Dale-Something at the bar, and when she cornered Ernie in the kitchen, he told her that, goddamnit, they were right in the middle of tax season and neither he nor Ron had the emotional energy for a major confrontation.

    Rinker kept working on them, and the second time Dale-Something showed up, which was two days after tax day, the brothers were feeling nasty. They fed him drinks and complimentary peanuts and kept him talking until after closing. Rick the bartender hustled the second-to-the-last guy out, and left himself, not looking back; he knew something was up.

    Then Ron came around the bar, and Ernie got Dale-Something looking the other way, and Ron nailed him with a wild, out-of-the-blue roundhouse right that knocked Dale off the barstool. Ron landed on him, rolled him, and Ernie raced around the bar and threw on a pro-wrestling death lock. Together, they dragged a barely resisting Dale-Something down the basement stairs.

    The brothers had him on his feet and fully conscious by the time Rinker came down, carrying her aluminum baseball bat; or rather, T-ball bat, which had a better swing-weight for a small woman.

    "I'm gonna sue you fuckers for every fuckin' dime you got," Dale-Something said, sputtering blood through his split lip. "My fuckin' lawyer is doin' the money-dance right now, you fucks ..."

    "Fuck you, you ain't doing shit," Ron said. "You raped this little girl."

    "What do you want, Clara?" Ernie asked. He was standing behind Dale with his arms under Dale's armpits, his hands locked behind Dale's neck. "You wanna arm or a leg?"

    Rinker was standing directly in front of Dale-Something, who glowered at her: "I'm gonna ..." he started.

    Rinker interrupted: "Fuck legs," she said. She whipped the bat up, and then straight back down on the crown of Dale-Something's head.

    The impact sounded like a fat man stepping on an English walnut. Ernie, startled, lost his death grip and Dale-Something slipped to the floor like a two-hundred-pound blob of Jell-O.

    "Holy shit," Ron said, and crossed himself.

    Ernie prodded Dale-Something with the toe of his desert boot, and Dale blew a bubble of blood. "He ain't dead," Ernie said.

    Rinker's bat came up, and she hit Dale again, this time in the mastoid process behind the left ear. She hit him hard; her step-dad used to make her chop wood for the furnace, and her swing had some weight and snap behind it. "That ought to do it," she said.

    Ernie nodded and said, "Yup." Then they all looked at each other in the light of the single bare bulb, and Ron said to Rinker, "Some heavy shit, Clara. How do you feel about this?"

    Clara looked at Dale-Something's body, the little ring of black blood around his fat lips, and said, "He was a piece of garbage."

    "You don't feel nothin'?" Ernie asked.

    "Nothin'." Her lips were set in a thin, grim line.

    After a minute, Ron looked up the narrow wooden stairs and said, "Gonna be a load `n' a half getting his ass outa the basement."

    "You got that right," Ernie said, adding, philosophically, "I coulda told him there ain't no free pussy."

Dale-Something went into the Mississippi and his truck was parked across the river in Granite City, from which spot it disappeared in two days. Nobody ever asked about Dale, and Rinker went back to dancing. A few weeks later, Ernie asked her to sit with an older guy who came in for a beer. Rinker cocked her head and Ernie said, "No, it's okay. You don't have to do nothin'."

    So she got a longneck Bud and went to sit with the guy, who said he was Ernie's aunt's husband's brother. He knew about Dale-Something. "You feeling bad about it yet?"

    "Nope. I'm a little pissed that Ernie told you about it, though," Rinker said, taking a hit on the Budweiser.

    The older man smiled. He had very strong, white teeth to go with his black eyes and almost-feminine long lashes. Rinker had the sudden feeling that he might show a girl a pretty good time, although he must be over forty. "You ever shoot a gun?" he asked.

That's how Rinker became a hit lady. She wasn't spectacular, like the Jackal or one of those movie killers. She just took care of business, quietly and efficiently, using a variety of silenced pistols, mostly .22s. Careful, close-range killings became a trademark.

    Rinker had never thought of herself as stupid, just as someone who hadn't yet had her chance. When the money from the killings started coming in, she knew that she didn't know how to handle it. So she went to the Intercontinental College of Business in the mornings, and took courses in bookkeeping and small business. When she was twenty, getting a little old for dancing nude, she got a job with the Mafia guy, working in a liquor warehouse. And when she was twenty-four, and knew a bit about the business, she bought a bar of her own in downtown Wichita, Kansas, and renamed it the Rink.

    The bar did well. Still, a few times a year, Rinker'd go out of town with a gun and come back with a bundle of money. Some she spent, but most she hid, under a variety of names, in a variety of places. One thing her step-dad had taught her well: sooner or later, however comfortable you might be at the moment, you were gonna have to run.


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Table of Contents

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Interviews & Essays

On Friday, May 14th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed John Sandford to discuss CERTAIN PREY.

Moderator: Welcome, John Sandford! Thank you for taking the time to join us online this afternoon to chat about your new book, CERTAIN PREY. How are you doing today?

John Sandford: All right.

Bobbi from San Mateo: I have read all your books and just love the Prey books. They are thrillers of the best sort --psych thrillers. I would like to know how you come up with the plots and the twists in the Prey books. How do you decide on the type of plot Detective Davenport will be in? I have not read the new one but am looking forward to doing so.

John Sandford: I was a newspaper reporter for more than 20 years, and the basis for most of the things that I write, I have actually seen. I take an actual event, but I don't use it in a straightforward way; rather, I blend it with other things I have seen and give it a fictional twist and change it in ways that appeal to me, and they eventually come out as the fictional product. So it is almost like engineering in that I take all these small parts that I have accumulated over 20 years of newspaper reporting, then I build them together into a new story, but most of the parts are things that I have seen or witnessed.

Dambach from New Hampshire: How have you been able to keep the Prey novels "fresh," given the quantity you've produced over the last ten years -- and how have you prevented burnout? What does your daily, weekly writing regimen consist of? Thanks.

John Sandford: The problem of keeping the novels fresh is one of my biggest problems. I may come up with many different story ideas over a year, and most of them get rejected as I try to work slowly toward the idea that will become the next novel. Most of the differences in the novels are in character, in the person of the villain, although other characters, like Davenport, change through time. I can't completely explain how you keep something fresh, but I can tell you that it is one of the major struggles that I go through. As for the writing, I find that the only way I can do it is to get on a pretty hard schedule -- and I do it every day -- so I work from an office building in downtown St. Paul in a regular office suite, and I show up in the late evening, usually at eight o'clock, and typically work till 1 or 2am. By keeping myself on a schedule, in an office setting rather than in my home, I push myself into a work mode where I have no alternative but to work; there is no place to go and fool around. If you look at a typical newspaper column, it will have 750 words in it top to bottom; those guys are producing 750 to a thousand words a day five days a week. If you can do that, you can write a novel the length of my novel in about seven months, so that is what it comes down to. In addition to the creativity, you actually have to work very hard, and that involves four or five hours a day, six of seven days a week for six or seven months.

Gerald from New York: Your heroes, Lucas Davenport and Kidd, have very distinct voices. What do you do to "get into" each character's voice? Also, you've mentioned wanting to do another Kidd book someday. How close are you to writing it? Thank you.

John Sandford: When I am trying to get into a specific voice, I have to imagine myself talking for the character or having the character talk to me, and then I just try to listen and see if he sounds like himself. Sometimes this involves reading what I have just written aloud. The problem of voice is critical because it is one of the things that distinguishes your characters from each other in the book, and you therefore must have a tight grasp of your character's personality before he starts to speak. So if you were to think of yourself as a New Yorker talking to a guy from Iowa, you would imagine the rhythms and words of his speech would be different from a man from Brooklyn. What you have to do is get close enough to your character that you can hear those things as they naturally come out. As for the Kidd book, a number of people have asked me if there will ever be another one; it is almost the most common question I get asked. My son, who is a computer guy, kept bugging me about this until I finally told him that if he would block out the story and help me with the plot twists, then I would write another Kidd novel. He is doing that and we are about 30,000 words into the novel, which is about one-third of the way. We will now have to set it aside while I work on a Prey novel, then we will pick it up next spring and finish it, and we hope to publish it in autumn of the year 2000, assuming that our computers still work...

JWC901@aol.com from New Jersey: What to you is the key of writing effective suspenseful fiction?

John Sandford: Actually there is no single key, but two of the more important ones are motion and detail. The opening paragraph of the book should have substantial movement that begins to carry the reader away. You should not open, in my opinion, with static description or background. You should open with action and keep it going. The second key is detail -- in which you represent some particular aspect of the world in very sharp relief. If you go to a bar and write down the things you see in the smallest detail that you can imagine -- if you write down the kinds of liquor bottles behind the bar and what they look like and what the bar looks like and what the stools look like and what is on the floor, you will surprise yourself with the vividness of the writing. If you simply imagine a bar without looking at one, the writing will be stale. So the very best writing seems to me to come from immediate experience. I was fortunate enough to come from a newspaper background where I experienced or encountered many of the types of scenes that occur in my genre. I know that cops laugh at crime scenes and tell jokes. I know that some criminals are very personable and that some of them look like clerks. I know what the inside of a police station looks like, and during the course of writing one of my novels, I try to experience all of those things over again. Where my novels most often fall into routine or colorlessness are those places where I haven't recently seen what I am talking about -- where I am just making it up and that is it.

Ventura from Dade County, FL: How much Lucas Davenport do we see in John Sandford, or shall I say John Camp? And vice versa...

John Sandford: Not very much. I was on a radio show in the Twin Cities -- the host is a friend of mine who I play golf with -- and he told his listeners that when you look at me walking down the golf course, wearing a fishing hat, you would not believe the things that I think of. In a way, I am like some of my criminal characters who are just ordinary people with one large, monstrous anomaly. I am just a guy with a 16 handicap in golf who has the monstrous anomaly that he writes crime fiction.

Ray and Dolores from Wheeling, IL: I would like to say that I (Ray) have read every one of the Prey books -- the last four out loud to my wife, Dolores, who is visually handicapped. We are big fans! Are you going to be doing any tours for CERTAIN PREY that would include the Chicago area?

John Sandford: I was in Chicago on Wednesday. Sorry I missed you...

Jerri from Minneapolis: I'm curious if you have any training in computer programming and/or software design, as that's how you have Lucas Davenport earning his fortune.

John Sandford: The short answer is no. However, the newspaper business began converting to computers in the middle 1970s. My first editing job involved working with a remarkably unpleasant computer that crashed constantly and had to be rebooted with paper tape. I was given a class in working with this computer, the easy mechanical parts. Later on I was sent to a seminar in political polling methods, where I was trained to work with the SPSS stats package and computers that were programmed with punch cards. In the late 1970s I started working with the earliest Radio Shack computers for writing...and I learned some BASIC programming. So I don't have a formal knowledge of computers, but they have been in my life for 25 years, and I have some understanding of the way they work. The rest of it is faked.

Judy Khoo from Singapore: Hi, Mr. Sandford. I have been following all your Prey books and always look forward to the next one. Can you please let me know when CERTAIN PREY will hit the Asia market?

John Sandford: Most of the Asian distribution, including Singapore, is done through the English publisher, Hodder-Headline. The book has been published and should reach Singapore fairly quickly. Or you could buy the book at barnesandnoble.com.

Byron from Hollywood, FL: What is it about The Miami Herald that spawns so many bestselling novelists? Are you still in touch with authors like Edna Buchanan?

John Sandford: The thing about the Herald was it was in such an exciting city -- it was called the Casablanca of America -- that it seemed to attract writers who were caught up in the excitement of the city itself. There are all kinds of great writers in Florida now, not just at the Herald. But of course if you are trying to start a writing career, a place like the Herald is a good place to go. Carl Hiaasen still works there. Edna works there sometimes; Dave Barry is about to publish a novel. John Katzenbach has worked out of the Herald; I don't know if James Hall ever worked for the Herald, but he fits right in there. And over on the other coast, Randy Wayne White is almost the natural successor to John D. MacDonald. I should mention that Randy, one of my favorite authors, has also produced one of my favorite nonfiction titles, BATFISHING IN THE RAINFOREST. Florida has a good bunch of people -- produced, I think, by the excitements and the tensions of the state and the attractions that has for writers.

Jeff from Maryland: Do you feel you are reaching the limits of the Lucas Davenport character as far as character development?

John Sandford: I think Davenport may have a few more surprises left. I have contracted for three more books, and I already have a pretty good idea of what the three are about. Whether I could do more after that, I don't yet know. I would like to end the series before he becomes stale. Although I will say, that Robert Parker has been writing the Spenser series for a lot longer than I have been writing the Davenport series, and Parker hasn't gotten stale at all. If I could emulate Parker, I may have another half a dozen in me.

Janet from Coon Rapids, MN: I am a big fan of all of your Prey books. Do you ever plan on starting a new series?

John Sandford: I have always wanted to own a golf course. I even have the name for the golf course --Rattlesnake. I have this vague idea that I could perhaps end the Davenport series in some upbeat way and then come back with a novel called RATTLESNAKE that is set on a golf course, which involves a crime and in which Davenport is a major character but not the major character. I would then continue with the series of Rattlesnake novels built around a kind of repertory company of golf course characters involved in solving various crimes. It sounds goofy, but I suspect it would be a lot of fun. People at my golf course have suggested the opening scene of the first book, where a guy blasts out of the sand trap and when he looks down to where his ball was, he sees a nose sticking out of the sand. It turns out he has found the dead body of the golf pro, who had disappeared a couple of days earlier, and that is all I have on that one.

Sue from Irvine, CA: What did you think of the Prey movie NBC recently aired? Did you have much input into it?

John Sandford: I had no input into it, although the movie input into my checking account. The movie was okay, but I thought it was terribly bleak -- much more bleak than I had anticipated. I think any kind of story needs some relief, and I am not sure that the movie had enough of that.

Vicky from Seattle, WA: I grew up in Minnesota, so I can see clearly the areas that Lucas goes to. When you use the name of an actual business in the Cities, do you have to get permission?

John Sandford: No. I usually try to avoid using any real businesses in a major way in a story. But if I use them almost in a news sense -- that is, as part of a scene, I just feel free to go ahead and do that.

Rosa Gozzer from New York: Mr. Sandford, regarding Lucas Davenport: Where did you come up with a character like that? Is he a character that reminds you of someone, or is it someone you know or knew? I just have to tell you that I simply adore Lucas. Thanks for your time, and kudos to you, Mr. Sandford, for being such a great writer. You are one of my favorites!

John Sandford: Lucas -- although he seems almost like a friend that I haven't bumped into for a while -- is actually something of an engineering project. I took what I know about a lot of cops, then I blended that with my ideas that I got from fictional characters and added a little touch of a movie star or two and came up with the final character. To keep him interesting I had to give him a lot of interests so that he has an insight into a lot of different aspects to life. Because I was also interested in attracting women readers I wanted somebody who would be attractive to women, not in the usual sense of attractive, but in the sense that they would find him engaging.

Mary from New York: Will you be signing CERTAIN PREY in the New York area?

John Sandford: Yes, I will. Starting Sunday and on Monday, but I don't have my schedule with me right now and can't tell you where exactly I will be. However, if you put John Sandford into a search engine like Alta Vista, you should kick up a web page that somewhere in the address has the word "Rehov" -- that is a web page put up by my son and should have the full schedule on it.

Rebecca from Friendsville, TN: You must picture your characters from your book. Did the television adaptation of the Prey book fit your idea of how they should look?

John Sandford: What Rebecca may be asking about is the main character in MIND PREY, who was played by Eriq LaSalle, who is black, while Davenport is portrayed in the novels as a white guy. One of the reasons Eriq was chosen for the part was that he combined the sense of intelligence with the capacity and perhaps even attraction for violence. That is Davenport. Eriq was just fine in the Davenport role, although I think the movie had some problems in other areas. As for the minor characters in the movie, they were not exactly as I would have seen them as I described them in my novel. But you aren't going to get that in any movie. I do think the police chief was an excellent choice, and Sloan was also right on target.

Moderator: Do you have any books you've been saving up to read this summer?

John Sandford: I don't save books. I read them right away. Robert Parker has an excellent book out. I am reading HOME TOWN by Tracy Kidder. Robert Crais has a book that I am waiting for. And Patricia Cornwell I understand is due out in the middle of July. So that is what I am reading now and looking forward to.

Ray and Dolores from Wheeling, IL: We have followed the life of Lucas over the years, and of course he is getting older. Do you plan to continue the Prey series into the twilight years of Lucas, or do you have in mind a point at which you would stop, or no plans whatsoever at this time?

John Sandford: I am aging at the rate of three months per real year. That is what I have in my head. When I finish with the series, Lucas will still be in his middle to late 40s, and although I am not sure, I believe I will probably have him achieve some kind of domestic success and happiness -- diapers and all that. But that is a way to go yet.

Lynn from St. Catharines, Ontario: Financial considerations aside, from what kind of writing to you derive the most personal satisfaction?

John Sandford: I have done journalism, I have written two nonfiction books and about 13 novels, and I enjoy them all. But the one thing that I would never want to give up would be the writing of fiction, and crime fiction or thriller fiction or adventure fiction -- or whatever you want to call it -- is my genre. I read a lot of history, but I am not competent to write it. Outside of history, I am a fan of other writers in my genre, and I really enjoy writing in it and reading it. So all considerations aside and even if I weren't making money at it, I would continue writing this kind of fiction.

Moderator: Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon, John Sandford. You have been an excellent guest, and we wish you the best of luck with CERTAIN PREY. Before you go, do you have any closing comments for your online audience?

John Sandford: I would recommend that everybody stop buying Star Wars books and start buying this one.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 102 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 103 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Good read

    I enjoy the Prey series and working my way through them and this one was as great as the first nine. Exciting series...on to the next!!!!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2011


    I had watched the movie and then decided to read the book. The book was excellent and thoroughly enjoyed reading.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Just aweosome

    Don't critize my spelling. I loved this book but i kind of skipped 2 through 19 and read Buried prey it was just as great if you didn't like this series you will never know what a great book this is.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2013

    Crazy Lady

    Great book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2013

    To belw

    I tried but it was spelled wrong and i followed ur word

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2012

    Best one yet!

    Enjoy this series though some are better than others. This one was my favorite thus far. Consistent action, doesn't drag in spots like some of the others have. Plus two interesting villians. One of whom is quite likeable!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2012

    Great read!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved the characters in this book and I thought the story line was very clever. Another great book by sandford.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    Typical Sanford, does not disappoint.

    He is a really great story teller. Good character development, exciting page turner. Hard to put down. Pinky

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012


    I love all his books though I am only 11. Hiis books are a little predictable. Mark Harmon is the best actor ever!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Love This Series

    I've read them all in order and Sandford just does not write a bad book. While there are some similarities between plots in a few of the novels, some are quite unique - including this one. Love his characters and the two bad guys (girls actually) in Certain Prey brought a completely different spin to this thriller series. While I'd recommend reading them in order, Certain Prey is one you could just grab and read with no prior "Davenport" experience.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 31, 2009

    If it's John Sanford, it must be good!

    I love the Lucas Davenport series & John Sanford didn't disappoint me. The story is interesting and held my attention from the start to the finish. In fact, this was my second time to read this book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2008

    Great stuff

    This one might be the best in the series. The others were good but they all lacked something. This book was well done, characters were strong and the plot was fantastic. Carmel was a bit to much for me I didnt see her doing the things she did but I looked past that and kept on and it was hard to put down near the end. Knowing how the rest of the series will turn out already makes it easier. Sandford best to date in my opinion, he has gotten better. The first 3-4 in the Prey series were pretty good but his simplistic writing style is tough to swallow but hes better every time I read em.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2008

    This is a thriller that kept me on the edge. Couldn't wait to finish!

    Love the suspense and the different characters. Lucas was a bit over played I thought but I liked his mindset. Trying different authors of mysteries and this one is a good mix. Recommend Mortal Prey but if you are interested in other books in the Prey series, leave Mortal Prey to the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2005

    The Absolue Best

    I have read all of the Lucas Davenport series and this is by far the best John Sanford has done. Not only is it a good story, but it is written in realistic terms, everyday language, and is easy to digest and enjoy. This book was outstanding.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2002

    Gotta Read

    This book was an edge of your seat thriller. I could NOT put this book down. It kept me wanting to read more. I have since read three other books by John Sandford. If you haven't read any of his books then you need to start!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2001

    'Fair To Good' At Best!

    While Certain Prey is a fast read, the story is too farfetched to be believable and the characters are not well-developed and are somewhat cartoonish. Given you know the killer(s) early on, there is not as much suspense as I've come to expect from John Sandford, especially from the early Prey books in the series. I'm afraid that Sandford is running out of credible plots and interesting, believable villains, and it might be time for Sandford to consider retiring Lucas Davenport. While I'm not ready to give up on this series, I'm going to need to see a lot of positive reader support before I buy another Sandford book. Bottom line is that Certain Prey is a book that holds your attention but does not live up to expectations.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2000

    Very Thrilling Book!

    This book was great! It showed a lot of detail and was very easy to read. I couldn't put it down! It really made you think. You would have never expected the book to end this way. The way it was written made you really think like it could happen and maybe has. It really draws you in. I recommend this book to people who like to read about suspense and comedy together. Also if you like fiction/fact books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2000

    Awesome story line.

    I could not put this book down. Easy to follow plot. Greatly written. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for excitement.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2000

    Certain Prey

    This is the 10th installment of John Sandford¿s Prey series with his protagonist Minneapolis police detective Lucas Davenport. Lucas Davenport confronts a new kind of adversary this time, a woman named Clara Rinker, and she is the best-hit woman in the business. Attorney Carmel Loan hires Clara Rinker when she wants barrister Hale Allen all to herself and wants Allen's wife out of the picture. This time things go wrong for Rinker. She leaves a witness who happens to be a cop. Carmel and Rinker team up together to clean up the loose ends, including Davenport. This book is filled with brilliant characters and is an exceptional thriller. Sandford keeps the level of suspense at a fevered pitch as he shifts viewpoints between the women and Davenport. It is a very well written and fast-paced book. This book is not for the faint of heart; it has a lot of gore, sex and to many bodies to keep track of, but even with that this is one great book to read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2000

    I never read books until now!!!

    This book had me on the edge of my seat from the first page anyone who likes good suspense will enjoy this book!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 103 Customer Reviews

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