Easy Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #11)

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Overview

In life she was a high-profile model. In death she is the focus of a media firestorm that’s demanding action from Lucas Davenport. One of his own men is a suspect in her murder. But when a series of bizarre, seemingly unrelated slayings rock the city, Davenport suspects a connection that runs deeper than anyone had imagined—one that leads to an ingenious killer more ruthless than anyone had feared....

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Easy Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #11)

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Overview

In life she was a high-profile model. In death she is the focus of a media firestorm that’s demanding action from Lucas Davenport. One of his own men is a suspect in her murder. But when a series of bizarre, seemingly unrelated slayings rock the city, Davenport suspects a connection that runs deeper than anyone had imagined—one that leads to an ingenious killer more ruthless than anyone had feared....

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
May 2000

Killing Season Is Here!

John Sandford's Easy Prey marks the 11th appearance of charismatic Minneapolis police chief Lucas Davenport. Set just months after the events recorded in Certain Prey -- which pitted Davenport and his fellow officers against a most unusual contract killer -- Easy Prey is vintage Sandford: an authoritative, furiously paced, sometimes very funny novel that reinforces Davenport's position as one of the more durable, hard-edged heroes in contemporary crime fiction.

As the new novel opens, it is late fall, and the first hints of arctic weather are settling in on the Twin Cities. Against this backdrop, world-famous supermodel Alie'e Maison -- formerly Sharon Olson of Burnt River, Minnesota -- returns to her home state for a fashion shoot conducted by Amnon Plain, an innovative photographer with a complex personal history. Trouble begins when Alie'e attends a party given by a wealthy Minnesota socialite. The party -- which is attended by literally dozens of the city's beautiful people and is characterized by the presence of an "ocean of drugs" -- ends prematurely when Alie'e is discovered in an unused bedroom, naked from the waist down and strangled to death.

By the time Davenport arrives on the scene, a bad situation has quickly gotten worse. A second body -- that of Sandy Lansing, hostess at an upscale local hotel -- has been found in a closet. Cause of death: a fractured skull. Eyewitness testimony points to the presence of a suspicious stranger,an apparent "street person" who turns out to be an undercover narcotics officer for the Minneapolis Police Department. When a postmortem examination indicates that, shortly before her death, Alie'e had had sexual contact with one or more women, Davenport realizes that this latest investigation has all the earmarks of a public-relations nightmare and a media circus. And that is just what it turns out to be.

During the course of the investigation, which lasts for a week and captures the attention of the entire nation, Davenport finds himself caught up in a rising tide of violence, as a second wave of murders sweeps across both Minneapolis and St. Paul. At least one of these murders appears to be the work of the original killer, who is desperately attempting to cover his tracks. The rest seem to have been committed -- by a friend, relative, or demented fan -- as an extended form of revenge against the people responsible for the moral decline and ultimate destruction of Alie'e Maison. The hunt for these two independent killers leads Davenport through a series of overlapping encounters involving religious mania, multiple personality disorder, drugs, orgies, incest, and celebrity sex. The result is a novel that works both as a viscerally exciting crime story and a shrewdly judged portrait of our tabloid, media-saturated culture.

Complementing all of this is Sandford's ongoing portrait of the complex personality -- and the equally complex personal life -- of Lucas Davenport. The Davenport who comes gradually into focus in these novels is a man of action who is equally at home in the upper echelons of City Hall politics and the lower depths of the Minneapolis streets. He is a problem solver, but not a thinker; is at ease with violence but loves poetry, particularly the work of Emily Dickinson. He performs his duties with ruthless efficiency, but is never quite sure whether he is driven by the desire to serve justice or the need to win, whatever the cost. Most centrally, he is a man who is defined by his endless -- and helpless -- attraction to beautiful women, an attraction which, more often than not, is mutual.

In Easy Prey, three women circulate in alternating rhythms through Davenport's life. One is Dr. Weather Karkinnen, whom he once almost married, and who may be on the verge of reentering his life. Another is an old college sweetheart currently undergoing a classic midlife crisis. The third is a beautiful, bisexual former model with an uncomplicated affinity for therapeutic sex. As Davenport vacillates from woman to woman, wanting them all and unable to choose, Easy Prey develops an unexpectedly comic dimension, underscored by Davenport's ironic reflection on the words of St. Augustine: "Lord, let me be pure. But not yet."

Easy Prey is another certified Sandford crowd-pleaser: crisply written, cleverly constructed, difficult to set aside. Once again, Sandford has avoided the insidious traps of laziness, repetition, and over-familiarity, and has created a fresh, exciting entry in a consistently exciting series that seems poised to continue for a good many years to come.

--Bill Sheehan

Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, will be published by Subterranean Press (www.subterraneanpress.com) in the spring of 2000.

Barnes & Noble Guide to New Fiction
In this twelfth novel in the "Prey" series, Sanford presents an unsettling personal dilemma for Lucas Davenport, investigating the murder of a fashion model. Reviewers commented that this "lengthy detective story has too many characters and is unevenly paced." And it was ultimately "predictable."
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The throaty voice of veteran audiobook reader Conger lends Sanford's latest Lucas Davenport thriller a sense of immediacy. Minneapolis detective Davenport is called to a wealthy socialite's house, where the bodies of a supermodel and another woman have been found in a bedroom after a party. Shortly afterwards, relatives and associates of the model, who came from a humble Minnesota town, begin experiencing grisly deaths. With suspects that range from the model's ultrareligious brother to a suspected drug runner, the story takes several unsuspected twists before its resolution. Conger handles the text perfectly, sounding as if he has a coffee cup in one hand and a cigarette in the other while rendering the staccato and often obscene language of Sanford's rough-hewn characters. The recording also inserts background sound effects in interesting, albeit seemingly random, situations to enhance its presentation. A subplot involving Davenport's romantic interludes is tiresome and extraneous, but Conger's excellent rendition of the investigation's many turns will keep listeners engaged to the end. Based on the Putnam hardcover (Forecasts, Mar. 20). (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
The 11th appearance of Minneapolis Police Chief Lucas Davenport is set in late fall. Supermodel Alie'e Mason returns to Minnesota for a photo shoot; later she is found dead, strangled during a party attended by socialites and awash in illegal drugs. Davenport arrives on the scene as a second body surfaces, that of a hotel hostess with a fractured skull. When a second wave of murders occurs, there is the indication that the original killer and a copycat are at work. The investigation leads the chief through a maze of religious fervor, drugs, and sex. In addition, his private life is complicated by three women--a former fianc e, an old college sweetheart, and a beautiful ex-model. The seemingly simple plot evolves into a complex and engrossing mystery. Eric Conger's clear reading adds depth to this riveting tale. Recommended.--Denise A. Garofalo, Mid-Hudson Lib. Syst., Poughkeepsie, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425178768
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/27/2001
  • Series: Lucas Davenport Series , #11
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 120,555
  • Product dimensions: 4.52 (w) x 7.54 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

John Sandford

John Sandford is the author of twenty-two Prey novels, most recently Stolen Prey; the Virgil Flowers novels, most recently Shock Wave; and six other books. He lives in Minnesota.

Biography

John Camp (better known to readers as thrillmeister John Sandford) began his career as a journalist -- first as a crime reporter for The Miami Herald, then as a general reporter, columnist, and features writer for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press & Dispatch. In 1986, he won the Pulitzer Prize for "Life on the Land: An American Farm Family," a five-part series examining the farm crisis in southwest Minnesota.

Camp's interests turned to fiction in the mid-1980s, and he took time off to write two novels which were ultimately accepted for publication: The Fool's Run, a techno-thriller featuring a complex con man known as Kidd, and Rules of Prey, a police procedural starring maverick Minneapolis detective Lucas Davenport. When both books were scheduled (by different publishers) to be released three months apart in 1989, Camp was persuaded to adopt a pseudonym for one. He chose his paternal grandmother's maiden name, "Sandford" for Rules of Prey, and the nom de plume has remained attached to all the books in the series.

Less Dick Tracy than Dirty Harry, hard-boiled, iconoclastic Lucas Davenport is a composite of the cops Camp met while working the crime beat as a reporter. Intelligent and street smart, Davenport is also manipulative and not above bending the rules to get results. And although he has mellowed over time (something of a skirt chaser in his youth, he is now married with children), he remains one of the edgiest and most popular protagonists in detective fiction. Fans keep returning to the Prey books for their intelligently hatched plots, high-octane pacing, and deft, fully human characterizations.

From time to time, Camp strays from his bestselling series for standalone thrillers (The Night Crew, Dead Watch), and in 2007 he introduced a new series hero, Virgil Flowers of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, who debuted in Dark of the Moon. Although he is no longer a full-time journalist, Camp contributes occasional articles and book reviews to various publications. He is also a passionate archaeologist and has worked at a number of digs, mainly in Israel.

Good To Know

Don't confuse John Sandford with John Sanford -- it's one of Sandford's pet peeves. Sanford (without the "d") is a Christian philosophy writer.

The Sandford pseudonym has caused a few problems for Camp in the past. At an airport once, his ticket was reserved under Sandford, while all of his identification, of course, had the name Camp. Luckily, he had one of his novels with him, and thanks to the book jacket photo, he was able to convince airport security to let him on the plane.

The books in Camp's less successful Kidd series (The Fool's Run, The Empress File, The Devil's Code, and The Hanged Man's Song) have been re-released under the Sandford pseudonym.

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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

one

WHEN THE FIRST MAN WOKE UP THAT MORNing, he wasn’t thinking about killing anyone. He woke up with a head full of blues, a brain that was too big for his skull, and a bladder about to burst. He lay with his eyes closed, breathing across a tongue that tasted like burnt chicken feathers. The blues rolled in through the bedroom door.

Coming down hard.

He had been flying on cocaine for three days, getting everything done, everything. Then last night, coming down, he’d stopped at a liquor store for a bottle of Stolichnaya. His bleeding brain retained a picture of himself lifting the bottle off the shelf, and another picture of an argument with the counterman, who didn’t want to break a hundred-dollar bill.

By that time, the coke high had become unsustainable; and the Stoli had been a bad idea. There was no smooth landing after a three-day toot, but the vodka turned a wheels-up belly landing into a full crash-and-burn. Now he’d pay. If you peeled open his skull and dumped it, he thought, his brain would look like a coagulated lump of Campbell’s bean soup.

He cracked his eyes, lifted his head, and looked at the clock. A few minutes past seven. He’d gotten four hours of sleep. Par for the course with coke, and the Stoli hadn’t helped. If he’d stayed down for ten hours, or twelve—he needed about sixteen to catch up—he might have been past the worst of it. Now he was just gonna have to suck it up.

He turned to his left, where a woman, a dishwater blonde, lay facedown in her pillow. He could only see about half of her head; the rest was buried by a red fleece blanket. She lay without moving, like a dead woman—but no such luck. He closed his eyes again, and there was nothing left in the world but the blues music bumping in from the next room, from the all-blues channel, nine-hundred-and-something on the TV dial. Must’ve left it on last night. . . .

Gotta move, he thought. Gotta pee. Gotta take twenty aspirins and go down to Country Kitchen and get some pancakes and link sausages. . . .

The man didn’t wake up thinking about murder. He woke up thinking about his head and his bladder and a stack of pancakes. Funny how things work out.

That night, when he killed two people, he was a little shocked.

-

Green-eyed Alie’e Maison stood in the hulk of a rust-colored Mississippi River barge. She was wrapped in a designer dress that looked like froth over a reef in the Caribbean Sea—an ankle-length dress the exact faded-jade color of her eyes, low-cut and sheer, hugging her hips, flaring at her ankles. She was large-eyed, barefoot, elfin, fleeing down a pale yellow two-by-twelve-inch pine plank, which stretched like a line of fire out of the purple gloom of the barge’s interior.

Behind her, a huge man in a sleeveless white T-shirt, filthy Sears work pants, and ten-inch work boots blew sparks off a piece of wrought iron with an acetylene torch. He was wearing a black dome-shaped welding helmet, and acrid gray smoke curled around his heavy, tense legs. The blank robotic faceplate, in combination with his hairy arms, the dirty shirt, the smoke, and the squat legs, gave him the grotesque crouching power of a gargoyle.

A fantasy at three thousand dollars an hour.

And not quite right.

-

“That’s no fucking good. NO FUCKING GOOD!”

Amnon Plain moved through the bank of strobes, his thick black hair falling over his forehead, his narrow glasses glittering in the set lights, his voice cutting like a piece of broken glass: “Alie’e, you’re freezing up at the line. I want you blowing out of the place. I want you moving faster when you come up to the line, not slower. You’re slowing down. And I want you to look pissed. You look annoyed, you look petulant—”

“I am annoyed—I’m freezing,” Alie’e snapped. “I’ve got goose bumps the size of oranges.”

Plain turned to an assistant: “Larry, move the heater into the back. You gotta get some heat on her.”

“We’ll get the fumes,” Larry said, arms akimbo, a deliberately effeminate pose. Larry wasn’t gay, just ironic.

“We’ll deal with the fucking fumes. Huh? Okay? We’ll deal with the fucking fumes.”

“You gotta do something. I’m really cold,” Alie’e said. She clasped her arms around herself and shivered for effect. A man dressed in black walked out from behind the lights, peeling off his cashmere sport coat. He was tall, thin, his over-the-shoulder brunette hair worn loose and back. He had a thick hammered-silver loop earring in his left ear and a dark soul-patch under his lower lip. “Take this until they’re ready again,” he said to Alie’e. She huddled in the coat. Turning away from them, Plain rolled his eyes. “Larry—move the fuckin’ heater.”

Larry shrugged and began wheeling the propane heater farther into the barge. If they all died of carbon monoxide poisoning, it wouldn’t be his fault.

Plain turned back to Alie’e. “Jax, take a hike, and take your coat with you. . . .”

“Hey—” the man in black said, but nobody was looking at him, or paying attention.

Plain continued: “Alie’e, I want you pissed. Don’t do that thing with your lips. You’re sticking your lips out, like this.” Plain pursed his lips. “That’s a pout. I don’t want a pout. Do it like this. . . .” He grimaced, and Alie’e tried to imitate him. This was one of her talents: the ability to imitate expression, the way a dancer could imitate motion.

“That’s better,” Plain said to Alie’e. “But make your mouth longer, turn it down, and get it set that way while you’re moving. Do it again.” She did it again, making the changes. “That’s good, but now you need some mouth.”

He turned back to the line of lights and the small crowd gathered behind them—an account executive, a creative director, a makeup artist, a hairdresser, a couture rep, a second photo assistant, and Alie’es parents, Lynn and Lil. Plain did not provide chairs, and the inside of the barge was not a place you’d want to sit down, not if your hand-tailored jeans cost four hundred and fifty dollars. To the makeup artist, Plain said, “Fix her mouth.” And to the second assistant: “Jimmy, where’s the fucking Polaroid? You got the Polaroid?”

Jimmy was fanning a six-by-seven-centimeter Polaroid color print, which was used to check exposure. He glanced at the print and said, “It’s coming up.”

Behind him, the creative director whispered to the account executive, “Says ‘fuck’ a lot,” and the account executive muttered, “They all do.”

Plain peered at the Polaroid, looked up at an overhead softbox. “Move that box. About two feet to the right, that way.” Jimmy moved it, and Plain looked around. “Everybody ready? Alie’e, remember the line. Clark, are you ready?”

The welder said, “Yeah, I’m ready. Was that enough sparks?”

“Sparks were fine, sparks were good,” Plain said. “You’re the only fucking professional working here this morning.” He looked back at Alie’e. “Now, don’t fucking pout—blow right through the line. . . .”

-

Alie’e waited patiently until her mouth was fixed, staring blankly past the makeup artist’s ear as a bit of color was patched into the left corner of her lower lip; Jax said into her ear, “Love you. You’re doing great, you look great.” Alie’e barely heard him. She was seeing herself walking the plank, the vision of herself that came from Plain’s mind.

When her mouth was done, she stepped back to her starting mark. Jax got out of the way, and when Plain said, “Go,” Alie’e got her expression right, started down the plank with a lanky, hip-swinging stride, and blew past the exposure line, the green dress swirling about her hips, the orange-yellow welder’s sparks flashing in the background. The stink and smoke of the burning metal curled around her as Plain, standing behind the camera, fired the bank of strobes.

“Better,” Plain said, stepping toward her. “A little fuckin’ better.”

-

They’d been working for two hours in the belly of the grain barge. The barge was a gift: a pilot on the Greek-owned Mississippi towboat Treponema had driven it into a protective abutment around a bridge piling. The damaged barge had been floated to the Anshiser repair yard in St. Paul, where welders cut away the buckled hull plates and prepared to burn on new ones. Plain spotted the disemboweled hulk while scouting for photo locations. He made a deal with Archer Daniels Midland, the barge owner: Delay repairs for a week, and ADM would make Vogue. The people who ran ADM couldn’t think of a good reason why the company would worry about Vogue, but their publicity ladies were wetting their pants, so they said okay and the deal was made.

-

They were still working with the green dress when a team from TV3 showed up, and they all took a break. Alie’e goofed around, for the camera, with Jax, showing a little skin, doing a long, slow, rolling tongue-kiss, which the camera crew asked them to redo twice, once as a silhouette. The interviewer for TV3, a square-jawed ex-jock with bleached teeth and a smile he’d perfected in his bathroom mirror, said, after the cameras shut down, “It’s a slow day. I think we’ll lead the news with this.”

Nobody asked why it was news: they all lived with cameras, and assumed that it was.

-

Two hours for four different shots, with and without fans, two rolls of high-saturation Fujichrome film for each of the shots. The Fuji would make the colors pop. Plain pronounced himself satisfied with the green dress, and they moved on.

The next pose involved a torn T-shirt and a pair of male-look women’s briefs, complete with the vented front. Alie’e and Jax moved against the far hull and a little shadow, and Alie’e turned her back to the photo crowd and peeled off the green dress. She’d been nude beneath the dress; anything else would ruin the line.

She was aware of her nudity but not self-conscious about it, as she had been at first. Her first jobs had been as one model in a group, and they usually changed all at once; she was simply one naked woman among several. By the time she started up the ladder to stardom, to individual attention, she’d become as conditioned to public nudity as a striptease dancer.

Even more than that. She’d worked in Europe, with the Germans, and total nudity wasn’t uncommon in fashion work. She remembered the first time she’d had her pubic hair brushed out, fluffed up. The brusher had been a thirty-something guy who’d squatted in front of her, smoking a cigarette while he brushed her, and then did a quick trim with a pair of barber scissors, all with the emotional neutrality of a postman sorting letters. Then the photographer came over to take a look, suggested a couple of extra snips. Her body might as well have been an apple. . . .

You want privacy? You turn your back. . . .

-

Alie’e Maison— “Ah-Lee-Ay May-Sone” —had been born Sharon Olson in Burnt River, Minnesota. Until she was seventeen, she’d lived with her parents and her brother, Tom, in a robin’s-egg-blue rambler just off Highway 54, fourteen miles south of the Canadian line. She was a beautiful baby. She won a beautiful-baby prize when she was a year old—she’d been born just before Halloween, and her costume was a pumpkin that her mother made on her Singer. A year later, Sharon toddled away with a statewide beautiful-toddler trophy. In that one, she’d been dressed as a lightning bug, in a suit of black and gold.

Dance and comportment lessons began when she was three, singing lessons when she was four. At five, she won the North Central Tap-Fairies contest for children five and younger. That was the pattern: Miss Junior North Country, International Miss Snow (International Falls and Fort Frances, Canada), Miss Border Lakes. She sang and danced through her school days. Miss Minnesota and even—her parents, Lynn and Lil, barely dared to dream it—Miss America was possible. Until she was fourteen, anyway.

When the breast genes were passed out in heaven, Alie’e had been in line for an extra helping of eyes instead. That became obvious in junior high when her friends began to complain about bra straps cutting into their necks. Not Alie’e. As the Olsons’ best friends, Ellen and Bud Benton, said—Bud said it, anyway— “Ain’t no Miss Minnesota without the big bumpers, y’know.”

As it happened, the breasts didn’t matter. In the summer of her sixteenth year, Lynn and Lil took her to a model agency in Minneapolis, and the agent liked what she saw. Alie’e had knife-edge cheekbones and those jade-green eyes. They came straight from God in a perfect package with white-blond hair, a flawless complexion, delicate fuck-me shoulder blades, and hips so narrow she’d have trouble giving birth to a baling wire.

Between Minneapolis and New York, Sharon Olson vanished and Alie’e Maison stepped into her size-six dress. She was so famous that the second-most-famous person in Burnt River was a lawn-care service operator named Louis Friar. Friar, one night in tenth grade, nailed Alie’e in the short grass beside the first-base line of the American Legion baseball diamond on Bergholm Road, on an air mattress that he’d brought along for that express purpose.

Louis never talked about it. He never even confirmed that it happened. He held the memory of the event in a beery reverence. Alie’e, on the other hand, talked to everyone; so everyone in Burnt River knew about it, and how, at the critical moment, Louis had cried out, “Oh God oh God oh God oh God,” which was why everybody in town called him Reverend. Friar himself thought the nickname was based on his last name, as if the residents of Burnt River were universally fond of puns; nobody ever told him different.

“You don’t think they’re getting too close to porno?” Lil now asked, under her breath to Lynn, as they watched Amnon Plain push their daughter around the set. “I don’t want any goddamned porno.” Lil had a thing about porno.

“You know they’re not going to do any porno,” Lynn said placatingly. He was wearing black-on-black, with wraparound Blades.

“They better not. That’ll kill you in a minute.” She refocused. “Look at Jax. I think he’s so good for her.”

Jax—he had no last name—was peering around the set through the viewfinder of a Nikon F5. He thought of himself as a photographer, although he hadn’t yet taken many photographs. But how hard could it be? You look through the hole, you push the button. When Alie’e said, “You got anything?” Jax let the camera drop to his side, tipped his head, and they moved together against the hull of the barge. Jax took a plastic nose-drop bottle from his pocket and passed it to her. Alie’e unscrewed the top, slipped the end into a nostril, and squeezed the bottle once, twice. “Whoa, whoa,” Jax muttered. “Not too much, it’ll kill the eyes.” If you had eyes as green and large as Alie’e’s, you didn’t want them dilated.

Amnon Plain was moving lights around as his assistants refilled the camera backs with Kodachrome. Alie’e would be wearing a torn pale-blue T-shirt that was meant to show just a hint of rouged nipple within the tear, and the film had to hold the subtlety of the pink-against-blue. With the Kodachrome, the flare of the torch behind her wouldn’t pop as it would on the Fuji, but that wasn’t so important in this shot.

Plain was juggling the color equities in his mind when Alie’e said, past his head, “Hello, Jael.”

Plain turned. His sister was standing in the gash in the barge’s hull, just inside the line of lights. “What do you want?” he snapped.

Jael Corbeau—she’d changed her name with her mother, after their parents split up—was light where Plain was dark, blond against Plain’s deep brunette. Despite their coloring differences, they had faces that were astonishingly alike, wedge-shaped, edgy, big-eyed.

Jael had once been a model herself; didn’t need the money, found the life boring, and moved on. Although the two of them looked alike, there was a singular difference in their faces. Three long pale lines slashed across Jael’s face: scars. She was a lovely woman to begin with, but the scars made her something else. Striking. Beautiful. Erotic. Exotic. Something.

“I came to see Alie’e,” she said sullenly.

“See her someplace else,” Plain said. “We’re trying to work here.”

“Don’t give me a hard time, Plain.”

“Get the fuck off my shoot,” Plain said, walking toward her. All other talk stopped, and Clark, the welder, stood up, uncertainly, and pushed his mask back. Plain’s voice vibrated with violence.

From behind him, Alie’e said, “There’s a party at Silly’s tonight, nine o’clock.”

Jael had taken a step back, away from her brother. There was no fear in her, but she didn’t doubt that Plain would physically throw her off the barge. He was bigger. “Silly’s at nine,” she said, and left.

-

Plain watched her go, watched until she was out of sight, turned back to Alie’e, took a breath, saw Clark hovering in the background like a sumo wrestler. He turned to the couture rep and said, “I’ve got your key shot.”

The couture rep was a thin-faced German named Dieter Kopp. He had a stubble-cut skull, two-day beard, and gaunt, pale face; his cheeks were lightly pitted, as though he might once have suffered from smallpox. He was the only one not wearing jeans. Instead, he wore a pale gray Italian suit with an open-necked black dress shirt, and a gold tennis bracelet.

Kopp didn’t want to be in St. Paul, didn’t want to be in America. He wanted to be in Vienna, or Berlin, but he was condemned to this: to sell seventy-dollar male-look underpants, complete with front vent, to American women.

Like a good German, he would do what was necessary to carry out his orders; but at the moment, he was still vibrating with the possibility of violence against the striking blonde who’d just walked off the barge. He knew her face. She’d been a model, he knew that, but she’d been out of it for a few years. She looked better now; she was stunning, he thought. . . .

“What?” he asked. He’d missed what Plain said to him.

“I’ve got your key shot. We move Clark around back and we put Alie’e dead center—Alie’e, come over here.” Alie’e walked toward them, along the plank, as Plain continued: “We light them separately and then jam them together with the long lens. Clark will look like the fuckin’ moon coming over the horizon, and Alie’e will be there in the foreground.”

“We still need the nipple for the punch,” said the German. “We could lose it with a long lens.”

“Gotta lose it anyway for the Americans,” said the creative director, a man with a red beard and a bald, freckled head.

“We can do it both ways,” Plain said. “For the Europeans, we’ll hold it. We’ll stick a snoot over on the left and light it. Alie’e . . .” Alie’e stepped closer, and Plain slipped his fingers into the torn slit in the T-shirt and pulled it wider, to expose her nipple. “We’ll have to tape this back, we’ll have to bring it out a little more. Maybe touch it with a little more makeup.”

“Not too much. She’s really pale, and too much would look artificial,” the art director said nervously.

“Artificial would be all right,” Plain said. “What could be sexier than rouged nipples?”

“In Germany, yes, I think,” Kopp said. “In America . . .”

“Sexy in America, too, but it’d be too much for the mainline magazines,” Plain said. “For the American shot, we’ll ice her nipple to bring it up, so you can see it through the T-shirt, put a little shading on the side to emphasize it, but we re-layer the rip so there’s more coverage, and drop the snoot. But you’ll still be able to feel it there—there’ll be like a mental tit behind the T-shirt.”

“You’re gonna ice me?” Alie’e asked. “You’re gonna fucking ice me? It’s twelve degrees in here.”

-

The German had closed his eyes. After a moment, he nodded. Plain had worked for eight years in Miami, where he’d developed a reputation for a decadent, sexually charged fashion art, juxtaposing outlandishly disparate characters in variations of the Beauty and the Beast theme. Anyone could do that, and many tried, but Plain had something different, something that nobody else could quite get. Something straight out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Like this shot.

The German could see it in his mind’s eye, now that all the characters were assembled in this ridiculous hulk, with the lights, the smell of the welder, the roaring propane heater . . . but never could have thought of it. This was why he traveled to Minneapolis and paid Plain as much as he did.

Plain had vision.

-

They worked the rest of the morning: hard work, done over and over. Plain had a color card in his brain, and a drama chip. He knew what he was getting, and he pushed it. Shredded the T-shirt, exposed one breast completely. Clark watched from the background, a burning torch in his hand, his cement-block sausage lover’s face fixed by the vision of the woman’s body. Lynn and Lil watched from behind the lights: “You don’t think that’s getting toward the porno . . .? ”

When they were done, and while Jax was collecting her dressing bags, one of Plain’s assistants walked Alie’e back to a rented Lincoln Towncar. She recovered her purse and the stash of cocaine, caught a little dust under a fingernail, and inhaled.

“What do you think of that Clark guy?” the assistant asked.

Alie’e, whose eyes had been closed, the better to experience the rush, now opened one eye, cocked her head, and thought about it: “He’s not bad, for a pickup.”

“What I meant was, he looked like he had a zucchini stuffed in his pants during that last sequence.”

Alie’e smiled her wan, coked-up smile and said, “Then it must have been a good sequence.”

-

Dieter Kopp had seen it; so had Plain.

“I was afraid I’d lose it.” Plain laughed, brushing the hair back from his eyes. “I was over there waggling that snoot around, trying to get some light on him, hoping it wouldn’t go away, hoping he wouldn’t figure out what I was doing.”

“Not for the American magazines, I don’t think?” Kopp said. But it was a question.

“Oh, I think so,” Plain said. “You couldn’t say anything about it. You couldn’t make it too obvious. But a little work on the computer, taking it up or down. We’ll get it in. And people will notice. . . .”

Kopp bobbed his head, flashed his thin, hard grin. At another time, he might’ve been driving a tank into Russia instead of selling underwear. But that was then, and this was now. He was in underwear.

-

They all went to the party that night, at Silly Hanson’s home: Alie’e, Jax, Plain, Kopp, Corbeau, the photo assistants, Alie’e’s parents, even Clark the welder. Alie’e looked spectacular. She wore the green dress from the photo shoot, and hung with Jael Corbeau and Catherine Kinsley, the heiress, the three women like the three fates in the Renaissance paintings, all tangled together.

Techno-pop rolled from small black speakers spotted around Silly Hanson’s public rooms and Alie’e images flashed across movie-aspect flat-screen monitors. The crowd danced and sweated and drank martinis and Rob Roys and came and went.

Silly herself got drunk and physical with Dieter Kopp, who left thumb bruises on her breasts and ass. A gambler drifted through the crowd, and met a cop who was astonished to see him.

And the killer was there. In the corner, watching.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 83 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(24)

4 Star

(30)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(9)

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(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 83 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2008

    The worst book I have read in years

    I am a huge fan of Sandford and the prey series but this book was a disaster from page 1 until the end. I could not believe the same guy had written the previous novels. I never look at reviews before I buy a book, if its someone I read normally I am pretty amped to get started but boy, I sure wish I would have read here first. If you buy this book you will be wasting money -- save it for a gallon or two of gas. I have no idea what happened in this book but its the most boring thing I have read in many many years. He changed his whole writing style it seems for this book and boy did it show. Not only was I bored but Lucas himself is getting bored, the poor guy. I hope that the next book will be like the others - great. I give it a two because it had a pretty cover but once you open the cover a two stretching it. Avoid it unless you an insomniac who has run out of medication.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2012

    BORING

    I just got the free sample of the book to test it out when i finished the sample i didn't even want to buy the book and i read books within 2days it took me aweek just to get through the sample the book was so BORING

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2003

    What a dissapointment!

    What a dissapointment! When I bought the book I could hardly wait to read it and then... God! I kept turning the pages hoping it would get better but no way. But I haven't lost faith in Sanford...It's just his worst outing.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2011

    Another good read

    I was surprised by the negative reviews on this one...I have been making my way through the Prey series over the last four months and have now read 1-14. I found Easy Prey to be right in there with the less...certainly no worse, no better than the rest. For those who like this series, DO check this one out. Sandford knows how to make a character you care about and follow him through the case.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Disappointment

    I love the Prey series (at least the first ten books), but this one was severely lacking. Sandford just seemed to slap too much onto the pages - too many characters, too many subplots, too many themes.....and too little action! This was a blip I'm sure - I'm on to #12 in the series after typing this review!! This is one you can skip.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2005

    'Easy Prey' and hopefully an easy 'A'.

    Easy Prey was the first novel that I have read of John Sandford and I wouldn¿t have had it not been for the Minnesota author report due in my Critical Reading class at Lake Superior College in Duluth. I found that because it was the first `Prey¿ novel I had read and it was in the middle of a series, it was a little hard to follow who some of the characters were. I also thought it was kind of slow up until about the tenth chapter, but once Sandford picked up the pace, I couldn¿t put it down. I really liked that Sandford¿s character of Lucas Davenport is this straightforward kind of cop who will do anything to get his job done and cases solved. I love Sandford¿s description of the crime scenes and how it brings all the senses of the reader to life. There were lots of twists that made it difficult to figure out the killer until the end of the book. All things considered, I really enjoyed the book and I¿d definitely read another of Sandford¿s Prey Novels.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2004

    Zach C. an avid 'Prey' novel reader

    This was the first prey book I read and it impressed me so as to that I wanted to read more of them. now that I have read sudden prey and have started eyes of prey I realize that it is not his best works. But I encourage you to not give up on sandford if this is the only book you've read. They only get better.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2001

    What a tedious read this was

    If it were not for the $7.99 I had invested in this book i would never have finished it. I could only read a few pages at a time and had to put it down due to boredom. It certainly was not a page turner nor something i looked foreward to diving into at night after work.It was tedious and far fetched. By the end i really did not care on little bit 'who done it'!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2001

    Not the usual Sandford

    Found this to be very hard to follow. Too many characters to keep up with. Am still plundering thru but am determined to finish it. Have read nearly all of his past novels, but this one is lacking the ? Can't quite put my finger on it, but it is not his usual good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2001

    I liked it

    This was the first PREY novel that I have read and I really liked it. I found it a little hard to follow who some of the characters were at times, but that only made me want to read his other works so I will be more familiar with them next time. The plot was great with a twist at the end. I am now half way through Certain Prey and I am enjoying this one too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent hard-boiled Davenport tale

    Successful Supermodel Alie¿e Maison never had a normal childhood since her avaricious parents parleyed her beautiful looks into making them a fortune. She is now one of the richest models in the country and now Alie¿e only works those fashion jobs she wants as she seeks pleasure and excitement in her life. At a Minneapolis party hosted by Sally Hanson, Alie¿e enjoys the drugs and sex that flow so freely. <P>That ends when Alie¿e is found strangled to death in a guestroom and nearby another victim is killed by a blow to the head. Minneapolis Deputy of Police Lucas Davenport heads the investigation that has media and political attention due to Alie¿e being the victim. For a cop this case becomes a living nightmare due to the media¿s sensationalizing what happened at the party. However, the case turns uglier when Alie¿e¿s parents, her female lover, and her former boyfriend are killed. Lucas has numerous suspects, but the investigation twists again when one of his own crew is almost killed by the clever perpetrator. <P>The Davenport books are all hard hitting, hard-boiled, and hard edged police procedurals that turn up the adrenaline pump to extraordinary levels for the reader. EASY PREY starts off in the stratosphere and never comes down even at its climax. The charcaters are fully developed and the subplots that tie back to the fast-paced story line bring them to life even as it adds fuel to the speed of the novel. Lucas remains a complex but enigmatic protagonist and fans of the sub-genre will enjoy his exploits tremendously. John Sandford is worth the price of hard cover as he proves that reading is still a pleasant experience even with the coming of Play Station 2. <P>Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS AND ALL SANFORD'S "PREY STORIES"

    Lucas Davenport, (head cop in all the Prey Books, is as good as
    Alex Cross is for James Paterson.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2002

    Easy Prey left me high and dry

    In my opinion, Easy Prey left me waiting for a climax that did not occur. The final resolution was a cop-out and left me with the feeling that the book was purely superficial, meaning that there were no hidden depths- nothing to think about or explore.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2001

    Not quite the same Sandford

    This latest novel 'Easy Prey' was enjoyable to read, but it seemed to be lacking something. Should one be drawn to the same formula and style therefore expect it story after story? After reading so many Prey novels its easy to notice that this one definitely had a different feel to it. I enjoyed the book, but missed Sandford's usual style of letting us, the readers, get into the mind of the killer. This change in style took a little of the psychotic edge off the book that I usually enjoy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2001

    Are you sure John Sanford wrote this novel?

    Hard to believe this is one of Sanford's Prey novels. Not near as good as any of the others. I was very disappointed. Hopefully, a new prey fan will not read this first, as he/she probably would not read another.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2001

    My first Prey book, and not what I hoped for.

    Lucas Davenport is an interesting character and the story line was pretty good, but I can't help feeling that the something was missing. It was almost like I walked in during the middle of a movie and had missed something important. I attribute that to the fact that this was my first Sandford book, but a LITTLE background on the characters would have helped. Maybe this book would have seemed better if I had read some of his others first. Maybe.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2000

    Too much 'Easy', not enough 'Prey'

    Lucas Davenport used to be one of the more riveting central characters. He was always just on the ragged edge of violence. This internal struggle to maintain tenuous control of his violence and appetite for attractive women was the driving force behind the Davenport mystique. That's all gone in 'Easy Prey'. He's still attracted to beautiful women, but the edge-of-control leashed violence is gone. Lucas gets handed a powderkeg of a murder case, involving a promiscuous bisexual world-class model and drugs. The suspects are all wealthy, decadent art-scene types who have few- if any- redeeming qualities. Unlike most of the 'Prey' stories- where the killer is usually a true human monster- the monsters in 'Easy Prey' are the victims and the suspects (which are mostly the same people, as the story progresses). The novel winds on through a tangled web of drugs, deceit, lies, and more murders. The police are always steadily closing in on their killer, who always turns out to be the next victim. The ongoing sexual intrigue between Davenport and his host of female admirers brings a relieving bit of normal humanity into the narrative. The discovery of the killer's identity and what is intended to be the thrilling finale comes across as a hasty finish, as though Sandford lost track of where his story was going and abruptly realized he had to find an ending. I enjoyed all of the other 'Prey' novels, and look forward to the next one, but 'Easy Prey' seemed to focus a bit too much on the 'Easy' and not enough on the 'Prey'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2000

    Good Read

    Although this Prey was a little different than the rest I thought it was a good read. It did get a little commplicated at times but you gotta love Lucas Davenport!! Look forward to the next 'Prey'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2000

    What happened?

    I have enjoyed all of John Sandford's previous Lucas Davenport novels but as I read 'Easy Prey,' I repeatedly wondered, 'Did John Sandford really write this? What happened to the superb skills that kept a reader on edge through an entire mystery?' My main disappointment was that Sandford lost touch with the Davenport character that had remained consistent from novel to novel in previous 'Prey' books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2000

    Disappointing - Lucas is bored and so am I

    Usually I look forward to a new release by Sanford, but this time I was disappointed. Lucas seemed bored to be in this novel and I was bored reading it. Next time (and I hope there will be a next time), Sanford should really want to write the book, not just because his publisher wants it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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