Invisible Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #17)

Invisible Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #17)

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by John Sandford
     
 

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Lucas Davenport returns in one of the most startling Prey novels yet from the number-one-bestselling author.

Overview

Lucas Davenport returns in one of the most startling Prey novels yet from the number-one-bestselling author.

Editorial Reviews

Lucas Davenport had reason to be relieved when he was called off a morals case -- involving a Minnesota state senator accused of having sex with a minor -- and assigned to a double murder. For one thing, the killing of affluent widow Constance Bucher and her maid isn't politically sensitive; for another, it seems like a prosecutorial slam-dunk. The messy crime scene looks like the calling card of drug-addled thieves who, like many others before them, blundered into a situation they couldn't control. Looking closer, though, Davenport detects the scent of more sophisticated plunderers. And then the other murders begin….
Library Journal

The 17th installment in Sandford's Prey series, this novel finds Lucas Davenport promoted to special agent for Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He investigates two cases-the brutal murders of an elderly heiress and her maid in an elegant St. Paul neighborhood and the sordid affair between Minnesota state senator Burt Kline and a minor. Lucas's home life with his wife, Weather, and their young son and his relationships with his boss, Marie, and police officers Jenkins and Shrake provide an ongoing backdrop to the investigations. The world of antiques and art is also detailed as the tale's body count increases, but Lucas looks for clues and steadily makes his way toward resolution. There is quite a bit of offensive language here, which may cause discomfort for some listeners. Richard Ferrone's intense, clear voice and breathless pacing create a powerful atmosphere. This thriller is well crafted, with a touch of humor, well-developed characters, and plenty of plot twists. Recommended.
—Denise A. Garofalo

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786294404
Publisher:
Gale Group
Publication date:
05/15/2007
Series:
Lucas Davenport Series , #17
Edition description:
Large Print
Pages:
583
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

1

AN ANONYMOUS VAN, some-kind-of-pale, cruised Summit Avenue, windows dark with the coming night. The killers inside watched three teenagers, two boys and a girl, hurrying along the sidewalk like windblown leaves. The kids were getting somewhere quick, finding shelter before the storm.

The killers trailed them, saw them off, then turned their faces toward Oak Walk.

The mansion was an architectural remnant of the nineteenth century, red brick with green trim, gloomy and looming in the dying light. Along the wrought-iron fence, well-tended beds of blue and yellow iris, and clumps of pink peonies, were going gray to the eye.

Oak Walk was perched on a bluff. The back of the house looked across the lights of St. Paul, down into the valley of the Mississippi, where the groove of the river had already gone dark. The front faced Summit Avenue; Oak Walk was the second-richest house on the richest street in town.

Six aging burr oaks covered the side yard. In sunlight, their canopies created a leafy glade, with sundials and flagstone walks, charming with moss and violets; but moon shadows gave the yard a menacing aura, now heightened by the lightning that flickered through the incoming clouds.

“Like the Munsters should live there,” the bigger of the killers said.

“Like a graveyard,” the little one agreed.

The Weather Channel had warned of tornadic events, and the killers could feel a twister in the oppressive heat, the smell of ozone thick in the air.

The summer was just getting started. The last snow slipped into town on May 2, and was gone a day later. The rest of the month had been sunny and warm, and by the end of it, even the ubiquitous paper-pale blondes were showing tan lines.

Now the first of the big summer winds. Refreshing, if it didn’t knock your house down.

ON THE FOURTH PASS, the van turned into the driveway, eased up under the portico, and the killers waited there for a porch light. No light came on. That was good.

They got out of the van, one Big, one Little, stood there for a moment, listening, obscure in the shadows, facing the huge front doors. They were wearing coveralls, of the kind worn by automotive mechanics, and hairnets, and nylon stockings over their faces. Behind them, the van’s engine ticked as it cooled. A Wisconsin license plate, stolen from a similar vehicle in a 3M parking lot, was stuck on the back of the van.

Big said, “Let’s do it.”

Little led the way up the porch steps. After a last quick look around, Big nodded again, and Little pushed the doorbell.

They’d done this before. They were good at it.

THEY COULD FEEL the footsteps on the wooden floors inside the house. “Ready,” said Big.

A moment later, one of the doors opened. A shaft of light cracked across the porch, flashing on Little’s burgundy jacket. Little said a few words—“Miz Peebles? Is this where the party is?”

A slender black woman, sixtyish, Peebles said, “Why no . . .” Her jaw continued to work wordlessly, searching for a scream, as she took in the distorted faces.

Little was looking past her at an empty hallway. The groundskeeper and the cook were home, snug in bed. This polite inquiry at the door was a last-minute check to make sure that there were no unexpected guests. Seeing no one, Little stepped back and snapped, “Go.”

Big went through the door, fast, one arm flashing in the interior light. Big was carrying a two-foot-long steel gas pipe, with gaffer tape wrapped around the handle-end. Peebles didn’t scream, because she didn’t have time. Her eyes widened, her mouth dropped open, one hand started up, and then Big hit her on the crown of her head, crushing her skull.

The old woman dropped like a sack of bones. Big hit her again, as insurance, and then a third time, as insurance on the insurance: three heavy floor-shaking impacts, whack! whack! whack!

THEN A VOICE from up the stairs, tentative, shaky. “Sugar? Who was it, Sugar?”

Big’s head turned toward the stairs and Little could hear him breathing. Big slipped out of his loafers and hurried up the stairs in his stocking feet, a man on the hunt. Little stepped up the hall, grabbed a corner of a seven-foot-long Persian carpet and dragged it back to the black woman’s body.

And from upstairs, three more impacts: a gasping, thready scream, and whack! whack! whack!

Little smiled. Murder—and the insurance.

Little stooped, caught the sleeve of Peebles’s housecoat, and rolled her onto the carpet. Breathing a little harder, Little began dragging the carpet toward an interior hallway that ran down to the kitchen, where it’d be out of sight of any of the windows. A pencil-thin line of blood, like a slug’s trail, tracked the rug across the hardwood floor.

Peebles’s face had gone slack. Her eyes were still open, the eyeballs rolled up, white against her black face. Too bad about the rug, Little thought. Chinese, the original dark blue gone pale, maybe 1890. Not a great rug, but a good one. Of course, it’d need a good cleaning now, with the blood-puddle under Peebles’s head.

OUTSIDE, there’d been no sound of murder. No screams or gunshots audible on the street. A window lit up on Oak Walk’s second floor. Then another on the third floor, and yet another, on the first floor, in the back, in the butler’s pantry: Big and Little, checking out the house, making sure that they were the only living creatures inside.

WHEN THEY KNEW that the house was clear, Big and Little met at the bottom of the staircase. Big’s mouth under the nylon was a bloody O. He’d chewed into his bottom lip while killing the old woman upstairs, something he did when the frenzy was on him. He was carrying a jewelry box and one hand was closed in a fist.

“You won’t believe this,” he said. “She had it around her neck.” He opened his fist—his hands were covered with latex kitchen gloves—to show off a diamond the size of a quail’s egg.

“Is it real?”

“It’s real and it’s blue. We’re not talking Boxsters anymore. We’re talking SLs.” Big opened the box. “There’s more: earrings, a necklace. There could be a half million, right here.”

“Can Fleckstein handle it?”

Big snorted. “Fleckstein’s so dirty that he wouldn’t recognize the Mona Lisa. He’ll handle it.”

He pushed the jewelry at Little, started to turn, caught sight of Peebles lying on the rug. “Bitch,” he said, the word grating through his teeth. “Bitch.” In a second, in three long steps, he was on her again, beating the dead woman with the pipe, heavy impacts shaking the floor. Little went after him, catching him after the first three impacts, pulling him away, voice hard, “She’s gone, for Christ’s sakes, she’s gone, she’s gone . . .”

“Fucker,” Big said. “Piece of shit.”

Little thought, sometimes, that Big should have a bolt through his neck.

Big stopped, and straightened, looked down at Peebles, muttered, “She’s gone.” He shuddered, and said, “Gone.” Then he turned to Little, blood in his eye, hefting the pipe.

Little’s hands came up: “No, no—it’s me. It’s me. For God’s sake.”

Big shuddered again. “Yeah, yeah. I know. It’s you.”

Little took a step back, still uncertain, and said, “Let’s get to work. Are you okay? Let’s get to work.”

Twenty minutes after they went in, the front door opened again. Big came out, looked both ways, climbed into the van, and eased it around the corner of the house and down the side to the deliveries entrance. Because of the pitch of the slope at the back of the house, the van was no longer visible from the street.

The last light was gone, the night now as dark as a coal sack, the lightning flashes closer, the wind coming like a cold open palm, pushing against Big’s face as he got out of the van. A raindrop, fat and round as a marble, hit the toe of his shoe. Then another, then more, cold, going pat-pat . . . pat . . . pat-pat-pat on the blacktop and concrete and brick.

He hustled up to the back door; Little opened it from the inside.

“Another surprise,” Little said, holding up a painting, turning it over in the thin light. Big squinted at it, then looked at Little: “We agreed we wouldn’t take anything off the walls.”

“Wasn’t on the walls,” Little said. “It was stuffed away in the storage room. It’s not on the insurance list.”

“Amazing. Maybe we ought to quit now, while we’re ahead.”

“No.” Little’s voice was husky with greed. “This time . . . this time, we can cash out. We’ll never have to do this again.”

“I don’t mind,” Big said.

“You don’t mind the killing, but how about thirty years in a cage? Think you’d mind that?”

Big seemed to ponder that for a moment, then said, “All right.”

Little nodded. “Think about the SLs. Chocolate for you, silver for me. Apartments: New York and Los Angeles. Something right on the Park, in New York. Something where you can lean out the window, and see the Met.”

“We could buy . . .” Big thought about it for a few more seconds. “Maybe . . . a Picasso?”

“A Picasso . . .” Little thought about it, nodded. “But first—I’m going back upstairs. And you . . .”

Big grinned under the mask. “I trash the place. God, I love this job.”

OUTSIDE, across the back lawn, down the bluff, over the top of the United Hospital buildings and Seventh Street and the houses below, down three-quarters of a mile away, a towboat pushed a line of barges toward the moorings at Pig’s Eye. Not hurrying. Tows never hurried. All around, the lights of St. Paul sparkled like diamonds, on the first line of bluffs, on the second line below the cathedral, on the bridges fore and aft, on the High Bridge coming up.

The pilot in the wheelhouse was looking up the hill at the lights of Oak Walk, Dove Hill, and the Hill House, happened to be looking when the lights dimmed, all at once.

The rain-front had topped the bluff and was coming down on the river.

Hard rain coming, the pilot thought. Hard rain.

Meet the Author

John Sandford is the pseudonym of Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist John Camp. He is the author of the Prey novels, the Kidd novels, the Virgil Flowers novels, The Night Crew, and Dead Watch. He lives in New Mexico.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
St. Paul, Minnesota
Date of Birth:
February 23, 1944
Place of Birth:
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Education:
State University of Iowa, Iowa City: B.A., American History; M.A., Journalism
Website:
http://www.johnsandford.org

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Invisible Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #17) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 93 reviews.
XXXOOOBookwormOOOXXX More than 1 year ago
This story begins with two elderly ladies; a rich one and her maid who are beaten to death in a rather efficient and brutal manner. Upon investigation it is found that while some antiques and valuables are missing, there is certainly nothing valuable enough to in anyway justify the death of these two people. Or are there valuable items missing that simply have not been identified? As the body count increases past unsolved murders are slowly linked to these recent killings and Davenport finds himself involved in a very complicated and perplexing series of crimes which not only involve murder but the antique and art business. As always Sandford is able to tie the various seemingly unrelated cases together in rather unique ways. One of the things that I like about the Prey series is that Sandford has allowed his primary protagonist, Lucas Davenport to evolve and by that I mean he has allowed him to age and mature. As these novels progress (and `Invisible Prey' is a prime example of this) we find Lucas aging, maybe not so much mentally, but most certainly physically. This is only natural and I like it because I am aging myself and am certainly not the person I was ten, twenty, thirty or forty years ago. As always, Sandford has provided us with some despicable villains which must be dealt with. I note that the characters are not as insane or psychopathic as some of his earlier bad guys but this not make them any less evil. The story is well written as you would expect from a master story teller of the caliber of Sandford and the plost gives us many twists and turns which keep the pages turning. In this particular work very little is written about Lucas's wife which is probably best because in most of the recent novels about all she does is sleep anyway so her absence in this work is more of a blessing than anything. I highly recommend this book as the series has attested so long to it's preceding reputation. 
harstan More than 1 year ago
Minneapolis Police Detective Lucas Davenport leads a very sensitive investigation into the activities of Minnesota State Senator Burt Kline allegedly having sex with a minor. The consummate professional cop, Lucas is extremely careful with his handling of the official inquiry because he knows what a mess a media feeding frenzy would be with a politician-Lolita tryst. --- As he prepares to arrest Mr. Kline for sex with a fifteen year old, Lucas also is assigned the murders of wealthy widow Constance Bucher and her maid Sugar Rayette-Peeples in the former¿s mansion. Both were battered to death and the house ransacked. The first thought is a robbery turned ugly, as the affluent home is filled with valuable antiques. However, Lucas realizes that he has no idea whether anything was stolen so perhaps the murders were personal especially with the skulls smashed. As he continues his inquires, he soon finds a strange connection to the sleazy senator scenario, but identifying the killers still remains difficult and convoluted. ---- Though number seventeen in this long running police procedural, INVISIBLE PREY is a fantastic tale in which the two cases are appealing because of the strong key players ranging from victims, suspects, witnesses, ¿vultures¿ and participants, etc. Readers will appreciate Lucas¿ investigations as John Sandford provides his hero with not the usual suspects in what will prove to be a one sitting thriller. ---- Harriet Klausner
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johnwillie More than 1 year ago
A very good book and easy to read
RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
I love “That Flippin’ Flowers.” He may not be the main show or even a Romeo, but he’s one hilarious bastard. He may need to spend a bit more time at the range, and there’s the distinct possibility he’s more interested in writing and fly fishing than he is detective work, but that just makes him memorable and interesting. The usual suspects populate INVISIBLE PREY, so if you’re familiar with Lucas Davenport and Weather and Kidd, you’ll feel right at home. But if this is your first rodeo, then I should probably ask you “Where the hell have you been for the past 25 years?” By my calculations there are 24 Davenport novels and 8 Flowers novels, plus you have the Kidd novels, and yeah, I’m probably missing a few along with some screws. The pace jerked me more than a socket wrench; the bodies stacked up faster than a New York City morgue; there were antiques and robberies and a few dichotomies; and smack dab in the middle stood Lucas Davenport in all of his infinite glory. Was it the best Prey novel I’ve ever read? It’s really hard to say, because I’ve read them in spurts and squirts, but it’s a damn good read if you’re into that sort of thing. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
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One of the best of the Prey series.
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Will keep you womdering from page one what are they up to now.
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This was an interesting read, but not page-turner suspense for me. I felt that I was being educated about art history & the business of art more than entertained or swept along w/the unfolding story ... & the end-game plot twist was so much more predictable than most J.S. efforts. I liked it, but I was ready for it to be over so I could move on in the series.
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JTLewis More than 1 year ago
John Sanford's 'Invisible Prey' is the 17th installment of his Lucas Davenport series.17th! Wow, I can't imagine, I'm only on my second book of my 1st series. Wow! Anyway, you can't write 17 books about the same character without doing something right. Mr. Sanford has again shown that he has the skills to get this accomplished. The synopsis of the story: In the richest neighborhood of Minneapolis, two elderly women lie murdered in their home, killed with a pipe, the rooms tossed, only small items stolen. It is clearly the random work of someone looking for money to buy drugs. But as Davenport looks more closely, he begins to wonder whether the items are actually so small and the victims so random-if there might not be some invisible agenda at work here. Gradually, a pattern begins to emerge, and it leads him to . . . certainly nothing he ever expected. Which is too bad, because the killers-and, yes, there is more than one of them-the killers are expecting him. Brilliantly suspenseful, filled with rich characterization and exciting drama, Invisible Prey is further proof that Sanford is in a class of his own As far as I can remember, this is my first reading in the Lucas Davenport series, but it will not be the last. The story of the series of murders that now plague the Twin Cities is well thought out and complete. The characters are believable, with what I think are just the right amount of deviant personality traits within Davenport's own investigators to make it personable and enjoyable. I of course wish I had started earlier in the series. Even though the main characters were introduced to the reader when they appeared, I would get lost with some of them as I read through, a common problem when one starts in the middle or the end of a series. There are parts of every investigation, both fictional as well as real, that I like to call 'The Long Boring Parts Between the Action' when I am writing. These are the parts of an investigation when the investigator is reading through files or making notes while trying to find a hidden clue or a thread between different crimes. In Invisible Prey, these scenes were laid out efficiently and interestingly, and were not the "anchor around the neck" that some readers find them in other books. To me, this is a very good indication to me of successful writing in this genre, and not an easy piece of writing to pull off, believe me. The action of the crimes and the subsequent investigation were well laid out, easily keeping your interest with the deviousness of the criminals and the tenacity of Lucas. Add in the sometimes almost slapstick antics and down-home outlook of the investigators and you end up with a real and thought provoking story. As a new writer in this genre, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone who loves crime/mystery novels. JT Lewis