Rules of Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #1)

( 264 )

Overview

The haunting, unforgettable, ice-blooded thriller that introduced Lucas Davenport is so chilling that you're almost afraid to turn the pages and so mesmerizing you cannot stop.

Louis "Maddog" Vullion is a young attorney . . . and a murderer. He kills for the sheer contest, playing an elaborate game for which he has written terrifying rules. Police Lt. Lucas Davenport, a brilliant games inventor, is going to have to outmaneuver the killer's clever plan--to beat the ...

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Rules of Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #1)

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Overview

The haunting, unforgettable, ice-blooded thriller that introduced Lucas Davenport is so chilling that you're almost afraid to turn the pages and so mesmerizing you cannot stop.

Louis "Maddog" Vullion is a young attorney . . . and a murderer. He kills for the sheer contest, playing an elaborate game for which he has written terrifying rules. Police Lt. Lucas Davenport, a brilliant games inventor, is going to have to outmaneuver the killer's clever plan--to beat the mad dog at his own deadly craft.

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Editorial Reviews

Stephen King
Sleek and nasty...A big scary, suspenseful read, and I loved every minute of it.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``Making his fiction debut, `Sandford,' a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist using a pseudonym his real name is John Camp, has taken a stock suspense plot--a dedicated cop pursuing an ingenious serial killer--and dressed it up into the kind of pulse-quickening, irresistibly readable thriller that many of the genre's best-known authors would be proud to call their own,'' stated PW. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Lieutenant Lucas Davenport, highly touted killer detective, invents intricate video games that he sells for cash. Called in to aid the Minneapolis team scrambling to stop a psychopathic serial woman-slayer, Lucas almost meets his match. The self-styled ``mad dog'' murderer views his rape/stabbings as a game as well, setting up obstacles for the police, carefully selecting his victims, and priding himself on clever moves. Despite his largely deja vu plot, debut novelist Sandford ( also the author of The Fools Run due from Holt in September under the name John Camp; see Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/89) delivers tense action, chilling excitement, and thrilling suspense. Fast-moving prose and romantic sidelines add a little zest, too. BOMC featured selection.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425205815
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/28/2005
  • Series: Lucas Davenport Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 35,319
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 10.86 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

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

1

A rooftop billboard cast a flickering blue light through the studio windows. The light ricocheted off glass and stainless steel: an empty crystal bud vase rimed with dust, a pencil sharpener, a microwave oven, peanut-butter jars filled with drawing pencils, paintbrushes and crayons. An ashtray full of pennies and paper clips. Jars of poster paint. Knives.

A stereo was dimly visible as a collection of rectangular silhouettes on the window ledge. A digital clock punched red electronic minutes into the silence.

The maddog waited in the dark.

He could hear himself breathe. Feel the sweat trickle from the pores of his underarms. Taste the remains of his dinner. Feel the shaven stubble at his groin. Smell the odor of the Chosen’s body.

He was never so alive as in the last moments of a long stalk. For some people, for people like his father, it must be like this every minute of every hour: life on a higher plane of existence.

The maddog watched the street. The Chosen was an artist. She had smooth olive skin and liquid brown eyes, tidy breasts and a slender waist. She lived illegally in the warehouse, bathing late at night in the communal rest room down the hall, furtively cooking microwave meals after the building manager left for the day. She slept on a narrow bed in a tiny storage room, beneath an art-deco crucifix, immersed in vapors of turpentine and linseed. She was out now, shopping for microwave dinners. The microwave crap would kill her if he didn’t, the maddog thought. He was probably doing her a favor. He smiled.

The artist would be his third kill in the Cities, the fifth of his life.

The first was a ranch girl, riding out of her back pasture toward the wooded limestone hills of East Texas. She wore jeans, a red-and-white-checked shirt, and cowboy boots. She sat high in a western saddle, riding more with her knees and her head than with the reins in her hand. She came straight into him, her single blonde braid bouncing behind.

The maddog carried a rifle, a Remington Model 700 ADL in .270 Winchester. He braced his forearm against a rotting log and took her when she was forty yards out. The single shot penetrated her breastbone and blew her off the horse.

That was a killing of a different kind. She had not been Chosen; she had asked for it. She had said, three years before the killing, in the maddog’s hearing, that he had lips like red worms. Like the twisting red worms that you found under river rocks. She said it in the hall of their high school, a cluster of friends standing around her. A few glanced over their shoulders at the maddog, who stood fifteen feet away, alone, as always, pushing his books onto the top shelf of his locker. He gave no sign that he’d overheard. He had been very good at concealment, even in his youngest days, though the ranch girl didn’t seem to care one way or another. The maddog was a social nonentity.

But she paid for her careless talk. He held her comment to his breast for three years, knowing his time would come. And it did. She went off the back of the horse, stricken stone-cold dead by a fast-expanding copper-jacketed hunting bullet.

The maddog ran lightly through the woods and across a low stretch of swampy prairie. He dumped the gun beneath a rusting iron culvert where a road crossed the marsh. The culvert would confuse any metal detector used to hunt for the weapon, although the maddog didn’t expect a search—it was deer season and the woods were full of maniacs from the cities, armed to the teeth and ready to kill. The season, the weapon cache, had all been determined far in advance. Even as a sophomore in college, the maddog was a planner.

He went to the girl’s funeral. Her face was untouched and the top half of the coffin was left open. He sat as close as he could, in his dark suit, watched her face and felt the power rising. His only regret was that she had not known that death was coming, so that she might savor the pain; and that he had not had time to enjoy its passage.

The second killing was the first of the truly Chosen, although he no longer considered it a work of maturity. It was more of . . . an experiment? Yes. In the second killing, he remedied the deficiencies of the first.

She was a hooker. He took her during the spring break of his second year, the crisis year, in law school. The need had long been there, he thought. The intellectual pressure of law school compounded it. And one cool night in Dallas, with a knife, he earned temporary respite on the pale white body of a Mississippi peckerwood girl, come to the city to find her fortune.

The ranch girl’s shooting death was lamented as a hunting accident. Her parents grieved and went on to other things. Two years later the maddog saw the girl’s mother laughing outside a concert hall.

The Dallas cops dismissed the hooker’s execution as a street killing, dope-related. They found Quaaludes in her purse, and that was good enough. All they had was a street name. They put her in a pauper’s grave with that name, the wrong name, on the tiny iron plaque that marked the place. She had never seen her sixteenth year.

The two killings had been satisfying, but not fully calculated. The killings in the Cities were different. They were meticulously planned, their tactics based on a professional review of a dozen murder investigations.

The maddog was intelligent. He was a member of the bar. He derived rules.

Never kill anyone you know.

Never have a motive.

Never follow a discernible pattern.

Never carry a weapon after it has been used.

Isolate yourself from random discovery.

Beware of leaving physical evidence.

There were more. He built them into a challenge.

He was mad, of course. And he knew it.

In the best of worlds, he would prefer to be sane. Insanity brought with it a large measure of stress. He had pills now, black ones for high blood pressure, reddish-brown ones to help him sleep. He would prefer to be sane, but you played the hand you were dealt. His father said so. The mark of a man.

So he was mad.

But not quite the way the police thought.

He bound and gagged the women and raped them.

The police considered him a sex freak. A cold freak. He took his time about the killings and the rapes. They believed he talked to his victims, taunted them. He carefully used prophylactics. Lubricated prophylactics. Postmortem vaginal smears on the first two Cities victims produced evidence of the lubricant. Since the cops never found the rubbers, they assumed he took them with him.

Consulting psychiatrists, hired to construct a psychological profile, believed the maddog feared women. Possibly the result of a youthful life with a dominant mother, they said, a mother alternately tyrannical and loving, with sexual overtones. Possibly the maddog was afraid of AIDS, and possibly—they talked of endless possibilities—he was essentially homosexual.

Possibly, they said, he might do something with the semen he saved in the prophylactics. When the shrinks said that, the cops looked at each other. Do something? Do what? Make Sno-Cones? What?

The psychiatrists were wrong. About all of it.

He did not taunt his victims, he comforted them; helped them to participate. He didn’t use the rubbers primarily to protect himself from disease, but to protect himself from the police. Semen is evidence, carefully collected, examined, and typed by medical investigators. The maddog knew of a case where a woman was attacked, raped, and killed by one of two panhandlers. Each man accused the other. A sementyping was pivotal in isolating the killer.

The maddog didn’t save the rubbers. He didn’t do something with them. He flushed them, with their evidentiary load, down his victims’ toilets.

Nor was his mother a tyrant.

She had been a small unhappy dark-haired woman who wore calico dresses and wide-brimmed straw hats in the summertime. She died when he was in junior high school. He could barely remember her face, though once, when he was idly going through family boxes, he came across a stack of letters addressed to his father and tied with a ribbon. Without knowing quite why, he sniffed the envelopes and was overwhelmed by the faint, lingering scent of her, a scent like old wild-rose petals and the memories of Easter lilacs.

But she was nothing.

She never contributed. Won nothing. Did nothing. She was a drag on his father. His father and his fascinating games, and she was a drag on them. He remembered his father shouting at her once, I’m working, I’m working, and you will stay out of this room when I am working, I have to concentrate and I cannot do it if you come in here and whine, whine . . . The fascinating games played in courts and jailhouses.

The maddog was not homosexual. He was attracted only to women. It was the only thing that a man could do, the thing with women. He lusted for them, seeing their death and feeling himself explode as one transcendent moment.

In moments of introspection, the maddog had rooted through his psyche, seeking the genesis of his insanity. He decided that it had not come all at once, but had grown. He remembered those lonely weeks of isolation on the ranch with his mother, while his father was in Dallas playing his games. The maddog would work with his .22 rifle, sniping the ground squirrels. If he hit a squirrel just right, hit it in the hindquarters, rolled it away from its hole, it would struggle and chitter and try to claw its way back to the nest, dragging itself with its front paws.

All the other ground squirrels, from adjacent holes, would stand on the hills of sand they’d excavated from their dens and watch. Then he could pick off a second one, and that would bring out more, and then a third, until an entire colony was watching a half-dozen wounded ground squirrels trying to drag themselves back to their nests.

He would wound six or seven, shooting from a prone position, then stand and walk over to the nests and finish them with his pocketknife. Sometimes he skinned them out alive, whipping off their hides while they struggled in his hands. After a while, he began stringing their ears, keeping the string in the loft of a machine shed. At the end of one summer, he had more than three hundred sets of ears.

He had the first orgasm of his young life as he lay prone on the edge of a hayfield sniping ground squirrels. The long spasm was like death itself. Afterward he unbuttoned his jeans and pulled open the front of his underwear to look at the wet semen stains and he said to himself, “Boy, that did it . . . boy, that did it.” He said it over and over, and after that, the passion came more often as he hunted over the ranch.

Suppose, he thought, that it had been different. Suppose that he’d had playmates, girls, and they had gone to play doctor out in one of the sheds. You show me yours, I’ll show you mine. . . . Would that have made all the difference? He didn’t know. By the time he was fourteen, it was too late. His mind had been turned.

A girl lived a mile down the road. She was five or six years older than he. Daughter of a real rancher. She rode by on a hayrack once, her mother towing it with a tractor, the girl wearing a sweat-soaked T-shirt that showed her nipples puckered against the dirty cloth. The maddog was fourteen and felt the stirring of a powerful desire and said aloud, “I would love her and kill her.”

He was mad.

When he was in law school he read about other men like himself, fascinated to learn that he was part of a community. He thought of it as a community, of men who understood the powerful exaltation of that moment of ejaculation and death.

But it was not just the killing. Not anymore. There was now the intellectual thrill.

The maddog had always loved games. The games his father played, the games he played alone in his room. Fantasy games, role-playing games. He was good at chess. He won the high-school chess tournament three years running, though he rarely played against others outside the tournaments.

But there were better games. Like those his father played. But even his father was a surrogate for the real player, the other man at the table, the defendant. The real players were the defendants and the cops. The maddog knew he could never be a cop. But he could still be a player.

And now, in his twenty-seventh year, he was approaching his destiny. He was playing and he was killing, and the joy of the act made his body sing with pleasure.

The ultimate game. The ultimate stakes.

He bet his life that they could not catch him. And he was winning the lives of women, like poker chips. Men always played for women; that was his theory. They were the winnings in all the best games.

Cops, of course, weren’t interested in playing. Cops were notoriously dull.

To help them grasp the concept of the game, he left a rule with each killing. Words carefully snipped from the Minneapolis newspaper, a short phrase stuck with Scotch Magic tape to notebook paper. For the first Cities kill, it was Never kill anyone you know.

That puzzled them sorely. He placed the paper on the victim’s chest, so there could be no doubt about who had left it there. As an almost jocular afterthought, he signed it: maddog.

The second one got Never have a motive. With that, they would have known they were dealing with a man of purpose.

Though they must have been sweating bullets, the cops kept the story out of the papers. The maddog yearned for the press. Yearned to watch his legal colleagues follow the course of the investigation in the daily news. To know that they were talking to him, about him, never knowing that he was the One.

It thrilled him. This third collection should do the trick. The cops couldn’t suppress the story forever. Police departments normally leaked like colanders. He was surprised they’d kept the secret this long.

This third one would get Never follow a discernible pattern. He left the sheet on a loom.

There was a contradiction here, of course. The maddog was an intellectual and he had considered it. He was careful to the point of fanaticism: he would leave no clues. Yet, he deliberately created them. The police and their psychiatrists might deduce certain things about his personality from his choice of words. From the fact that he made rules at all. From the impulse to play.

But there was no help for that.

If killing were all that mattered, he didn’t doubt that he could do it and get away with it. Dallas had demonstrated that. He could do dozens. Hundreds. Fly to Los Angeles, buy a knife at a discount store, kill a hooker, fly back home the same night. A different city every week. They would never catch him. They would never even know.

There was an attraction to the idea, but it was, ultimately, intellectually sterile. He was developing. He wanted the contest. Needed it.

The maddog shook his head in the dark and looked down from the high window. Cars hissed by on the wet street. There was a low rumble from I-94, two blocks to the north. Nobody on foot. Nobody carrying bags.

He waited, pacing along the windows, watching the street. Eight minutes, ten minutes. The intensity was growing, the pulsing, the pressure. Where was she? He needed her.

Then he saw her, crossing the street below, her dark hair bobbing in the mercury-vapor lights. She was alone, carrying a single grocery bag. When she passed out of sight directly below him, he moved to the central pillar and stood against it.

The maddog wore jeans, a black T-shirt, latex surgeon’s gloves, and a blue silk ski mask. When she was tied to the bed and he had stripped himself, the woman would find that her attacker had shaven: he was as clean of pubic hair as a five-year-old. Not because he was kinky, although it did feel . . . interesting. But he had seen a case in which lab specialists recovered a half-dozen pubic hairs from a woman’s couch and matched them with samples from the assailant. Got the samples from the assailant with a search warrant. Nice touch. Upheld on appeal.

He shivered. It was chilly. He wished he had worn a jacket. When he left his apartment, the temperature was seventy-five. It must have fallen fifteen degrees since dark. Goddamn Minnesota.

The maddog was not large or notably athletic. For a brief time in his teens he thought of himself as lean, although his father characterized him as slight. Now, he would concede to a mirror, he was puffy. Five feet ten inches tall, curly red hair, the beginnings of a double chin, a roundness to the lower belly . . . lips like red worms. . . .

The elevator was old and intended for freight. It groaned once, twice, and started up. The maddog checked his equipment: The Kotex that he would use as a gag was stuffed in his right hip pocket. The tape that he would use to bind the gag was in his left. The gun was tucked in his belt, under the T-shirt. The pistol was small but ugly: a Smith & Wesson Model 15 revolver. He’d bought it from a man who was about to die and then did. Before he died, when he offered it for sale, the dying man said his wife wanted him to keep it for protection. He asked the maddog not to mention that he had purchased it. It would be their secret.

And that was perfect. Nobody knew he had the gun. If he ever had to use it, it would be untraceable, or traceable only to a dead man.

He took the gun out and held it by his side and thought of the sequence: grab, gun in face, force on floor, slap her with the pistol, kneel on back, pull head back, stuff Kotex in mouth, tape, drag to bed, tape arms to the headboard, feet to baseboard.

Then relax and shift to the knife.

The elevator stopped and the doors opened. The maddog’s stomach tightened, a familiar sensation. Pleasant, even. Footsteps. Key in the door. His heart was pounding. Door open. Lights. Door closed. The gun was hot in his hand, the grip rough. The woman passing . . . The maddog catapulted from his hiding place.

Saw in an instant that she was alone.

Wrapped her up, the gun beside her face.

The grocery bag burst and red-and-white cans of Campbell’s soup clattered down the wooden floor like dice, beige-and-red packages of chicken nibbles and microwave lasagna crunched underfoot.

“Scream,” he said in his roughest voice, well-practiced with a tape recorder, “and I’ll kill you.”

Unexpectedly, the woman relaxed against him and the maddog involuntarily relaxed with her. An instant later, the heel of her foot smashed onto his instep. The pain was unbearable and as he opened his mouth to scream, she turned in his arms, ignoring the gun.

“Aaaiii,” she said, a low half-scream, half-cry of fear.

Time virtually stopped for them, the seconds fragmenting into minutes. The maddog watched her hand come up and thought she had a gun and felt his own gun hand traveling away from her body, the wrong way, and thought, “No.” He realized in the next crystalline fragment of time that she was not holding a gun, but a thin silver cylinder.

She hit him with a blast of Mace and the time stream lurched crazily into fast-forward. He screeched and swatted her with the Smith and lost it at the same time. He swung his other hand and, more from luck than skill, connected with the side of her jaw and she fell and rolled.

The maddog looked for the gun, half-blinded, his hands to his face, his lungs not working as they should— he had asthma, and the Mace was soaking through the ski mask—and the woman was rolling and coming up with the Mace again and now she was screaming:

“Asshole, asshole . . .”

He kicked at her and missed and she sprayed him again and he kicked again and she stumbled and was rolling and still had the Mace and he couldn’t find the gun and he kicked at her again. Lucky again, he connected with her Mace hand and the small can went flying. Blood was pouring from her forehead where it had been raked by the front sight on the pistol, streaming from the ragged cut down over her eyes and mouth, and it was on her teeth and she was screaming:

“Asshole, asshole.”

Before he could get back on the attack, she picked up a shiny stainless-steel pipe and swung it at him like a woman who’d spent time in the softball leagues. He fended her off and backed away, still looking for the gun, but it was gone and she was coming and the maddog made the kind of decision he was trained to make.

He ran.

He ran and she ran behind him and hit him once more on the back and he half-stumbled and turned and hit her along the jaw with the bottom of his fist, a weak, ineffective punch, and she bounced away and came back with the pipe, her mouth open, her teeth showing, showering him with saliva and blood as she screamed, and he made it through the door and jerked it shut behind him.

“. . . asshole . . .”

Down the hall to the stairs, almost strangling in the mask. She didn’t pursue, but stood at the closed door screaming with the most piercing wail he’d ever heard. A door opened somewhere and he continued blindly down the stairs. At the bottom he stripped off the mask and thrust it in his pocket and stepped outside.

Amble, he thought. Stroll.

It was cold. Goddamn Minnesota. It was August and he was freezing. He could hear her screaming. Faintly at first, then louder. The bitch had opened the window. The cops were just across the way. The maddog hunched his shoulders and walked a little more quickly down to his car, slipped inside, and drove away. Halfway back to Minneapolis, still in the grip of mortal fear, shaking with the cold, he remembered that cars have heaters and turned it on.

He was in Minneapolis before he realized he was hurt. Goddamn pipe. Going to have big bruises, he thought, shoulders and back. Bitch. The gun shouldn’t be a problem, couldn’t be traced.

Christ it hurt.

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  • Posted February 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Sandford can Follow the Rules in RULES OF PREY!

    Never kill anyone you know.
    Never have a motive.
    Never follow a discernable pattern.
    Never carry a weapon after it has been used.


    Listed above are a few of the many rules made by the serial madman that he has you obligated to follow. He is on the loose, in the meantime, while you're fighting to keep the press out of the loop. What would you do? Would you abide to his compulsive game? Would you stand idle and risk another innocent life being taken? Or would you, instead, come up with rules of your own in a way to cease the violence enforced by the bad guy. These are the questions that are pondering inside the mind of the hero in bestselling author John Sandford's RULES OF PREY.


    The first installment of Sandford's well-known crime series introduces detective Lucas Davenport, a man with a life ahead of him. On duty, he is a tough, ruthless Minnesota cop who abides by little or no nonsense from anybody. Behind the badge, nevertheless, is a successful entrepreneur who writes games for a living. And from a personal standpoint, not to mention, he is a raunchy, womanizing swinger who constantly jumps in love from one woman to another.


    In the debut of this hit series by Sandford, Davenport is called in to investigate a series of murders committed by Louis "Maddogg" Vullion. To every body who closely knows Louis, he is a mediocre tax attorney struggling to make ends meat. But the other face of Louis is that of an obsessive madman who commits his killings by religiously following a meticulous set of rules. In attempt of serving as a challenge to Davenport, he leaves a note of one of his rules at each and every one of his crime scenes, such as the ones mentioned earlier. With one killing happening after another, the media and the Twin Cities are in a paranoid frenzy. Lucas, on the other end, decides to play by rules of his own.


    RULES OF PREY is a very entertaining entry by Sandford. His characters are likeable and fresh. The plot of the book is a cut-clean and simple one. Readers will find the story to be very satisfying, something they will not find to be either forced or tiring. A trait that readers will accolade him for is his ability to write. No doubt, SANDFORD IS WONDERFUL WITH THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE!!!! His ability to describe the settings and to be able to deride thoughts and ideas is just beyond out of this world. As far as complaints go, the only one that readers will conjure up is that of how the ending abruptly ended. It may not be of one that ties every event in place, yet it will be of one that readers that will find entertaining and satisfying.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2008

    First of an interesting series

    Interesting lead character and well rounded supporting characters. You¿ll even like the villain. From the first murder you¿re caught up in the story. After reading the first in the prey series I couldn¿t stop until I read them all. You won¿t be disappointed with Mr. Sanford¿s writing style.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2000

    Unbelievable

    This is the first book that I've read by John Sandford, and now I can't wait to read the rest. This book makes you stay up way past your bedtime.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2012

    Author of a cop series who hates the NRA?

    Thought I'd seek another mystery series after exhausting so many others.

    The story line of Rules of Prey was a bit drawn out. A bit frustrating.

    Then, Sandford slips in an anti-NRA line.

    Bite the hand that feeds you, Sandford. Only once with this former law enforcement, very PRO NRA reader.

    Bye.

    3 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2010

    no good to read.

    Semi-graphic in nature, strong language.

    3 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2013

    Not recommended for the avid lover of detective series

    This is the first book I read of Sandford's. I'm pretty sure it will be the last. I found the writing to be sloppy (constant repetition of character names, lousy grammar, etc.) and his detective rather unlikable. It's one thing to push the rules a bit to catch the bad guy, but Davenport actually plants evidence on the killer. Also, I knew the ending by the second chapter -- not very clever. I'll stick to Harry Bosch, thanks.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2012

    Not worth the money

    I read the first few pages and quit reading. It was disgusting.

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Great Read for the Thriller Genre

    I'm a big fan of the thriller genre & the 1st of my quest to read the entire John Sanford "Prey Series" certainly didn't disappoint. I loved Sanford's writing style + plot twists & both kept my glued to my nook. As the lead character, Lucas Davenport is a bit hard to love. He shows little regard for the women in his life or the boundaries of the law. BUT he's so smart, good at what he does & you're very glad he's on your side, so to speak. I look forward to completing the next installment which is in progress.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    My 2nd favorite detective

    This is the best Davenport story I have read so far. I have read quite a few of them.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Playboy

    The only con for this series is that the main character is highly unfaithful to his female opposites. This is not a good example for young adults.

    Otherwise, the writer is GREAT with his plots and how they turn out.

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2013

    I was very excited to stumble across this series!

    This book was very well written the story and plot had an easy and realistic flow. The characters were very well thought out and developed. It is a murder mystery following along both the lead detective as well as the killer himself. You get an inside view of what the killer is thinking / feeling as well as the detective pursuing him. I thought it was nice to see both views! The characters were believable, likable, and in depth. Some sex in this book and adult content not appropriate for younger readers. At times fun and playful as well as gritty and ruthless at others. Turns twists and surprises! Story flows well and keeps you entertained. This would make a great book club book because it'd be fun to talk about with others. Makes you want to keep reading! Looking forward to reading the next books in the series!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2012

    So, so.

    I'm 110 pages in and I'm losing interest. I bought it because I saw a movie entitled Certain Prey (best I can recall) so I thought I would start the Prey series with the first book. In this case, the movie, although not the same story to be sure, certainly beats the book.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2010

    Highly Recommended

    After reading this book, I was hooked on the series. Davenport and the other characters form an unexpected contagious group. Could not put this book down!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2013

    Flashfire

    I read Winter Prey first and was immediately hooked. I am a serious fan of R.B.Parker, esp. Spenser, Lee Childs Reacher, J.D. Mcdonalds McGee and have collected them all. For fans of the genre, Sandford is on par with them, or even better, a must read. His stories have great plots, are well written with a lot of droll "black humor" (you have be, or have been, a GI or cop to really appreciate some of it) and move at a fast pace--be prepared to stay up late. He pokes fun at stereo types and at the PC dweebs. His jibes at the NRA (Nnot Rreal Aamericans) and the Repubelicans only make him better. His stuff are serious fun.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2013

    A good find

    Although Mr. Sandford has been writing for years this is the first novel I have read by him. I was pleasantly surprised at how the story and the charactors interacted. I look forward to continuing the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2013

    Anonymous

    This is my first time reading John Sandford. Specifically his "Lucas Davenport" novels. The book did hold my interest, although, the main character, Lucas Davenport, didn't thrill me too much. As a matter of fact, I found him to be a womanizer and a mediocre cop. I'm going to give the author, John Sandford, the benefit of the doubt, considering this was his first attempt at this character and read the next book in the series, "Shadow Prey" and hope this character gets better. I'm even going to try the "Virgil Flowers" novels because someone said they were better. Here's hoping!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2013

    2 dimensional

    Unfortunately the characters in this book are almost perfectly 2 dimensional. The main character in particular. I got about half way through.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2013

    One more in the long line of intriguing Prey novels.

    Sanford's Lucas Davenport series is always full of twists and turns. Even though you know Lucas is going to solve the crime in the end. Sanford allows him to get distracted and side tracked by false leads, and barely making the correct call in the nick of time. He has to get blind-sided by the truth before recognizing the obvious.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    Eh!

    Had a hard time getting into the story... Stopped reading it after chapter 8.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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