Silent Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #4)

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The masterful New York Times bestselling thriller from the author of Rules of Prey and Eyes of Prey. Lucas Davenport once matched wits with brutal serial killer Michael Bekker--and won. Now Bekker has escaped, and he's back in New York City, where his case and that of a group of renegade cops accused of three dozen murders merge in terrifying and unexpected ways. (G.P. Putnam's Sons)
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Silent Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #4)

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The masterful New York Times bestselling thriller from the author of Rules of Prey and Eyes of Prey. Lucas Davenport once matched wits with brutal serial killer Michael Bekker--and won. Now Bekker has escaped, and he's back in New York City, where his case and that of a group of renegade cops accused of three dozen murders merge in terrifying and unexpected ways. (G.P. Putnam's Sons)
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Editorial Reviews

St. Paul Pioneer Press
Sleek and nasty...Superb.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This streamlined thriller is a rematch for Minneapolis homicide cop Lucas Davenport and the insane killer he caught in Sandford's earlier slasher novel, Eyes of Prey. After psychotic pathologist Dr. Mike Bekker escapes from a New York courthouse and begins a killing spree, NYPD Lt. Lily Rothenberg asks Davenport, her former lover, to come to Manhattan and help the investigation. Despite Bekker's ruined face (courtesy of an enraged Davenport), the killer eludes capture and the bodies keep piling up, each with the eyelids cut off so that Bekker could photograph his victims as they died. Rothenberg gives Davenport an additional, undercover assignment--to ferret out the ``Robin Hoods,'' a clandestine police vigilante group responsible for perhaps three dozen deaths, one of which was that of a fellow cop who might have been onto them. Paired with possible Robin Hood Det. Barbara Fell, Davenport taunts Bekker in the media, hoping to goad him into a mistake, but the grisly murders continue. As the momentum gathers, readers will speed through the surprise twists and confrontations of the last chapters. Although the story never drags and Sandford delivers his usual punch, the devices in his winning formula are becoming familiar. (Mar.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559945363
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/1/1992
  • Series: Lucas Davenport Series , #4
  • Format: Cassette

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.


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


A thought sparked in the chaos of Bekker’s mind.

The jury.

He caught it, mentally, like a quick hand snatching a fly from midair.

Bekker slumped at the defense table, the center of the circus. His vacant blue eyes rolled back, pale and wide as a plastic baby- doll’s, wandering around the interior of the courtroom, snagging on a light fixture, catching on an electrical outlet, sliding past the staring faces. His hair had been cut jail house short, but they had let him keep the wild blond beard. An act of mercy: The beard disguised the tangled mass of pink scar tissue that crisscrossed his face. In the middle of the beard, his pink rosebud lips opened and closed, like an eel’s, damp and glistening.

Bekker looked at the thought he’d caught: The jury. House wives, retirees, welfare trash. His peers, they called them. A ridiculous concept: He was a doctor of medicine. He stood at the top of his profession. He was respected. Bekker shook his head.

Understand . . . ?

The word tumbled from the judge- crow’s mouth and echoed in his mind. “Do you understand, Mr. Bekker?”

What . . . ?

The idiot flat- faced attorney pulled at Bekker’s sleeve: “Stand up.”

What . . . ?

The prosecutor turned to stare at him, hate in her eyes. The hate touched him, reached him, and he opened his mind and let it flow back. I’d like to have you for five minutes, good sharp scalpel would open you up like a goddamn oyster: zip, zip. Like a goddamn clam.

The prosecutor felt Bekker’s interest. She was a hard woman; she’d put six hundred men and women behind bars. Their petty threats and silly pleas no longer interested her. But she flinched and turned away from Bekker.

What? Standing? Time now?

Bekker struggled back. It was so hard. He’d let himself go during the trial. He had no interest in it. Refused to testify. The outcome was fixed, and he had more serious problems to deal with. Like survival in the cages of the Hennepin County Jail, survival without his medicine.

But now the time had come.

His blood still moved too slowly, oozing through his arteries like strawberry jam. He fought, and simultaneously fought to hide his struggle.


And he started, so slowly it was like walking through paste, trudging back to the courtroom. The trial had lasted for twenty- one days, had dominated the papers and the television newscasts. The cameras had ambushed him, morning

and night, hitting him in the face with their intolerable lights, the cameramen scuttling backward as they transferred him, in chains, between the jail and the courtroom.

The courtroom was done in blond laminated wood, with the elevated judge’s bench at the head of the room, the jury box to the right, tables for the prosecution and defense in front of the judge. Behind the tables, a long rail divided the room in two. Forty uncomfortable spectator’s chairs were screwed to the floor behind the rail. The chairs were occupied an hour before arguments began, half of them allotted to the press, the other half given out on a first- come basis. All during the trial, he could hear his name passing through the ranks of spectators: Bekker Bekker Bekker.

The jury filed out. None of them looked at him. They’d be secluded, his peers, and after chatting for a decent interval, they’d come back and report him guilty of multiple counts of first- degree murder. The verdict was inevitable. When it was in, the crow would put him away.

The black asshole in the next cell had said it, in his phony street dialect: “They gon slam yo’ nasty ass into Oak Park, m’man. You live in a motherfuckin’ cage the size of a motherfuckin’ refrigerator wit a TV watching you every move. You wanta take a shit, they watchin’ every move, they makin’ movies of it. Nobody ever git outa Oak Park. It is a true motherfucker.”

But Bekker wasn’t going. The thought set him off again, and he shook, fought to control it.

Focus . . .

He focused on the small parts: the gym shorts biting into the flesh at his waist. The razor head pressed against the back of his balls. The Sox cap, obtained in a trade for cigarettes, tucked under his belt. His feet sweating in the ridiculous running shoes. Running shoes and white socks with his doctor’s pinstripes—he looked a fool and he knew it, hated it. Only a moron would wear white socks with pinstripes, but white socks and running shoes . . . no. People would be laughing at him.

He could have worn his wing tips, one last time—a man is innocent until proven guilty—but he refused. They didn’t understand that. They thought it was another eccentricity, the plastic shoes with the seven- hundred- dollar suit. They didn’t know.


Everyone was standing now, the crow- suit staring, the attorney pulling at his sleeve. And here was Raymond Shaltie. . . .

“On your feet,” Shaltie said sharply, leaning over him. Shaltie was a sheriff’s deputy, an overweight time- server in an ill- fitting gray uniform.

“How long?” Bekker asked the attorney, looking up, struggling to get the words out, his tongue thick in his mouth.

“Shhh . . .”

The judge was talking, looking at them: “. . . standing by, and if you leave your numbers with my office, we’ll get in touch as soon as we get word from the jury . . .”

The attorney nodded, looking straight ahead. He wouldn’t meet Bekker’s eyes. Bekker had no chance. In his heart, the attorney didn’t want him to have a chance. Bekker was nuts. Bekker needed prison. Prison forever and several days more.

“How long?” Bekker asked again. The judge had disappeared into her chambers. Like to get her, too.

“Can’t tell. They’ll have to consider the separate counts,” the attorney said. He was court- appointed, needed the money. “We’ll come get you. . . .”

Pig’s eye, they would.

“Let’s go,” said Shaltie. He took Bekker’s elbow, dug his fingertips into the nexus of nerves above Bekker’s elbow, an old jailer’s trick to establish dominance. Unknowingly, Shaltie did Bekker a favor. With the sudden sharp pulse of pain, Bekker snapped all the way back, quick and hard, like a handclap.

His eyes flicked once around the room, his mind cold, its usual chaos squeezed into a high- pressure corner, wild thoughts raging like rats in a cage. Calculating. He put pain in his voice, a childlike plea: “I need to go. . . .”

“Okay.” Shaltie nodded. Ray Shaltie wasn’t a bad man. He’d worked the courts for two de cades, and the experience had mellowed him—allowed him to see the human side of even the worst of men. And Bekker was the worst of men.

But Bekker was nevertheless human, Shaltie believed: He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone. . . . Bekker was a man gone wrong, but still a man. And in words that bubbled from his mouth in a whiny singsong, Bekker told Shaltie about his hemorrhoids. Jail food was bad for them, Bekker said. All cheese and bread and pasta. Not enough roughage. He had to go. . . .

He always used the bathroom at noon, all through the twenty- one days of the trial. Raymond Shaltie sympathized: He’d had them himself. Shaltie took Bekker by the arm and led him past the now empty jury box, Bekker shuffling, childlike, eyes unfocused. At the door, Shaltie turned him— docile, quiet, apparently gone to another world—and put on the handcuffs and then the leg chains. Another deputy watched the pro cess, and when Bekker was locked up, drifted away, thinking of lunch.

“Gotta go,” Bekker said. His eyes turned up to Ray Shaltie.

“You’ll be okay, you’ll be okay,” Shaltie said. Shaltie’s tie had soup stains on it, and flakes of dandruff spotted his shoulders: an oaf, Bekker thought. Shaltie led Bekker out of the courtroom, Bekker doing the jail house shuffle, his legs restricted to a thirty- inch stride. Behind the courtroom, a narrow hallway led to an internal stairway, and from there, to a holding cell. But to the left, through a service door, was a tiny employees- only men’s room, with a sink, a urinal, a single stall.

Shaltie followed Bekker into the men’s room. “Now, you’re okay . . .” A warning in his voice. Ray Shaltie was too old to fight.

“Yes,” Bekker said, his pale- blue eyes wandering in their sockets. Behind the wandering eyes, his mind was moving easily now, the adrenaline acting on his brain like a dose of the purest amphetamine. He turned, lifted his arms up and back, thrusting his wrists at Shaltie. Shaltie fitted the key, uncuffed the prisoner: Shaltie was breaking the rules, but a man can’t wipe himself if he’s wearing handcuffs. Besides, where would Bekker go, high up here in the government building, with the leg chains? He couldn’t run. And his wildly bearded face was, for the moment at least, the most recognizable face in the Cities.

Bekker shuffled into the stall, shut the door, dropped his trousers, sat down. Eyes sharp now, focused. They used disposable safety razors in the jail, Bics. He’d broken the handle off one, leaving only the head and a stub, easy to hide during the shakedowns. When he’d had a chance, he’d burned the stub with a match, rounding the edges, to make it more comfortable to wear. This morning he’d taped it under his balls, fixed with the end of a Band- Aid. Now he peeled the razor off himself, pulled the remaining tape off the razor, and began hacking at his beard.

He’d grown the beard to cover his furrowed face. Bekker, once so beautiful, the possessor of a classic Nordic face, a pale, uninflected oval with rose lips, had been beaten into a grotesque gnome, torn to pieces and only poorly repaired. Davenport. Get Davenport. The fantasy seized him: opening Davenport, using the knife to peel the face, lifting the skin off inch by inch. . . .

He fought it: Fantasies were for the lockup. He forced Davenport out of his mind and continued shaving, quickly, raggedly, the razor scraping over his dry skin. The pain prompted a groan. Outside the stall, Shaltie winced.

“ ’Bout done in there?” Shaltie called. The bathroom smelled of ammonia, chlorine, urine, and wet mops.

“Yes, Ray.” Bekker dropped the razor in his jacket pocket, then worked on the toilet- paper holder. Originally, it had been held in place with four screws. He’d removed and flushed two of them during the first three days of the trial, and had worked the other two loose. He’d actually had them out the day before, to make sure the holder would pull free. It had. Now he removed the screws one last time, dropped them in the toilet and eased the paper- holder free from the wall. When he grasped it by the roller, it fit his hand like a steel boxing glove.

“Okay now, Ray.” Bekker stood, pulled his pants up, pulled off his jacket, dropped the coat over the iron fist, flushed the toilet. Took a breath. Put his head down, as though he were looking at his fly. Opened the door. Shuffled forward.

Shaltie was waiting with the cuffs: jowly, freckled, slow on the uptake. “Turn around. . . .”

Seeing Bekker’s face, realizing: “Hey . . .”

Bekker was half- turned, wound up. He dropped the jacket, his right hand whipping like a lash, his mouth open, his white teeth flashing in the fluorescence. Shaltie lurched back, tried to cover with a hand. Too late, too late. The stainless- steel club hit him above the ear: Shaltie went down, cracking the back of his head on the porcelain sink as he fell.

And then Bekker was on him, lifting the steel fist, smashing it down, lifting it, feeling Shaltie’s skull crack, the blood spatter.

Hit hit hit hit . . .

The synapses of Bekker’s brain lit with the static sparks. He fought it, fought for control, but it was hard, the smell of fresh blood in his nose. He stopped swinging, found his left hand on Shaltie’s throat. Pulled the hand away, half stood, brain not quite right. He said aloud, shushing himself, “Shhh. Shhhhhh,” finger to his lips.

He straightened. His blood was running like water now, like steam, filling him. Now what? Door. He hobbled to the door, flipped the catch. Locked. Good. He went back to Shaltie, who was supine on the tile floor, blowing blood bubbles through his torn nose. Bekker had watched the deputy handle his keys, and the keys had gone in Shaltie’s right pocket. . . . He found them, popped the locks on the leg chains. Free. Free.

Stop. He brought himself back, looked in the mirror. His face was a mess. He retrieved the razor from his jacket pocket, splashed water and liquid soap on his face and raked the razor across it. Listened to Shaltie, breathing, a gargling moan. Shaltie’s head lay in a puddle of blood, and Bekker could smell it.

Bekker threw the razor in a trash basket, turned, stooped, caught Shaltie under the shoulders, dragged him to the toilet stall, sat him on the toilet and propped him against the wall. Shaltie made a snoring sound and more blood bubbled from his nose. Bekker ignored him. Not much time.

He stripped off his suit pants, put the Sox hat on his head, and used the pants to wipe up the blood on the floor. When he finished, he threw the pants, jacket, shirt and tie over Shaltie’s body. Checked himself in the mirror: green tank top, red shorts, gym shoes, hat. A jogger. The face was bad, but nobody had seen him close up, without a beard, for weeks. A few of the cops would know him, a couple of lawyers. But with any luck, they wouldn’t be looking at joggers.

Davenport. The thought stopped him. If Davenport was out there, had come to see the verdict, Bekker was a dead man.

No help for that. He threw off the thought, took a breath. Ready. He stepped inside the stall with Shaltie, locked it, dropped to his back, slid under the door, stood up again.

“Motherfucker.” He said it out loud, had learned it in jail: the standard, all- purpose curse. He dropped back on the floor, slid halfway under the stall, groped for Shaltie’s wallet. Found it, checked it. Twelve dollars. One credit card, a Visa. Not good. Money could be a problem. . . . He slipped the wallet into his underpants, went to the door, listened.

Could hear Shaltie breathing, bubbling. Bekker thought about going back into the stall, strangling him with his belt. All the humiliations of the past weeks, the torture when they took away his chemicals . . . Not enough time. Time was hurting him now. Had to move.

He left Shaltie living, turned the lock knob, peered into the hallway. The internal corridor was empty. Went to the next door—public hall. Half dozen people, all down at the public end, near the elevators, talking. He wouldn’t have to walk past them. The stairs were the other way: He could see the exit sign, just beyond the fire hose.

Another breath. And move. He stepped out into the hall, head down. A lunchtime bureaucrat- jogger on his way outside. He walked confidently down the hall to the stairs, away from the elevators. Waiting for a shout. For someone to point a finger. For running feet.

He was in the stairway. Nobody took the stairs, not from this high up. . . .

He ran down, counting the floors. As he passed six, a door slammed somewhere below and he heard somebody walking down ahead of him. He padded softly behind, heard another door open and shut, and stepped up the pace again. At the main level, he stopped and looked out. Dozens of people milled through the reception area. Okay. This was the second floor. He needed one more. He went down another level, and found an unmarked steel door. He pushed it open. He was outside, standing on the plaza. The summer sun was brilliant, the breeze smelled of popcorn and pigeons. A woman sitting on a bench, a kid next to her. She was cutting an apple with a penknife, her kid waiting for the apple.

Head down, Bekker jogged past her. Just another lunchtime fitness freak, weaving through the traffic, knees up, sweating in the sunshine.

Running like a maniac.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 71 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 72 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2012

    My Favorite So Far of the John Sanford "Prey Series"

    Wow! What a great read! I'm reading the series from start-to-finish & it just gets better & better at fulfilling its promise to be exceptional. This book was terrific from beginning-to-end ... full of plot twists + vivid character description. It also shows how damned smart Lucas Davenport is & why he's so good at what he does. A welcome bonus is that an even more human side of him continues to be revealed.

    1 caution to new readers - The continuity of the plots & "supporting cast of characters" runs from book-to-book, so it's best to read them in order vs randomly. Otherwise you'll be "all over the map" trying to sort out the details you should already know.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted August 1, 2012

    Fantastic Reading

    I love this man's writing style and the Prey series is wonderful reading for me. He seems to hit all the twists and turns and makes it a believable story all the way through. There is the slow and grinding police work involved and nothing superhuman about the investigations of the crimes. I give all of these books the same ratings and reviews.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2012

    Wonderful Series - fast paced and keeps you on the edge.

    Can't wait to finish one so I can start on the next!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2011


    I stayed up to keep readong rather than go to bed. A page-turner with more twists and turns than a bag of pretzels! I am in the process of re-reading the Prey series in chronilogical order. Sandford gets better with each novel he writes. I barely finish one before I am looking forward to the next in the sequence!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A terrific thriller!

    John Sandford has such a great skill set when it comes to creating flawed characters. Whether it be truly evil Michael Bekker, some morally ambiguous New York City cops, or his protagonist, Lucas Davenport. I really enjoyed seeing the fish out of water as Davenport has to deal with the big city. Bekker is such a terrifying villain. One of recent fiction's best. The dialogue and plot were very good as usual. The side story involving Robin Hood wasn't as interesting as the main tale but overall this was a very good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2014


    John Sanford has done it again, I couldn't put the book down. Excellent!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013

    Hunting Grounds

    These are the SwiftClan hunting grounds. SwiftClan's main food sources are rabbits, mice, and birds, so expect to see a lot of those. Sometimes, I will put prey posts.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2012

    A strange noise

    A strange(twoleg) noise comes from the forest

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2012


    I obviously know youve been back

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2012



    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2008

    Poor excuse of a book

    This book was bland and that is an understatement. Sandford is a good writer however his plots are very basic. Nothing leaves you thinking after you are done. This book was the 7th I have read from him and its the worst to date. The others have been 4's for me but in this one, it's so straight forward. No twists, turns -- you are left bored at times. He is good at what he does but if you have read folks like Crais or Connelly this author bore you. He is a bit to easy to read. I mean nothing leaves me wanting more or scratchin my head but at least his ideas are pretty good but just not put to words as well as I have read from others in this genre.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2002

    Again, it was Aight

    I would say that you could read this book without necessarily reading other Stanford books...I did. I liked this book, but at times, it bored me. I liked reading about Bekker's character not because he was a murderer, but because every time you met up with him, it was new and unpredictable. I think people should read this book if they have nothing better to do.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2001


    This is the fifth 'Prey' book I have read and I liked it least of all. This is a follow up on 'Eyes of Prey'. If you do read this one you need to read 'Eyes' first. The story starts out ok with Dr. Bekker escaping from the place where his trial is being held. Lucus is asked to go to New York to help find him, but he is also asked to help see if cops are involved in killing people. They are called Robin Hoods. It is really a story in a story, was confusing to me. I had trouble following both things going on. May just be a slow mind on my part. Lucus is his usual bed hopping self. I don't like that part about his character, but then I guess I don't have to read these if I don't. The book ends ok but I just never got a good feel for the book. this is the first book by Sandford that I almost had to make myself finish it. I feel 'Winter Prey' is the best one for me.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 16, 2011

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    Posted August 21, 2011

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    Posted May 28, 2010

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    Posted June 6, 2011

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    Posted April 20, 2011

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    Posted November 28, 2010

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