JOHN SANDFORD – Night Prey. Lucas Davenport #6. Putnam, hardcover, 1994. Berkley, paperback, 1995.

   Sandford is really John Camp (or is it vice versa?) under which name he wrote two books about a computer whiz/criminal which I liked a lot — The Fool’s Run and The Empress File. I guess he’s doing too well with the “Prey” series to do any more of those, though. Pity — they were a lot better, to my taste.

   Lucas Davenport is back with the Minneapolis PD, this time as a Deputy Chief in charge of special projects, To no one’s surprise, including Lucas’s and ours, his next project turns out to be a serial killer. An abrasive lady state cop has come to Davenport’s chief with a file that indicates one is loose in the Twin Cities area, and that his timetable is shortening.

   Davenport’s chief doesn’t feel she can afford to ignore the possibility, and assigns him and a task force to work with the woman on the case. Sure enough, more blood is spilled, and then more.

   Would someone tell me why I used up a precious hour or two reading this? Please? I know I don’t like serial killer books, particularly those which alternate viewpoints with the killer and the pursuer, and I knew that was what this was and read it anyway.

   Sandford’s strengths are his often chilling portraits of serial killers, his strong central character of Lucas Davenport, and his excellent storytelling ability. All are in full evidence here. If I were going to read any more s.k.’s, these would be on my shelf right alongside Thomas Harris. But I’m not, I swear. Stop me before I do it again, somebody.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #14, August 1994.

Bibliographic Updates:   John Sandford’s real name is John Camp. He wrote his first two books, the ones Barry mentions, under his own name, although they were both reprinted later as by Sandford. The computer whiz in those books was a fellow named Joe Kidd. There have been two later books in the series, published as by Sandford.

   As of this year and the publication of Twisted Prey there will be 28 books in the Lucas Davenport series, and ten more with Virgil Flowers, who is a member of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and who reports to Lucas Davenport.