Golden Prey
John Sandford
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Golden Prey
John Sandford
400 pages
April 2017
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Sandford made a smart move giving popular character Lucas Davenport a new career as a US Marshal with wide-ranging investigative power. Davenport is ready for some new challenges in Golden Prey, free from the politics and petty bureaucracy of the old job, with the appropriate contacts in Washington to report on cases and request assistance. Best of all, heís got wide latitude when investigating. His first case involves tracking down a career criminal with a string of bodies in his wake, including a state trooper and a six-year-old girl.

Living below the radar, Gavin Poole has resurfaced as the possible mastermind behind a heist in Biloxi, Mississippi. Lucas decides to tackle the case the old-fashioned way: face-to-face interviews with friends and family, beginning with Pooleís elderly parents. Unfortunately, Davenport arrives too late, facing a troubling complication to the investigation: the drug lords whose money was stolen have sent a team of assassins to clean up first, a problem that shadows the case at every step. Now itís a race against time; every piece of information, no matter how obscure, is vital. The cartelís killers have a knack for getting to each destination first, leaving Davenport and his assigned team, Bob and Rae, to be confronted with the bloody aftermath of their visit. The chase takes them through the southwest, Poole and his partner frantically racing to safety while Lucas and his various US Marshals and local officers close in on the suspects.

Sandford models his revitalized Lucas Davenport on the protagonist in Gathering Prey (Lucas unleashed), also featuring a wild chase across a broad terrain, the lawman moving freely and combining his investigation with available law enforcement personnel, from local police to US Marshals and Border Patrol. When the action accelerates, Davenport taps his Washington contact for additional assistance. After piecing together the details of Poole and his likely partner, Lucas knows his team is at a disadvantage. The cartel killers get to the intended subjects first, leaving a scene of carnage for the investigators to find.

Sandford is known for his quirky characters good and bad, but the unlikely pair of assassins sent by the cartel to recover the stolen money are especially colorful, a man and woman with particular talents and no love for one another. All they have in common is a willingness to kill and claim a big payoff for their efforts. Nothing fazes this irredeemable pair, who leave a series of brutal scenes for Davenport to discover. The female is perhaps the most fearful, with a penchant for dissecting her helpless victims to make them talk. It begins with a flawed heist that doesnít go as planned, Poole eliminating any witnesses, including a little girl. But that simple plan, once marred by the death of a child, becomes instead prey and predators caught in a life-or-death chase.

Davenport fits well into his role as US Marshal, a natural fit for his talents, stimulated by the job and the many law enforcement personnel who lend their assistance. The landscape is broad, but complex, narrowing abruptly as law enforcement, cartel assassins and thieves converge in a final confrontation and an explosive ending. The Prey series lives on with a change of direction, Davenport facing limitless adventures ahead.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2017

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