Through the years, Sandford has managed to deliver a consistent crime series featuring Lucas Davenport. The current thriller, Twisted Prey, opens a new horizon for Davenport as a federal marshal. Sandford's early tales (Rules of Prey, Shadow Prey, Eyes of Prey, etc.) rolled out with a bang, promising a long relationship with avid readers. Over time, Davenport's role as a top agent in the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension became less active, more involved in management decisions but not actively chasing criminals. He is delighted to assume a new, wider field of investigation as a federal marshal, his territory expanded. Now the experienced lawman has more freedom, tackling more diverse cases and interfacing with the other agencies involved. Reinvigorated, Lucas is anxious to begin this new phase of his career.
Sandford allows his characters to age with the passage of time; they remain vital and interesting (though they do seem to age more slowly than readers). As a federal marshal, Lucas is ready to pursue a bevy of jaded criminals with enthusiasm, requesting assistance from former marshals he has met--especially the team of Rae Givens and Bob Matees, who bring their own particular talents to investigations. Twisted Prey starts with an attempted assassination on U.S. Senator Porter Smalls. At first inspection, a deadly car crash appears to be an accident. But the senator, who escapes harm--his companion is killed--explains his suspicions to Davenport, suggesting a nefarious plot on his life.
As the mystery expands, the investigation turns toward a group of private military contractors, stateside-based companies that have proliferated since the war in Iraq: professional warriors, well-trained and willing to fight. In a blend of Washington insider politics, ex-intelligence agents and well-connected mercenaries, Davenport moves cautiously toward a woman whom Senator Smalls believes set up the attempt on his life, Senator Taryn Grant. Lucas is familiar with Grant's ambition and her willingness to break the rules to get what she wants. Lucas has tangled with Grant before, a ruthless woman capable of violence if the occasion demands, three people dead in the wake of her successful race for the Senate. Davenport and Grant are natural enemies, the senator steering clear of Lucas as she moves closer to her goal.
Given the "confluence of crime, money and political power" endemic to Washington, Lucas is uncomfortable in the heart of the government, but this particular case holds his interest. His former introduction to Taryn Grant has left him suspicious and deeply troubled about her capacity for mischief in the halls of power. This female character is decidedly over the top, a fitting adversary in a thriller that exposes the ugly underbelly of profitable Washington lobbies and private military contractors, the insidious nature of power and the well-oiled machine of the federal Marshals Service. The excitement starts with an "accident" but ends in a flurry of violence that demands swift justice, a fitting start for Davenport's new career path.