Golden Prey, by John Sandford

Garvin Poole, a professional criminal and murderer, kills a bunch of drug dealers and steals their money. He also shoots dead a six year old girl who got in the way. Lucas, in his first major Marshall’s role, is put on the trail of Poole and his accomplices. But they’re also being chased by various combinations of assassins from the drug cartel who want their money back.

This feels like vintage prey. The assassins include murderous couple who have no compunction about torturing people to try and get info on where the robbers are. It reminded me of Clara Rinker a bit, except they’re not sympathetic characters at all. But very funny because they dislike each other intensely and argue a lot. And they’re in a race with Lucas who's following the same trail and trying to speak to the same people.

There were some good set pieces - e.g. when the assassins are in the middle of cutting off a woman’s foot when her 10 year-old son appears with his father's rifle and starts shooting them. And another occasion when Lucas is interviewing someone to find where the robbers are, only to have the assassins turn up at the farmhouse after the same person who he's trying to interview.

At one point Lucas interviews someone and then, a day later, the assassins, who’ve got a hacker who can track phone GPS signals, turn up and torture the same person to try and get information. Lucas works out that they must have tracked his phone which I thought was a bit far fetched; seemed like a more likely explanation would have been that the guy being interviewed had let slip to the wrong person that he’d been talking to Lucas. But Lucas appears not to consider this.

As Lucas gets closer Poole, Poole decides to leave. And he makes a point of leaving the house with no plan at all on where to go to. "If I don't know where I'm going, how is he going to be able to follow where I go?" and this was one of several occasions where I thought "that's right, how on earth is Lucas going to track him down?"

There was marked contrast here to Pilate in Gathering Prey: whereas Pilate is frequently described by Lucas as being the worst kind of criminal you could come up against, but in fact didn’t seem that fearsome to me, because most of the things he’s done are in the past; the assassins in this book really seem frightening, because the action follows what they’re doing, and what they’re doing is pretty nasty.

A really good one. Lucas seems set for more adventures in his new role. I just have to decide whether to go straight on to the next one, which is the only one I now have left in the series.

Completed : 03-Feb-2019 (audiobook, read by Richard Ferrone)

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