Lucas Davenport is called in when a couple is found hanged ("not lynched") in a small Mid-western town. It's not long before he comes to the conclusion that the couple were involved in the recent kidnap and murder of a child, and that their killer is the child's father. But there's someone else who was involed too: and by the time Lucas arrives at the father's house to arrest him, that someone has got there first.
This is the third Prey book I've read, and the best so far. Not that similar in structure to the other two, and all the more impressive for that. What worked particularly well in the book was the fact that the story, as it unfolded, was told through the eyes of various of the participants, but there was relatively little filling in of the back story. So you know pretty much what everyone's doing, and who the bad guys are, from the start, without knowing exactly why they did what they did. And as well as the kidnap, there are a couple of other criminal rackets going on, so most people in the town have got something to hide, from each other and from the police.
Because we know what's going on better than the characters, there is a fair amount of humour to be derived from situations where we can see that someone's misread a situation: the sort of thing that happens in Elmore Leonard, although the writing styles are different. But this was more thrilling than Leonard, especially the scene where the killer comes after Letty, an eleven-year-old girl who he (wrongly) thinks has seen something that could be used as evidence against him.
Read again in April 2012:Seven years since I first read the book! It's a classic though, and I think has a plot which is stronger than the recent Buried Prey. The section where the killer goes after Letty, which I remembered playing to Ella at the time, was good, but I don't think the rest of the book was any less impressive. Something I did notice was that the most moving section in the book was where Lucas comes and helps Letty after the attack - you really get a feeling of safety and "it's gonna be OK" when he scoops her up in his arms.
Something that struck me here was that in this book, you don't actually get to know exactly what happened: Lucas believes they've got the guy, but we as the readers know that there were other people involved that Lucas never knew about. That's because the book switched between the perspectives of Lucas and the criminals. But the "criminal" perspective, while giving us more information, doesn't completely explain how it all worked, because while the criminals are thinking and talking, they don't go back over the plot and explain how they did it. I thought this was good.
Read again in 2014. Enjoyed it again! Not sure I want to read it for the fourth time just yet, but I likely will do that eventually.
Completed : 26-Aug-2005 (audiobook, read by Richard Ferrone)
Completed : 16-Apr-2012 (audiobook, read by Richard Ferrone)
Completed : 14-Sep-2014 (audiobook, read by Richard Ferrone)