This book is the best Prey book in a long time. Partly that’s because half occurs in the late 1980s, whose memories are warm, fuzzy, and indistinct enough that there’s no sudden eruptions of “Reagan sucks, huh?” or “The tired old man we elected king is going to start a nuclear war while calling for his nurse!” Well, nothing along those lines in the olden times. When we get to the modern day, Sandford gets to put in a character who is a gun nut (and Davenport doesn’t care for gun nuts), but this particular “gun nut” is an archetypical “gun nut” put into little social lesson for readers. But this gun nut is not anything like the gun nuts I know. Sandford manages to get him shot to prove that having a gun for self-defense doesn’t help in books.
But aside from that.
As a prequel of sorts, the book deals more with Lucas Davenport investigating rather than project managing an investigation. Which is cool. The plot deals with the first case Davenport handled when he was temporarily made a detective out of necessity. Two young girls disappear, and Davenport investigates. The police find a suspect, a homeless man with mental issues, but Davenport is not entirely convinced. However, he cannot pursue his alternate suspect because the brass decide the case is closed and Davenport becomes busy with other investigations.
25 years later, roughly, the girls are unearthed in a suburban neighborhood far from where they went missing and far from the homeless man’s territory. Davenport has to deal with the guilt he feels once he realizes he let a killer continue killing, and one of the recently slain is a longtime friend and series recurring character.
It’s a particularly good book because the political stuff (both fictional and social messaging) is left behind. Mr. Sandford, (or his proxy who Googles him regularly, tell him that) you could probably write more early Davenport books set in the past without losing your readers. Let’s face it, your books aren’t being bought by millenials who need Davenport to have a cell phone and Internet connection. Your books are getting bought by old timers like myself who remember pay phones and dial-up connections.