Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Phantom Prey by John Sandford
Sometimes an author is like an ex-girlfriend. You don't actually go out of the way to avoid her at the market, but you don't actively seek her out either. And then you bump into one another and you're floored by how great she is and you wonder why you split up in the first place.
That's the case with John Sanford, an author I've always liked but sometimes hesitate to read, for reason or reasons unknown to my conscious self.
In the case of Phantom Prey I must have kept the book on the shelf for two weeks or more, and when I finished it I spent an equal amount of time kicking myself for the delay.
Phantom Prey features Lucas Davenport, who at the request of his wife investigates the disappearance of a young woman. At the same time the woman's friends, all members of the Goth community, are being stalked and killed by a woman known as 'The Fairy'.
It's a fine story, well plotted and not as predictable as many mystery novels. While I think you'll reason out the killer's identity, there will be 25% of your brain that remains unsure, just enough to keep the juices flowing.
The plot is almost secondary, because what sets Sandford apart is his style.
Sandford has a knack for telling a story in little clusters of scenes that move the story forward in rapid fashion, while never skimping on what's important or dwelling on the insignificant. His characters come off as real; nowadays Davenport is far more concerned with coming home to his wife and kids and arguing about furniture than he is kicking the tar out of someone. He'll have bouts of work-related depression, but you won't find him hitting the bottle or spending chapter after chapter moaning about the human condition.
Phantom Prey is an enjoyable, easy read that serves to bolster Sandford's reputation even higher.
3.25 out of 4, 84 out of 100