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Golden Prey by John Sandford

Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on April 25, 2017

Lucas Davenport is adapting to his new gig as a deputy marshal. He doesn’t do the usual boring work that keeps deputy marshals busy — prisoner transport, courthouse security — and his ability to avoid mundane duties causes almost as much resentment as the fact that he drives a Porsche. Even his boss, the marshal in his district, resents Lucas because Lucas doesn’t answer to the marshal. He does help chase the occasional fugitive, but mostly he wants to make his own assignments. He managed this gig because he saved the life of a presidential candidate in the last Prey novel, a fact that apparently disturbed readers of an irrational political persuasion.

The first big job Davenport assigns himself is to track down Gavin Poole, an old-fashioned robber who goes after banks and armored cars and mail trucks. Poole has a lethal girlfriend named Pandora Box (Dora for short). The reader spends some of the novel following Poole and his associates.

Poole recently ripped off a major drug dealer from Honduras, which was not a wise thing to do. Two killers are after him, and the reader spends some of the novel following the killers. They’re quirky, which makes a certain amount of sense since normal people don’t torture and kill for a living, but giving the bad guys some amusing traits is also a John Sandford trademark.

Of course, the reader spends most of the novel following Davenport. For some of the novel he’s teamed with a couple of other deputy marshals. Sandford always give secondary characters believable personalities, and the marshals are a good addition to the cast. The ending hints that they might return in a future novel.

Sandford has a dry and droll sense of humor that infects most of the characters, good guys and bad guys alike. Some of the action takes Davenport to Texas and the southwest, far removed from his usual Minnesota environs. That gives Davenport a chance make wry comparisons of the states and their people.

The last quarter of the novel is essentially an extended chase scene that culminates in an extended shootout, but few writers manage those elements as well as Sandford. The action makes the story race forward, but not so quickly that the characters don’t have time to poke fun at each other. In short, this is a solid entry in a series that consistently entertains.


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