Rules of Prey by John Sanford

Rate: 4/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview (No Spoilers):

If pressed to name a genre that would be my least favorite, I would likely quibble and qualify but ultimately identify detective fiction as a safe answer. Usually I enjoy the clever twists and turns but eventually grow weary of the almost prescribed, unrelenting pace that takes on a predictive nature as it runs our main character into the ground, before they miraculously save the day at the last second. Almost every detective novel I’ve read seems to follow the same recipe, even Butcher’s Storm Front, which had the added element of fantasy but still failed to break from traditional ingredients of the genre in question. With my general bias attitude established, Rules of Prey proved to be a pleasant surprise, with a pacing that kept the reader riveted without being emotionally exhausting, while being suffused with intricate details that brought Minneapolis to life. The world building effort contained a high level of imagery that worked to draw the reader into this suspenseful literary realm while simultaneously allowing Sanford to deliberately establish a foundation for which the rest of his Prey series to evolve upon. Interestingly, despite each character having very distinct personalities, quirks, and motivations, I thought the serial killer, Vullion, had perhaps the most complex and thorough development of cast. Our rugged hero Lucas Davenport contained all the elements to achieve beyond two dimensionality with his intriguing side hobby of making games and the cultivation of his seedier connections, however he didn’t quite make that leap in Rules of Prey to break beyond his prescribed role likely due to the effort placed on chasing women. The unique characters and high level of detail, when combined with a plot that interwove the two key POVs into an ever tightening pattern of suspense resulted in a work of detective fiction that exceeded any expectations I’d been harboring. Overall, Rules of Prey was an excellent novel that proved to be a highly entertaining read that will keep the reader mindlessly flipping pages at an ever faster pace with each new unexpected twist.

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • Davenport was seriously stressing me out with his constant juggling of women, especially once he found out that one of them was going to be carrying his child.
  • Setting up the reporter was another delicate dance that frayed my nerves! Although I must say I enjoyed the aggravation it provided Jennifer Carey. I couldn’t decide how I felt about Carey. She was ruthless and would betray Lucas to get the scoop, even at the expense of putting innocents at risk.  I enjoyed that she broke molds in that aspect, however most of the time I found her infuriating.
  • Vullion was one of the best written and developed ‘bad guys’ I’d encountered in recent literary memory. It would give me the chills to read his calculating, meticulous chapters, however was there something in his life that triggered him to break from his rules and become predictable? Wouldn’t leaving notes be breaking of his rules? Or picking people he met at the courthouse?
  • I can’t decide if I will continue with the rest of the series because, as a prolific series, I suspect that the patterns will grow predictable as with other long series I’ve encountered like Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt novels. I went through a phase where I devoured as many of Cussler’s novels as I could get my hands on. Eventually I was left feeling rather unsatisfied with the constant exhausting pace of danger/escape/danger/escape/danger/escape. Should I let Rules of Prey last as an enjoyable read or continue Davenport adventure?


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