Picking up six months after “Naked Prey” the series continues with Lucas Davenport still with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BAC). Officially, he runs the Office of Regional Research within the BAC. Unofficially, he is the Governor's man for sticky problems where the worlds of politics and crime intersect. The murder of a Russian on the shores of Lake Superior has fast become a political problem and Davenport's talents are needed.
The dead man has finally been identified as Rodion Oleshev and he was shot three times—once in the heart and twice in the forehead. He died two weeks ago on a concrete slab next to a grain elevator on the shores of Lake Superior one night. The death of what apparently was at one time a KGB agent has become a major political problem. The dead man, not only was still a spy, but also was the son of a very high-ranking person in the Oil Ministry in Russia. The father has talked to Putin and the Russian Embassy has contacted the State Department. The ball has rolled downhill gathering steam and urgency and now Rose Marie Roux, Davenport's longtime boss, is handling the issue to Davenport. The Russians are sending someone to oversee the investigation and review it. Rose Marie wants Davenport to make sure that everything that could be done has been done and to make sure the Russian is happy. Send the Russian back home satisfied and make everyone look good, especially the BAC, because yet another budgetary cutback is in store for the new agency.
Davenport begins to investigate while awaiting the arrival of the Russian by talking to the Feds. The FBI is running the investigation, not as a homicide but as an intelligence operation trying to uncover possible Russian deep cover assets in the area. They have virtually nothing after two weeks and ask Davenport to share whatever information he uncovers in the course of his homicide investigation and not to blow their case. That is, if they can ever develop anything. With no leads and no suspects, a somewhat bored Davenport is thrilled with the prospects whether he wants to publicly admit it or not.
Despite political problems and other issues such as the real reasons the Russian has arrived, Davenport begins to make progress. Before long, Davenport is tearing up the countryside in search of suspects and John Sandford has this reader pulled deep into his view of the world once again. As in other novels of this series, almost everyone is back, a little older and a little wiser, and still very interested in getting all the bad guys no matter what. The case becomes more and more complex as secrets from before the cold war come to light.
This is another very good read from John Sandford and well worth your time. Most of the books in this series can't be read as stand alones. However, with just a couple of minor references to earlier novels in the series, this one certainly could be read as a stand alone and would serve as an excellent introduction to a strong series well worth reading.
This report prepared by Kevin R. Tipple
Putnam, May 2004, 26.95, 400 pp.
In Duluth, Trey witnesses Carl Walther kill a Russian sailor Rodion Oleshev. Carl notices the street person who observed his committing homicide, but she escapes. Later he sees her wearing that same telltale Czechoslovakian Army coat and kills her with a garrote. The dead sailor's father, a business mogul who controls oil machinery, insists justice occurs and uses his influence with various Russian power factions to ensure that the killer is dealt with.
Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Chief Lucas Davenport deals with difficult cases and the understanding that his boss the Governor must not look bad. He is assigned to work the Duluth homicide that has brought in the FBI “helping” the locals. Russian police officer Nadia Kalin is assigned as an observer. The group investigates the crime that takes them to an inactive communist cell that at one time assisted getting Russians in and out of the country back in the 1960s and 1970s. Someone in that cell will kill to keep secrets buried as more murders follow to insure that the group's identities remain protected.
John Sandford's latest police procedural connects homicides with a spy ring through a killer who is a victim too. The fast paced action enthralls the audience as the characters seem real especially when the audience catches glimpses into Lucas' personal life that includes keeping his cherished wife informed. He is a hero who loves his wife and infant son and has earned more than enough money to retire, but feels he owes society for his opportunities and remits his debts with his dedicated police work.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner