Book review: Judgement Prey by John Sandford

Sunday, October 1, 2023 Permalink

I was very excited to see Judgement Prey by John Sandford pop up for review that I let it leap-frog over a heap of other books. And I’m even blessing it with a review on my much-esteemed website 😉 rather than just on Goodreads even though I only had an electronic copy. Because I freakin’ loved this book. I’m almost tempted to give it 4.5 stars except I was a smidge disappointed by the actual ‘who’ part of the whodunnit. It wasn’t left-field but let’s just say we weren’t given some of the clues we needed earlier and I do prefer an even playing field when it comes to the big reveal / finger-pointing thing.

Book review: Judgement Prey by John SandfordJudgment Prey
by John Sandford
Series: Lucas Davenport #33, Virgil Flowers #15
Published by Simon & Schuster UK
on 03/10/2023
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 1398523909
Pages: 395

Alex Sand was spending the evening at home playing basketball with his two young sons when all three were shot in cold blood. A wealthy federal judge, there’s no short list of people who could have a vendetta against Sands, but the gruesome murders, especially that of his children, turn their St. Paul community on its head. Sand was on the verge of a major donation to a local housing charity, Heart/Twin Cities, and with the money in limbo, eyes suddenly turn to his grieving widow, Margaret Cooper, to see what she might do with the money. Margaret (Maggie), distraught over the death of her family, struggles to move forward, and can’t imagine how or why anyone would target her husband.

With public pressure mounting and both the local police force and FBI hitting dead end after dead end, Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers are called in to do what others could not: find answers. With each potential lead flawed, Davenport and Flowers are determined to chase every theory until they figure out who killed the Sands. But when they find themselves being stonewalled by the most unlikely of forces, the two wonder if perhaps each misdirection could lead them closer to the truth.

It’s wonderful to see Lucas and Virgil (Davenport and Flowers) pairing up again. I was a bit critical of one of Sandford’s novels a few years ago (despite usually enjoying both men’s series) but the last couple I’ve read have been great and this one most certainly is. Lucas and Virgil have come a long way since their creation and I think Sandford’s developed a really good balance between their personal lives and their work lives. Their work and their jobs don’t exist in a vacuum but neither are their personal lives so messy or consuming that the case gets lost amidst the noise. And I read A LOT of series and am conscious that balance is not always easy to navigate.

Lucas is not yet officially back on duty with the US Marshalls (after being shot) when he’s asked to take a look at a case. On that note I have to say it was jarring but probably important that Sandford introduces us very briefly to the judge and his two sons before the opening murders. The utter waste of life really hit home for me.

There’s a lot happening but Sandford doesn’t overly complicate things so the main plot (and justice for our victims) doesn’t get lost.

The judge has obviously made some enemies over his lifetime so there are a few suspects, there’s also an overenthusiastic charity pressuring Maggie to meet or better the huge financial commitment her husband had made to them, and then there’s Maggie’s obsessive desire to make the killer pay.

Obviously I’m a fan of both detectives here and have been for some time. I like that they’re being written in a way that they recognise each other’s strengths but still take the piss out of each other at times. There’s no competitiveness and one would certainly let the other know if they overstep or are out of line. There’s a reason Lucas and Virgil have been around for 33 and 15 adventures respectively.

Judgement Prey by John Sandford was published in Australia by Simon & Schuster and is now available.

I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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