Book Review: Ocean Prey by John Sandford

The last book in the series and now it’s a long wait before my next Virgil Flowers adventure *sob*!

Hello my lovely peeps🐥!
Today’s the last review of my little Sandford/Virgil Flowers reading binge and it’s Ocean Prey by John Sandford. It is the 13th book in the Virgil Flowers series and the 31st book in the Prey series. Funny enough, I ended up borrowing the Kindle version and moved over to it (from the hardcover) because I guess I received a copy with a printing error(😅). The book ends mid-sentence in Chapter 30 (two chapters short of the actual book).

At least, according to my brother, I now own a signed limited edition!

Book Description

Title: Ocean Prey
Series: Virgil Flowers & Prey Book # 13 & 31
Author: John Sandford
Edition: Physical > Paperback, E-Book > Kindle (Libby/Overdrive)
Length: 431 Pages
Genre/s: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Police Procedural

Blurb (Goodreads)

An off-duty Coast Guardsman is fishing with his family in the Atlantic just off south Florida when he sees, and then calls in, some suspicious behavior in a nearby boat. It’s a snazzy craft, slick and outfitted with extra horsepower, and is zipping along until it slows to pick up a surfaced diver . . . a diver who was apparently alone, without his own boat, in the middle of the ocean. None of it makes sense unless there’s something hinky going on, and his hunch is proven correct when all three Guardsmen who come out to investigate are shot and killed.

They’re federal officers killed on the job, which means the case is the FBI’s turf. When the FBI’s investigation stalls out, Lucas Davenport of the U.S. Marshals Service gets a call. The case turns even more lethal and Davenport needs to bring in every asset he can find, including a detective with a fundamentally criminal mind: Virgil Flowers.


The thirteenth book in the Virgil Flowers series and the 31st in the Prey/Lucas Davenport series, this is the first book where two of my favorite characters work together on a case and was probably my most anticipated 2020 read. By the time I was about four chapters in, however, I was beginning to worry because, (obviously, with “Prey” in the title), this was looking to be more of a Davenport book than a Virgil book, which is totally fine, except that (while I’m all caught up in the Virgil Flowers series) in the Prey series, I’m only up to around book three (which I was reading alongside Ocean Prey). My fear had been that 1) I wasn’t going to see much of Virgil in action and 2) I’m so far behind in the Prey series, that I feared missing major character development notes and characters.

But…I was worried for nothing. Just a bit further in, Virgil does come in and kicks ass as he gets to experience working as a US Marshal for the first time. As for major character development, I actually found it very entertaining to read this while I read book three of the Prey series (it’s kind of neat to see the difference between [younger] Davenport and current Davenport!)

The book starts off with a Coast Guard who had been sailing in his boat with his wife and baby when he sees something suspicious and calls it in to his boss who dispatches a few guys to go investigate. The three Coast Guards barely come close to the suspicious boat and its occupants before they’re promptly shot and killed, with the antagonists making a quick getaway. The original Coast Guard, who is still with his family, a ways back, knows something is off and pursues the fleeing killers and while doesn’t manage to catch them, he does kill one, and it’s just enough to get the start of the case rolling.

Lucas Davenport no longer works with the BCA but rather with the US Marshal Service and his help is requested, though it’s up to him to pick up the case or not. He does take it on, but mostly to help run the street side of it, what with his experience with that and all. When something awful happens, it shakes Davenport to his core and it’s a little while before he’s back on his feet, but this time he calls Virgil in to help.

The book essentially separates in different months, showing that this case spans for quite a while. The first half is mostly Davenport centric while the second part focuses on both Davenport and Virgil with Virgil acting undercover, placing him in a very dangerous position. Anything can go wrong and with the enemies and killers, this time, being the Mafia, the danger is only magnified! There are several people already, throughout the book, that “go away” as the killers and Mafia start to clean up their trails and it’s terrifying to know that anyone related to the case can just potentially up and disappear. You can’t trust anyone, not even a person eating in the next table over at a diner, because who knows if they’re connected to the big boss or not.

“Damn straight,” Regio said. “Don’t even think about hocking that gear and running back to Iowa. We got guys in Iowa.”

This book started out a little slow and the FBI aren’t getting anywhere in the case, which is where the Marshals had to step in offering their help. You’d think that, like back in Bloody Genius where the charge cop was none too pleased to receive Virgil’s help (because it would make the police department look bad were he to crack a case that stumped them), you’d get a similar reaction from the FBI supervising agent, but no, agent Weaver is quite happy to receive anything at this point because their leads and investigation are leading them nowhere. Davenport goes off to start his investigation, slowly and easy does it at first, with his buddy and fellow Marshal, Bob, until something awful happens that knocks both Davenport, his whole team, and the FBI way off course and it’s a bit before everybody collects themselves again and Virgil joins in on the show followed by Rae, another fellow Marshal.

This book could definitely be read as a standalone, which had been my original worry. Sure, there may be developments in the last few books that could explain some traits or give you some insight to references mention in Ocean Prey, but you’re fine reading this on its own. Characters are properly introduced, so you wouldn’t be missing them if they were reoccurring characters. I personally enjoyed Rae a lot and by the end I think even Virgil, who works with her for the first time here, is in love with how good of a cop she is. They work fantastically as a pair, watching each other’s back and catching subtle cues between each other.

In comparison to the Virgil Flowers books, this was something new that I think I quite enjoyed. Most, if not all, of the settings in the Virgil Flowers books are in the cold and icy state of Minnesota, but here, we’re all over the place from New Jersey and New York to Florida! As a resident of NY, there were even places I recognized in the Tri-State area (always neat to see books set near where you live).

Manhattan always smelled like week-old sour buttered popcorn to Lucas, but he usually visited in late spring or early autumn; on this day in January, with the temperature hovering around twenty, it smelled like week-old sour cold-buttered ice.

The following book is slated for later this year and is another duo Virgil and Davenport adventure. I think Virgil might have taken quite a liking to this Marshal work and I definitely am looking forward to more from him, Davenport, and Rae!

Ocean Prey‘s ending was pretty good as well and left me with a book hangover, missing the warmth of the adrenaline coursing through my vain that lasted through most of the last ten chapters. Another awesome book from John Sandford!

Time for some golden eggs! Ocean Prey by John Sandford gets…

5 Shiny Shiny Eggs!


6 thoughts on “Book Review: Ocean Prey by John Sandford

  1. […] Not much of a surprise here. I’ve been reading a lot of standalone books and starting new series lately, but of the series that I have started (and continued on), there’s one that I will always find my nose in: The Virgil Flowers series. Ocean Prey, however, is a combination of John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers series and his Lucas Davenport (Prey Series) books and was probably one of my favorite reads of the year. I loved it so much, I ended up buying it a second time as a paperback to my hardcover. Before you judge me, though, it’s also because the hardcover I got was misprinted and missing the last two chapters. Check out my review here! […]


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