Book Review: Silent Prey by John Sandford

Hello, my lovely peeps🐥!

It’s been a long week, especially Tuesday!
But, we’re nearing the weekend and that’s always a cause for celebration.
For this week’s review, I’ll be talking about Silent Prey by John Sandford!

Book Title: Silent Prey
Series: Prey/Lucas Davenport Series Book # 4
Author: John Sandford
Length: 338 Pages (Paperback)
Published: 1 March 1993
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Mystery > Crime, Thriller, Thriller > Mystery Thriller, Suspense, Police Procedural, Action

Goodreads: >LINK<
Amazon: >LINK<

Dr. Mike Bekker, a psychotic pathologist, is back on the streets, doing what he does best-murdering one helpless victim after another. Lucas Davenport knows he should have killed Bekker when he had the chance. Now he has a second opportunity and the time to hesitate is through. 

***Spoilers for the previous book: Eyes of Prey
Usually each Prey or Virgil Flowers book can be read as a standalone (for certain with Virgil’s stories, now that I’m through with all current publications on that end, but I’m not sure with the further Davenport ones) with the only thing you miss being maybe references and character development through the series, but Silent Prey is different. There are things here that are major spoilers for the previous book, Eyes of Prey, especially the ending of that last book.

After about 16 Sandford books, split between the Virgil Flowers and the Lucas Davenport/Prey series, I think I’ve finally come across one that was lukewarm for me. It’s not quite as interesting as the first few in the Prey series and I think part of that comes down to how there’s a repeating antagonist, Bekker. Yep. Nuttier than a squirrel’s pre-hiberation meal, after his capture in Eyes of Prey, Bekker manages to escape and hides away in NYC where he continues to kill for his sick and twisted “research.” Serial killers will be serial killers and with his obsession with eyes being a signature of his, it’s not hard to track him down. Except, he’s a little different here. A genius will remain a genius, but while Silent Prey Bekker is just as smart, frustratingly elusive, and dangerous as Eyes of Prey Bekker, this Bekker continues the inevitable downward spiral that the previous Bekker started. Drugs. Don’t do them, kids.

He missed it. He didn’t miss the police department, with its meetings and its brutal politics. Just the hunt. And the pressure.

In this fourth installation of the series, Davenport is back at it again, but he’s no longer a cop. Instead, he’s loaning his skills and talents over in New York and helping the NYPD with tracking down Bekker, the serial killer having taken refuge in NYC, and people are getting pretty desperate with bringing him in, or down. The body count is starting to ramp up, the media chewing people up, and they need to put a stop to this ASAP! As if Davenport needs to be told twice. His vengeance against Bekker is personal. Somewhere in between this whole interstate insanity with the “Damn, should’ve killed him back when you got the chance, and now he’s here causing this mess” NYPD has a problem of their own with a vigilante taking people down; professional hits too clean for just a normal crime. They dub him, “Robin Hood” with just about as little detail as you can spare for leads. Something is fishy, and too many people seem to be hiding things to trust the police to handle this case.

Bekker is the most interesting person here. His gruesome crimes have moved states, but he’s still him and his obsession (and profound fear) of eyes remains the same. The only difference is, he’s so far gone with drugs that it’s like two different people. I thought he was downright nuts in Eyes of Prey already, but you haven’t seen him here. Completely desperate for escape and staying out of prison (where he would have no access to drugs) and still obsessively researching eyes and death, he’s nothing but a lunatic here. In Eyes of Prey he was the head of operations on a two-man team, the brains and the beauty to the “beast” (his acquaintance). Now, he’s flying solo, not trusting even his own shadow and unable to survive seconds without his drugs, and he’s got quite the rainbow running through his veins. At this point, even if he’s taken in, alive, he wouldn’t be going back to prison.

Bekker could count the drops, each and every one, as the shower played off his body. The ecstasy did that: two tiny pills. Gave him the power to imagine and count, to multiply outrageous feelings by ineffable emotions and come up with numbers . . .

The writing is something I’ve always loved in Sandford’s books. It’s wonderfully thrilling, but kept simple and to the point. You can occasionally find the most beautiful sentences with his prose. There’s no need for strings of text to describe the emotions just one of his sentences can provide. Here, though, the writing felt a little different from the previous book and I just can’t seem to place a finger on it. Now that Davenport’s no longer a cop, his old buddies and even street connections are gone. There are a few mentions here and there, not to mention him being in a different state, but the difference in writing and tone could be just the overhaul of characters and background support. It could also be character growth (Poor Davenport’s gone through the wringer in the last four books!) and development, or even just the new setting (NYC vs Minnesota).

Silent Prey is also quite dialogue heavy. However, I have no complaints on this end. Sandford’s characters, dialogues, and character interactions are my favorite and, for me, there’s no such thing as “too much dialogue” if it comes from him. Still, there’s way more of back and forth dialogue in this one book than I’ve ever seen before…in the 16 Sandford books I’ve read so far!

I really enjoyed the change of scenery, but I could be biased here because it takes place in a city I’m very familiar with. It’s fun to be able to recognize streets and neighborhoods as you come across them in the book, especially if it comes from the eyes of someone not from NYC. Davenport did originally feel like a bit of a misfit, a square squeezing through a round hole, this middle-of-nowhere hick from Minnesota lost in the big cities. People underestimated him until they realize he’s got the skills to back up all the stories. As much as I really missed Sloan and Del, it was fun to see him with this new band of characters, even if it’s temporary. The way the cops do things in NYC and even their criminals, compared to those in Minnesota, are so different, and I think even Davenport was overwhelmed at this change.

“The main thing is, there’s an infinite number of assholes. You never know where the shit is coming from. You can’t get an edge on anything. You can’t know about the place. Here, if somebody hijacks a goddamn Best Buy truck and takes off fifty Sonys, we got an idea where they’re going. Out there . . . Shit, you could make a list of suspects longer than your dick, and that’d only be the guys that you personally know might handle it. And then there are probably a hundred times that many guys that you don’t know. I mean, a list longer than my dick.”

Overall, this was a good book. I didn’t like (but didn’t dislike) that there was a repeating antagonist, but Bekker has spiraled so far into the depths of hell that he’s practically a different person and this did help slightly. His signatures have changed (just a bit), but he’s mad and nuttier than ever now. The side plot, of the Robin Hood case, felt like it was just there as a background thing to keep the story fresh. I did not care for it in the slightest, though the ending and how things connected and linked up did give me a jolt of joy. I do looove my twists and turns!

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Silent Prey by John Sandford

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