When a spring thaw disinters the body of a young woman who's been missing for over a year, Minneapolis detective Lucas Davenport doesn't have much to go on except the victim's rumored connection with an unnamed man, who may be an artist and also, perhaps, a priest. But then the deserted property where her body was discovered turns out to be a killing field full of other young blondes last seen in the company of a man with a nasty habit of superimposing their faces on pornographic drawings. Davenport begins to close in on a serial killer whose perverted hobby provides the clues Davenport needs to stop him in his bloody tracks. James Qatar isn't a priest, and he's not really an artist, but he's definitely a monster, one who's met his match in Davenport.
Davenport is a smart, thoughtful cop whose girlfriend is pressuring him to make a commitment to parenthood and whose boss is about to lose her job in a political turnover. While the search for the killer is handled in author John Sandford's usual, crisp, procedural style, it almost seems to be a pretext for exploring the evolution of Davenport's relationship with Dr. Weather Karkinnen. This 12th adventure in the author's popular Prey series will undoubtedly rocket to the top of the bestseller list, though it's not a standout. The novel displays the solid craftsmanship and narrative drive Sandford's known for, but his hero seems a little dispirited and out of sorts. Perhaps fatherhood will give Davenport a new lease on life. In the meantime, check out Sandford's backlist featuring his other hero, Kidd (The Fool's Run, The Empress File, The Devil's Code), who has a nice little walk-on here in which he begins a romance with Davenport's partner Marcy Sherrill. --Jane Adams