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Book Corner                                                                     June 10, 2004
       
                                      

HIDDEN PREY
By John Sandford;  Putnum Publishers, 2004

Reviewed by Dr. Susan K. Hedahl

            Sandford's latest mystery novel has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for Fiction only a week and already stands at the #2 slot.  This is the fifteenth novel in his detective series; all the novels' titles distinguished by some adjectival preface of the word "Prey." 

            Sandford is the pseudonym for Pulitzer prizewinning journalist, John Camp.  The novels are police procedurals and are all based in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. Clearly Sandford knows his beat.  As one librarian noted, "He correctly names all the roads and directions."  In this latest work, detective/protagonist Lucas Davenport takes on the death of a Russian visitor in the Duluth harbor area. 

            This book, like the others, shows Sandford dealing with a variety of social, political and societal issues.  His characters, as well as the plot, grow, change and provide the unexpected.

The female and male characters are both strongly drawn. As a reader of mystery novels and their sub-genres, I am always intrigued by the moral universe, which the author describes.  Sandford writes his with wit, sarcasm, realism and compassion.

            While not in this particular book, the word "Lutheran" sometimes is subtly sounded throughout this entire series. (Such as one plush Minneapolis home containing a stained glass window in the living room, which the author describes as being from a Lutheran church in the Dakotas that went out of business).

            In a world that is laced with multiples examples of violence and despair, Sandford provides a good read which describes those who break the law and those who attempt to enforce it---and what that means for the rest of us in our varied communal contexts.