By John Sandford
Thorndike Press, Large Print Edition (2010)
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - June 7, 2010
This is the twenty-second book in John Sandford's Prey series, which focus on the adventures of Lucas Davenport, although this volume seemingly gives more attention to the criminals and to Lucas' wife, the surgeon Weather Karkinnen, who together with many other professionals, is involved in separating two Siamese twin babies. Lucas is not in total control of the murder case, he makes mistakes. For example, a woman is killed when he fails to stop an escaping man and he believes the explanation of the brother of a criminal while we know that the man is lying. John Sandford's signature exclamations "Ah, Christ," "Aw, man," "Aw, no," and the like, seem to appear too frequently, reflecting on Lucas' competence and Sandford's overuse of such phrases.
A non-too-smart Lebanese ER physician at Weather's hospital is overusing drugs and is out of money. He persuades some bungling low-level crooks to steal about a half million dollars worth of drugs from the hospital pharmacy. They do so, but, the theme of this volume seemingly being incompetency, accidentally kill one of the pharmacists. While dashing away in a car, they pass Weather who is arriving for the twin's operation. Weather sees and is able to identify one of the bunglers. The crooks decide, among other dumb ideas, to kill Weather so that they would remain unidentified. "My friend," one of them says to another, "you are smarter than you look," and this emphasizes how dumb they really are.
Virgil Flowers, Lucas' assistant and the protagonist of three excellent Sandford novels, plays a role in the book, protecting Weather, but shows little or none of the flare that made him such an enjoyable character in the three Flowers books. Just after the middle of the book, we read: "Virgil Flowers had the sense that things were out of control, that they didn't know what was going on. He could see the same worry reflected in Lucas."
All in all, this mystery lacks the usual humor of the Sandford mysteries, the bungling mars our desire to identify with Lucas, and the story lacks suspense.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.