Rules of Prey

John Sandford, Author
John Sandford, Author Putnam Adult $16.95 (317p) ISBN 978-0-399-13465-4
Reviewed on: 07/06/1989
Release date: 07/01/1989
Making his fiction debut, ``Sandford,'' a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist using a pseudonym, has taken a stock suspense plot--a dedicated cop pursuing an ingenious serial killer--and dressed it up into the kind of pulse-quickening, irresistibly readable thriller that many of the genre's best-known authors would be proud to call their own. A killer who calls himself the ``maddog'' has been murdering Minneapolis women, seemingly without pattern or motive. The crimes are linked only by their brutality and by the slayer's ``signature'': at each scene, he leaves a written rule of crime, such as ``Never kill anyone you know,'' or ``Never carry a weapon after it has been used.'' Into the case comes Lucas Davenport, a policeman with five kills in the line of duty, a surefire sense of how to handle the thirsty media and strong instincts about the killer's psyche. Sandford offers no mystery here; the killer's identity is revealed in the first pages, and the suspense comes in waiting for him or Davenport to slip up. Despite one or two beginner's mistakes (an overly obvious red herring, a character inconsistency), the author knows his territory well; the result is a police procedural as effective as it is brutal. The author's second thriller under his own name (John Camp) will be issued by Holt in September. BOMC featured selection; Mysterious Book Club alternate. (July)
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