Saturday, December 21, 2019

Book Reviews: Neon Prey

Neon Prey
by John Sandford
This is another installment in the Lucas Davenport series. It is very similar to a previous book in that series, Golden Prey, reviewed here. The Cliff Notes version of this series is that Lucas Davenport, an independently wealthy and politically connected US Marshal decides which cases to take. Davenport usually chases the most dangerous and violent felons. 

Lucas is often assisted in his cases by the salt and pepper team of US Marshals Rae Givens and Bob Matees. Rae and Bob are good (platonic) friends with each other. They are more down to earth with more street experience than Lucas. They often good naturedly point out flaws in some of Lucas' plans. But there's nobody that Lucas would rather have watching his back when it goes down hard.

In this installment a scary and racist Louisiana based loan shark collector, enforcer,and hitman named Clayton Deese is tasked by his affable boss, lawyer, loan shark, and businessman Roger Smith to put a highly specific hurting on someone who owes Roger money. This time, Roger doesn't want the victim dead. 

Roger still has hopes of recovering his money. The problem is that the victim has not only refused to pay his debts but has also publicly told Roger to commit unpleasant and impossible acts of auto-copulation. Roger can't let that go. Other debtors might decide not to pay. Other criminals could conclude that a weak Roger can be chased from the business or even forcibly, painfully and permanently "retired". 

So Roger orders Clayton to make an example so that everyone can see what happens when you **** with Roger. It's nothing Clayton hasn't done before. Clayton's only concern is that he's not supposed to kill his target. He would much prefer to do that.

But this time, things go wrong. Clayton gets a little sloppy. He goes a little overboard. Worse there are witnesses. Arrested, Clayton makes bond thanks to his boss, but then disappears. Roger didn't necessarily want this even though the authorities are more interested in Roger than in Clayton, whom they view as small time. 

When Rae and Bob dutifully visit Clayton's home to see if he's there or if they can find clues on his whereabouts, they get the surprise of their lives. Clayton's not only a small time enforcer and occasional hitter, he's a serial killer and cannibal! 

There are bodies buried across Clayton's swamp property. Some of them are people murdered on Roger's orders. But more of them appear to be people Clayton murdered just because. And some of the remains have been cannibalized. This gets everyone's attention, including the FBI's and Lucas's.

In the meantime Clayton has hooked up with a crew of Los Angeles home invasion specialists, including among others his half brother Marty, Marty's sexy girlfriend Geenie Cox, the seemingly unimpressive John Cole, and Jayden Nast, a Black man who really doesn't like cops. Lucas and his team stay on their trail, often just missing them. Clayton and Roger have become distrustful of each other. Roger sends another of his specialists to track Clayton down and end the problem, peacefully or not.

I liked how this story depicted the same incidents from the point of view of the cops, the criminals and occasionally from people who were just caught in between. Clayton and his friends are NOT antiheroes, even though a few of them think they are. None of them are nice people. Clayton's not as stupid as he looks but he is FAR more vicious. 

This was a quick read but I didn't think the characters, at least those of law enforcement, were as engaging as they should have been. As before with this author I enjoyed the cunning cat and mouse game of search and surveillance. Everyone is fully aware of tracking, phone tapping, GPS locators, DNA identifiers, where the exits are, counter surveillance, and so on. 
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