The 13th title in the Prey series (Easy Prey, etc.) has wealthy Minneapolis Deputy Police Chief Lucas Davenport in up to his Porsche-driving fingertips. Lucas is trying to track an elusive serial killer while reuniting with former fiancée Weather Karkinnen who—after a couple of years' estrangement following her narrow escape from a crazy biker in one of Lucas's former cases—has suddenly decided she wants to have his baby. Weather is a formidable distraction, but the killer—revealed to readers from the beginning as James Qatar, a suave professor of art history with a yen for strangulation—proves to require even more attention. Soon after the body of a young blonde is found in a partially excavated grave on a remote wilderness hillside, a deputy sheriff from backwater Wisconsin shows up with a file containing case histories of several women reported missing in Wisconsin and Minnesota over a nine-year period. Fearing the worst, Lucas orders the hillside surveyed; subsequent excavation uncovers seven more bodies. The art world connections of some of the victims and the discovery of pornographic drawings suggests a link to the art community around the local Catholic university. As the net tightens, the usually coolheaded Qatar, already plotting the fate of a daring fabric artist in cahoots with the police, gradually loses control. With Lucas and his team watching his every move, he eludes surveillance and carries out a final desperate attack. Sandford is in top form here, his wry humor and his development of Lucas's combative, affectionate relationship with Weather lighting up the dark of another grisly investigation. Simultaneous audio. (May)
Forecast:Sandford's thrillers are reliably excellent, and his latest, a BOMC main selection backed by a national ad/ promo campaign and an author tour, marks a high point in the Prey series. The book should hit #1 its first week out.