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Judgment Prey

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Judgement Prey

John Sanford returns with his latest Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers thriller.

I have been a fan of this series for decades, and in my opinion, this is the best story yet, as this unbeatable team takes on a horrific crime, the murder of a father and his two sons. What makes this storyline exceptional is that there are very few clues why this tragedy occurred, however Lucas and Virgil, still recovering from their last crime-solving adventure, are up to the challenge.

I found the plotline exceptional, particularly the desire for vengeance from the wife who came home to find her entire family murdered...

If you are not already a fan of this stellar series, and if you enjoy exceptional police procedurals, you won't want to miss this one!

For those new to the series, these books are written so that you can start with any book in the series (and this one is exceptional). You could always read this one first, and then either start from the beginning, or work your way back from the latest to the first, as there is no particular need to read these in order.

Until next time, when it comes to this series, if you are already a fan, you will find Judgement Prey captivating, and if you are new to this series, I bet that if you read this one, you will be back for more!

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John Sandford has been a favorite of mine for years. I love when he teams up Lucas Davenport with Virgil Flowers. They play off each other so well.

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Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers and BACK - teaming up to crack an unsolvable case. John Sandford's books are extremely predictable in format - which is lovely, like sinking into a comfortable bed with a book on a dreary day. You know what you're going to get, which in this case means cliffhangers, red herrings all over the place, and characters you've known and loved for decades.

This was a fun addition to the series and I would definitely recommend it.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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A fun continuation of Sandford’s likable and and eminently readable series. I read it in an afternoon!

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JUDGMENT PREY – by John Sandford

An intense murder mystery whodunit thriller that kept me entranced until around the midway point, a scene that had me scratching my head regarding how it played out.

Now. . . do not get me wrong, I am a fan of all books with flawed characters—which makes for an interesting, realistic, and admittedly frustrating read, wherein the depths of the narrative I am unable to resist the need/urge to Gibbs’ a character or two for the decisions they make.

That being said, two of the main characters in this book, former BCA Agent/Marshal Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers—seasoned members of Law Enforcement—do not strike as inept.

So, I am puzzled as to why during a key moment in the book, they treat the investigation(s) like a choose-your-own-adventure book with a metaphorical roll of the die instead of following the obvious, very tangible lead revealed by the person they are interviewing. Follow-up with said character comes later, after an abundance of what feels like filler.

Would I recommend this book after everything I said about it?


Why, you may ask?

Although, this book did not tick off all the boxes for me, overall, I still enjoyed the story, and Sandford’s books always keep me intrigued.

Thank you, NetGalley and G. P. Putnam’s Sons Publishing (Penguin Random House LLC), for providing me with an eBook of JUDGMENT PREY at the request of an honest review.

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I hope this series never ends! John Sandford never disappoints. I love Lucas and Virgil working together to solve cases. This book has action, mystery and the sense of humor I've come to love from John Sandford. I'm sure you can read this book without reading the rest of the series but I highly recommend you start with book one and dive into Lucas's story, you will not be disappointed!

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Another good story involving Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers. Lucas is recovering from the last case and the injuries that he had suffered from the shootout when he receives a call to go and just look at a murder scene. He calls Virgil and the two of them go of course as much as they want to say everything looks fine things begin to bother them and they decide to go back the next day and begin to look at everything their way, that is when they notice just one or two things out of place and then something just does not add up. And you are in for another great read and a good book. This again has good characters and a good story to keep you going to the last page. Very much worth the read.

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This book was amazing!! I love Lucas Davenport, and Virgil Flowers, together! The mystery kept me on the edge of my seat, a thrilling ride! I would highly recommend this book to everyone!

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Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on October 3, 2023

This is a Prey novel, so Lucas Davenport is the featured character. As is increasingly common in Prey novels, Virgil Flowers plays a nearly equal role. John Sandford published his last standalone Flowers novel in 2019. Since then, he’s published four Lucas Davenport and two Letty Davenport novels. Virgil can’t complain about a lack of love because he gets cameos in the Letty novels (just as Letty earned a cameo in this one) and is increasingly likely to be a co-star in the Lucas novels.

Virgil is hoping to transition away from law enforcement. He sold a novel that is about to be published and is working on another. Virgil tells Lucas that a writer told him that “books have three parts: the set-up and the climax, and then in the middle, the swamp.” Sandford is a master of the swamp — the characters and subplots that keep the reader entertained while awaiting the big reveal that drives mysteries or the final confrontation that drives thrillers.

The set-up in Judgment Prey is simple. Two boys and their dad are shooting hoops in the back yard. They go inside when it starts to rain. Someone in a hoodie follows them inside, shoots them all (not with the efficiency of a professional), spares a baby in a basinet, and leaves with their cellphones and laptops. The dad is a federal judge so the FBI joins the investigation. Lucas is asked to show the flag for the U.S. Marshals since protecting judges is part of their remit. Flowers shows up on behalf of the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The St. Paul police do most of the legwork but Davenport and Flowers team up to look for the clues that other cops miss.

The plot differs from many crime novels in that the killer’s identity is soon known to the reader. The novel is not a whodunit. Instead, the reveal explains the killer's motive, a key that must be unlocked before Lucas and Virgil can solve the crime.

The judge’s wife, Maggie Cooper, is understandably distraught and ultimately vengeful. She intends to find the killer and end his life. To that end, she receives moral support from her best friend, Ann Melton, with whom she occasionally has sex. Whether Maggie will kill the killer before Lucas and Virgil catch him, or whether he will add Maggie to his list of victims, is the source of the novel's dramatic tension.

The swamp involves the investigation of people who might have a motive to kill the judge, including criminals he has sentenced. Davenport and Flowers also look into a charitable organization that was expecting a donation from the judge. The organization turns out to be shady, leading to a collateral investigation that prompts a couple more murders. The killer also comes after

Characterization is typically built in the swamp. The have been so many Prey novels (not to mention Flowers novels) that the characters are now well known. The swamp instead gives them a chance to find new ways to insult each other. That never gets old.

The motive for killing the judge and his family struck me as unlikely, but people kill for unlikely reasons so I’ll give Sandford’s reveal a pass. Otherwise, the climax involves the kind of action that is common to Prey novels, complete with chases and gunplay. That climax doesn’t quite resolve the main plot, but a second climax does. All of this is great fun for a John Sandford fan, which presumably includes most readers who enjoy crime novels. Judgment Prey doesn’t stand out from the large stack of Prey novels, but even an average Prey novel is worth reading.


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I received a free advanced reader digital copy of “Judgment Prey” through Net Galley. My thanks to Net Galley, the author and publisher .
John Sanford has authored somewhere near thirty crime/ detective novels featuring the Minnesota cops Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers. All of them are entertaining reading , and this one is no exception. The novels have a fair amount of police procedural investigation, two appealing main and many sub characters who tend to be quirky, whose interaction with Lucas and Virgil crank high on the people say and do the strangest things list. The villains male, or female are nasty, cunning and brutal. Like I said: entertaining.
The plot in Judgement Prey requires close attention on the part of the reader because there are numerous tangents in the investigation. The book opens with with a horrible triple murder. A father and two pre- teen sons are shot dead in their suburban home by a masked, heavily shrouded intruder. Their baby girl lay in her crib nearby, unhurt, perhaps un- seen or unnoticed by the killer. Although a porch camera caught video of the killer, the only clue to whether the killer was male or female was an a size 11 boot print in blood near one body, and a generally bulky size. The wife and mother was away from the house with her close friend. Upon returning it was she who discovered the bodies. Of course she was distraught and unconsolable, it with the with the help of her friend’s comforting, the bereaved wife was able to talk with the officers.
Lucas’s and Virgil’s investigation eventually turns up mulitple threads to possible killers, but which one and why? Eventually, of course, the killer is found and is confronted which leads to a violent and satisfying resolution of the mystery. Except….
Except that after I finished the book,and some hours later, I began to re-think the last act of retributive violence a mistake. What did really happen ? Who did benefit from the killings? Read and see what you think.
So: Another very good crime novel by the author. A bit slow in the beginning and the cop buddies back and forth hatter between the two likable main characters got a bit too much of a good thing. Nevertheless, reading how Lucas and Virgil dig into the suspects’ backgrounds and alibis putting the pieces together to find the who pulled the trigger and why are the best parts of the book.
Cautions: shootings, blood and bodies. Lots of male humor and language , including a real groaner of a limerick.

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Thank you NetGalley for this advance reader copy, for my free and honest review. As always, John Sanford knows how to bring a thriller to the masses. Great storyline, excellent characters and character interactions. Love Lucas and Virgil and their partnership. Highly recommend!

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When I get a new book from one of my favorite authors, I tend to just dive in and start reading without spending much time thinking about the series it may be part of, or whether I liked the last released title, etc. And John Sandford is definitely one of my favorite authors, BUT. I came to realize the inconsistency of my opinions, noticing the last several titles my opinions were anything but consistent. Two prior releases, The Investigator and Dark Angel, both featured Letty Davenport, Lucas’s adopted daughter. I loved both, they were 5 stars for me. And not that many years ago, I wrote “I JUST realized that for the past several years, Sandford has released two books a year: A Lucas Davenport/Prey book in the spring, and a Virgil Flowers title in the fall. (Am I the only one who never realized this???). And although I have been less than thrilled with a couple of fairly recent titles, looking back I realize those were Flowers books, and the Lucas Davenport series has been more to my liking.”

The two most recent Davenport books (Masked Prey and Neon Prey) were solid four stars, while I found Bloody Genius and Holy Ghost (both of which featured Virgil Flowers) to be quite disappointing, with each earning only 2-3 stars. So when I received a copy of Judgment Prey from Penguin Group Putnam and Net Galley (in exchange for this honest review), I was finally thinking about a Sandford book BEFORE I started it, and wondering how a story featuring BOTH Lucas and Virgil would be…

Virgil Flowers is to Lucas Davenport as Joe Pike is to Elvis Cole, or as Clete Purcell is to Dave Robicheaux, or as Hawk is to Spenser. If that makes sense, you have likely read novels by Robert Crais (Pike/Cole) or James Lee Burke (Purcell/Robicheaux) as well as by John Sandford, for whom Lucas has been a solid character, working away in Minnesota, solving crimes in the “Prey” series – once again, he has the help of his buddy Virgil Flowers. Lucas, a former Minneapolis cop, now works for the U.S. Marshal’s Service, while Virgil works for the BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension). They work well together, although they sometimes drive members of other agencies nuts. This time, the FBI and St. Paul police are also involved, as they all try to solve a complex murder of a federal judge named Alex Sand and his two sons, ages 10 and 12.

The story starts with a shocking scene, as the three victims are gunned down in their home, while the wife/mother , Margaret Cooper, is out. The Sand-Cooper family is very wealthy, and had just been about to give a hefty donation ($100-150,000) to a local charity, and it looks like that may have been related to the murder.

There is a ton of public interest and pressure to solve the case, and Lucas and Virgil start to uncover leads where the local cops and the FBI have struck out. It’s twisty and puzzling, and well plotted. It doesn’t move at breakneck speed, but I was glued to it for 2 days, and enjoyed the storyline, the characters, and the surprises. Guess their working together improves both of them for me! Five stars.

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Having these two.characters Together again puts this book at the top of my love list
What can I say l simply think they are.the best.
I have been reading the series for so long
It's like.a letter from a.friend
So, what have you been up to lately?
Thank you so much for the opportunity

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A solid addition to the series, although this one didn't seem as fast paced and exciting to me as some of the others. I love the Davenport/Flowers team. I enjoyed the storyline and how it all came together.

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I am a fan of John Sandord's work so was delighted to receive an ARC of Judgement Prey, his most recent Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers novel from NetGalley and the publisher, G.P. Putnam's & Sons, however that in no way impacted my review. Jusgement Prey is an engrossing and highly intriguing read.. Alex Sand, a federal judge, and his two sons, 10 year old Arthur and 12 year old Blaine, were brutally killed in their St.Paul, Minnesota home after a rousing game of basketball. His daughter, in her nursery, at the time was spared. His wife, Maggie Cooper, a professor at the University of Minnesota, was not home at the time of the tragedy. There are any number of potential suspects; could it be a former defendent sentenced by the judge, a personal enemy with a vendetta, a student of Maggie's, a law associate...etc.? Davenport and Flowers are called in to assist with this high profile case. Judgement Prey is one of my favorite books in the series, aside from the action, suspense and occasional chaos, the repartee between Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers is often out-loud laughable. I highly recommend Judgement Prey. 4.5 stars.

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My favorite author, back with my favorite two characters.
An auto-buy series, no question about it.

Lucas and Virgil are back, working together, to look into the death of a federal judge. It was an interesting story, not as explosive in action as previous titles, but was a great read anyway. I look forward to the next Prey release every year and makes me happy to see these two still kicking.

There was a main plot and a side plot, and I enjoyed both, more so toward the side case. Loved the ending and liked the progression of one of the characters. I'll be picking up a physical copy next time I'm in the store.

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Oh John Sandford and Lucas Davenport! It's hard to believe this series has been going on since 89! This is an auto buy, auto read, auto five stars.

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Thank you NetGalley for the eARC of Judgment Prey by John Sandford. I always look forward to the next installment in the Prey series. Add Virgil Flowers and it definitely goes to the top of my TBR pile. This was not my favorite in the series mostly due to the case they were trying to solve. I really couldn't buy into it. I also did not care for any of the other characters in the book, lacked a lot of depth for me.
The abrupt ending is what made this one drop from 4 to 3 stars. I actually thought the last chapter was missing pages, such a let down.

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.John Sandford is one of my auto-buy authors. I have read every Prey novel and Virgil Flowers novel and I have enjoyed them all. I love how Mr. Sandford has developed and evolved Lucas and Virgil through the years. The books in these series are all so well-written. About halfway through the series, 30-plus Prey and 12-plus Virgil novels, I started listening to the audio versions instead of reading the book. As the long-time Prey narrator, Richard Ferrone has passed away, I was scared to listen to this first release with a different narrator, Robert Petkoff. With big shoes to fill, Mr. Petkoff does a great job. I highly recommend this book, whether reading in print or listening on audio, as always is the case with Sandford's novels, this book checks all the boxes for me. He sets the bar in the police procedural/thriller genre.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for giving me an advanced digital copy. All opinions are my own

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Sanford is a master storyteller and never disappoints. This novel had me gripping the pages, or rather my tablet from early on and kept me enthralled to the last turn of the page.

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