In Association with

Author of the Month

Name: John Sandford

First book: Rules of Prey

Most Recent Book: Broken Prey

‘…the format spurs you on to read deep into the night and still say to yourself, ‘Oh, just a couple more pages!’ I loved this book.’


Sloan contacts his friend, Lucas Davenport, when the body of a woman is found on a riverbank. Some time later a second body, this time of a man, is discovered in an isolated farmhouse. They were both mercilessly beaten with some kind of whip, before having their throats slit. Both had been sexually assaulted. A DNA sample is found at the crime scene and leads Lucas to a sexual offender called Charlie Pope. Charlie’s movements are monitored through an electronic ankle bracelet. However, it soon transpires that the bracelet has been dumped and Pope has vanished. Lucas and Sloan set out to find someone they must treat as a madman.

As they speak to people about Charlie Pope, he doesn’t seem to fit Lucas’ colleague and friend, Elle’s profile of the man they are dealing with. However, there is the DNA and there is no way that could be wrong. Or could it? Their investigation leads them to a hospital where Charlie was detained. It is there that they meet the ‘Big Three’ and that is when things really start to spiral out of control…



This crime novel starts off at a cracking speed and never lets up. It is relentless in chronicling the events that lead Lucas and Sloan to the dynamic ending. Not only do you get to follow the investigation, you also get caught up in Lucas’ debate over the Top 100 Best Songs of the Rock Era! The writing is crisp and fast paced and the pages fly past. The writing style is simple, so don’t expect Jane Austen, but it does grip you by the proverbial throat and simply drags you along for an excellent rollercoaster ride.

The chapters are not too long, but the writing is set out in such a way that the format spurs you on to read deep into the night and still say to yourself, ‘Oh, just a couple more pages!’ I loved this book. It is certainly one for the beach where you can put out your towel, put on some sun lotion and sit back and spend a few hours in the company of Lucas Davenport.

Reviewed by C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating



1) How would you describe your books?
A combination of police procedural and police thriller with an occasional touch of noir. I do not attempt finely detailed realism, because I'm more interested in the velocity of the story, the rush to the climax. My main character, though somewhat cynical, is not one of those officers trapped in his job -- he likes what he does. He likes chasing criminals, he's very good at it, and he's been rewarded for it. He also likes to fight, he likes women, he likes fast cars and Italian suits.

2) What is your favourite crime read of all time?
I don't have one -- rather, I have many favourites. But if you were to put a gun to my head, and threaten to shoot me unless I blurted out a title, I might say "Angel Heart" by William Hjortsberg. Although I'm not a fan of the actor Mickey Rourke, the book was made into a rather good movie with Rourke in the lead, and with an outstanding cast behind him. But the movie was not as good as the book; the book literally filled me with dread.

3) Would you describe yourself as a crime fan and if so, which authors do you most admire and why?
Yes, I am a fan, and I read lots of crime fiction. I like Michael Connolly, Carl Hiaasen, Robert Parker and Robert Crais, Randy Wayne White, Chuck Logan, Theresa Monsour, Jim Born, James Lee Burke and many more. I probably read fifty a year. I also read a lot of historical fiction (Bernard Cornwell, George MacDonald Fraser, Patrick O'Brian) and adventure fiction.

4) Without giving away the solution, which book included your favourite plot twist of all time?
I've never been exactly sure what is meant by a twist; I don't like sudden unexpected changes of direction without an underlying structure. If forced to go with a twist...perhaps the "Hound of the Baskervilles"

5) There has always been speculation of a ‘friendly’ rivalry between Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. Which of these two writers’ novels do you prefer and why?
Agatha Christy. Wimsey was a twit. Poirot wasn't.

6) Who, in your eyes, is pushing the boundaries of crime fiction today – and why?
Michael Gruber -- he's working an area that combines anthropology, the occult, and crime. Police procedural with credible witches.

7) What is your favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
Silence of the Lambs. An excellent novel and almost a perfect crime movie. Another Thomas Harris novel, Red Dragon, was made into "Manhunter" about twenty years ago, another excellent movie. I prefer it to the later "Red Dragon."

8) Where do you see crime fiction going next?
I don't know, but I see a decline of the straight police thriller -- the murder or murders, followed by the explosive investigation. I think the new crime fiction will require the thriller elements, but also something more, and perhaps something with an intellectual quality. Michael Gruber, mentioned above, provides some of that, as does Carl Hiaasen. Politics might be an area; perhaps medicine and science or even religion. There will always be the crime lying beneath the surface, but a stick-up and shooting isn't going to work much longer...On the other hand, I also believe that the brilliant-rich-man-kills-the-sexy-woman genre can always be done over, and in interesting ways.