Okay, we’re back, and what better way to return than with a book review? Don’t answer that. I’m returning with a book review.
Too bad! You get Lucas Davenport!
I started Rules of Prey on the 27th of November this year. It took until December 23rd to finish it. Why? Well, it might have had something to do with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Or it could have been laziness. Or the whoosh of passing holidays. Or pitching articles to Cracked.com. Or the circus I didn’t go to, or overeating, or oversleeping, or caffeine overdoses or holiday stomachaches.
It’s none of those. The truth is, despite the fact that objectively and even subjectively, Rules of Prey was a great crime suspense novel, for some reason or other, I just couldn’t fall through into the world of Lucas Davenport and the maddog killer. I’d read a chapter, easily put the book down, and not come back to it for days or even weeks. Finally, realizing how badly this book was throwing my metrics (my normal cover-to-cover for a book I read is between 2-5 days), I just sat down and forced it out on the second day of my winter holiday.
And it was a great read. As a gamer, I love the touch that Lucas Davenport is a pen and paper game developer. The fact that he had a drafting table in his house reminded me that people at one point used drafting tables for game design. Can you imagine? I can’t. The 80s were a weird and magical place full of low-tech jobs, payphones and mullets. Sadly, I pictured Lucas Davenport with a mullet. I couldn’t help it. He’s a loose-cannon cop in the 80s.
The premise of the book, an intellectual killer who follows precise rules, is excellent and gripping. The plot is tight, suspenseful, and at times, humorous. Lucas Davenport and maddog are both interesting lenses through which to view the world. Other than cleverly capturing the feel and banter of a precinct office, the side characters felt weak — I particularly had trouble sympathizing with the female characters in the story, the ones whom we really get to know seeming mainly there to show the reader how fucking hottastic Lucas Davenport is. Other than that, they seem to have all the usefulness of a parka in Tahiti, and half the sense.
Prosewise, I actually like John Sandford’s use of the language, except for one tic. When he’s writing action sequences, it seems like he can’t ever put a period in there, and then he writes another action, and then another action, and it just gets jumbled and feels rushed and flowing together rather than feeling staccato and punchy, and it just really kind of gets to me is all. My personal preference with action is to take the long, flowy sentences and make them brief and biting. His way just didn’t work for me, but then again, I did finish the book, and I am giving it a good review, so how badly could that have affected me? Besides, as I’m perfectly happy to tell any language-nut, in popular fiction, it’s the story that counts, not tight attention to the mechanics of prose (prose-mindedness is a bonus, not a primary prerogative).
Anyways, if you’re more of a crime suspense reader than me, read this. It’s a great book, and definitely outstanding from its genre. Even if the genre isn’t your normal stomping grounds, you’ll probably enjoy it. I mean, I’m no crime suspense reader, and I liked it well enough. I’m giving this a biased-downward 6/10, on the basis that I don’t read this genre ever.
Get Rules of Prey here.