John Sandford brings his tense ‘Prey’ thriller series to the Bee Book Club

Scanned cover of Extreme Prey by John Sandford
Scanned cover of Extreme Prey by John Sandford

The “mystery” sections in bookstores are jammed with novels by hundreds of authors who specialize in taking readers down figurative dark corridors and along twisting paths. So many thrills and chills – and, sometimes, so much redundancy.

For something unique, one of our go-to’s has long been the 26-title “Prey” series by New York Times bestselling author John Sandford. Its “star” is streetwise loner Lucas Davenport, whose new adventure, “Extreme Prey,” is the Bee Book Club’s choice for April (Putnam, $29, 416 pages; on sale April 26).

Over the course of the series, beginning with “Rules of Prey” in 1989, Davenport transitioned from a rogue lieutenant with the Minneapolis Police Department to an iconoclastic deputy chief with his own on-the-edge police posse. He moved on to become a special investigator for Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension – with troubleshooting forays for the governor of Minnesota thrown into the mix.

Finally fed up with the bureaucracy and politics of police work, Davenport quit his job at the end of “Gathering Prey,” book No. 25. “A combination of personality conflict and paperwork had finally done what street work hadn’t been able to do – push him out,” Sandford writes at the start of “Extreme Prey.”

In that new novel, we discover the independently wealthy (computer games) Davenport has spent the summer renovating his lakeside vacation home. He’s almost finished when he gets a call from Minnesota governor Elmer Henderson, who he “somewhat trusts.” Seems Henderson is on the campaign trail for the Democratic national vice-presidential nomination, and wants Davenport to get to the bottom of a “troubling incident.” Three murders later – and a botched attempt on Davenport’s life – the action continues and the tension ratchets up.

In 2011, “NCIS” star Mark Harmon portrayed Davenport in the made-for-TV movie “Certain Prey,” a smash hit. Asked at the time why he took the role, Harmon said, “(Davenport) is an interesting guy. He’s a very successful businessman who dresses nice and drives nice cars, and yet what he likes more than any of it is just being a cop. Then there’s the other side of it, which is (the darkness). I mean, he’s as nasty as anybody he’s chasing.”

Sandford’s written world is expansive, and includes the nine-tittle “Virgil Flowers” crossover series (“Escape Clause” is due in October), in which Davenport interacts with investigator Flowers, bringing their fictional worlds together. Also, he has the four-title “Kidd and LuEllen” series, the “Singular Menace” trilogy, three stand-alone novels and two books of nonfiction.

John Sandford is the pseudonym of former journalist John Camp, 72, who wrote for the Miami Herald and the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1980 and won it in 1986 for a series of articles dealing with the farm crisis in the Midwest. He left journalism in 1990 for a career as a novelist. Sandford is passionate about archaeology, painting, photography, fishing and hunting.

Visit the author at

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe

New details for Bee Book Club

John Sandford will appear for The Bee Book Club at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 28 in The Hive at The Sacramento Bee, 2100 Q St., Sacramento. Parking is free.

We have changed admission for the event – it is no longer free. You need to purchase a ticket. Tickets are $15 for seven-day-a-week subscribers, $25 for general admission. Buy tickets online at Please bring your ticket to the event for entrance.

All proceeds benefit The Bee’s News In Education (NIE) program, bringing news and information to more than 20,000 students in the region.

“Extreme Prey” (Putnam, $29, 406 pages) will be offered for 30 percent off the list price through April 28 at these bookstores: In the Sacramento area at the four Barnes & Nobles, Avid Reader at the Tower, Underground Books, Time Tested Books and Sac State’s Hornet Bookstore. In Davis at Avid Reader and UC Davis Bookstore; in El Dorado Hills at Face in a Book; and in Grass Valley at The Bookseller.

Barnes & Noble will be at the Bee Book Club event, selling “Extreme Prey” at 30 percent off, as well as some of John Sandford’s backlist and audiobooks at full price.

Information: 916-321-1128