BOOK REVIEW: Neon Prey by John Sandford

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Abby Lozano, News Editor

Neon Prey, is the 29th book in John Sandford’s series. Even if you haven’t read the first 28 books, do not let that steer you away from reading this one. I’ve found out while there is a specific order to read said series, you’re able to enjoy each book separately, because each book follows a different story line. The Prey series follows the narrative of a recurring detective, Lucas Davenport and his run-ins with serial killers. Neon Prey specifically follows the story of Davenport, and his hunt for the prolific serial killer, Clayton Deese.

Clayton Deese was a hired hit man for a loan shark in New Orleans, that is until a job goes south, and he gets arrested. Deese, a cocaine addict, jumps bail and disappears leaving police to investigate his home. When they do, they come to terms with how many real skeletons Deese had hidden in his “closet”, which was the swamp behind his house. When the bodies are uncovered, the police make a horrible realization. Clayton Deese had not just been killing people, he had also been eating them. So not only is he a cocaine addicted serial killer, he is a cannibal.Once this grisly discovery has been made, Deese is now slapped with the label as the country’s most wanted fugitive. Lucas Davenport is brought in, to help track him down.

The plot structure of this novel is tight, and the pacing of the book is done well. Throughout the book, the reader gets to join Davenport as he uses a mix of blackmail, intimidation, and manipulation to snoop out the bad guys. Don’t think it ends just yet, Stanford makes sure to throw in quite the shocking twist. This twist feels like a heat of the moment situation, where the reader would not know how to react. This is one of the elements of the novel that make it so enjoyable to read.

This book has some faults to it. Sandford could have touched on Deese’s cannibalism much more. Usually when introduced with a cannibalistic antagonist, the reader would expect to experience someone to get eaten. Despite how gruesome that sounds, I just wished that plot line was covered a bit more thoroughly. Another issue is how Sandford handled dialogue in his novel. While most of it was enjoyable, there were times it felt stiff, and it broke the immersion. This was likely due to his excessive use of the same dialogue tag. He would constantly state, “This character said…” and “This character responded with…”. It was overdone and, at times was distracting.

When reading this book, I was able to ignore the minor setbacks. The storytelling is great, and Davenport is a stunning protagonist. He’s a tough-willed but lighthearted guy, who tends to take things a bit too seriously. He is very caring, and not to mention stubborn as hell, especially during the time when he needs to sit and relax. The book does a good job of drawing in the reader through mystery and shock. Many will also find themselves being fond of a lot of the characters, just because of how Sandford depicts them.

The only warning I have to future readers is to have a prepared mind, this book definitely deals with some heavy topics, as most of the Lucas Davenport novels do.

Despite some minor issues, this was a very enjoyable read.  My rating of this book would be a 3.5/5 stars. Look into giving it a try, if you find yourself interested.