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John Sandford

Simon & Schuster £10.00

Reviewed by Keith Miles

There are thirteen novels to date in Sandford's impressive PREY series and this one is among the most arresting. Lucas Davenport has the best possible reason to continue his pursuit of Clara Rinker. The ace hitwoman almost killed him. A quiet Southerner with an unassuming manner, Rinker is famous for her ability to disappear from sight. In Mortal Prey, she does so once more, retiring from the business to live in Mexico with her new boyfriend, son of a ruthless druglord. When her boyfriend is shot by a sniper, the druglord vows revenge, but Rinker knows that she was the intended target. She flees back to the States from Mexico. Davenport is drafted in by the FBI and DEA to run her to ground, and the chase starts. Since he's about to get married, Davenport believes that his fiancée would appreciate having him out of the way during the last-minute preparations, but he comes close to being permanently out of the way. While she tracks down her boyfriend's killer, Clara Rinker is simultaneously pursued by her old bosses in the St Louis mob, the Mexican druglord and the combined forces of US law enforcement, often at loggerheads with each other. Davenport is only one of the hounds in the pack, and it's a dangerous place to be.
The pace is fast and furious but carefully controlled, with surprises at every turn. Lucas Davenport learns new things about the phantom who has eluded him for so long. What makes the book so interesting is the way that Sandford retains sympathy for the prey as well as for the hunter, showing the darker side of Rinker's career and yet somehow making the reader want her to escape. Crisp dialogue, a multi-faceted plot and an expert knowledge of firearms make this another terrific entry in the series.