Friday, August 6, 2021

Review: Ocean Prey by John Sandford

by John Sandford
Release Date: April 13, 2021
2021 G.P. Putnam's Sons
Kindle Edition; 431 Pages
ISBN: 978-0593087022
Audiobook: B08L8F4B2J
Genre: Fiction / Thriller
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

An off-duty Coast Guardsman is fishing with his family in the Atlantic just off south Florida when he sees, and then calls in, some suspicious behavior in a nearby boat. It's a snazzy craft, slick and outfitted with extra horsepower, and is zipping along until it slows to pick up a surfaced diver . . . a diver who was apparently alone, without his own boat, in the middle of the ocean. None of it makes sense unless there's something hinky going on, and his hunch is proven correct when all three Guardsmen who come out to investigate are shot and killed.

They're federal officers killed on the job, which means the case is the FBI's turf. When the FBI's investigation stalls out, Lucas Davenport of the U.S. Marshals Service gets a call. The case turns even more lethal and Davenport needs to bring in every asset he can find, including a detective with a fundamentally criminal mind: Virgil Flowers.
My Thoughts
Ocean Prey is the next book in the Lucas Davenport series, and I was really excited to learn that Virgil Flowers would be featured in this book as well.  These two characters are so different on so many levels that having them work together is always a treat.  Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way as Virgil was paired with Rae, another US Marshall, and the two of them didn't really interact personally.  I'm not really sure what the author is planning in the future with his two lead characters, and I don't object to the two of these characters working together, but I think it will be interesting to see how he merges these two worlds.
I have always enjoyed both Lucas and Virgil as main characters, but I have to say that Lucas' character didn't quite ring true to me in this one.  If you are a long-time reader of this series, you will be familiar with what happened in the previous book so will understand what I am talking about. And some of Lucas' struggles should have continued into this book, but there was nothing about it in this book; and when something major did happen, you only get a backhanded report of how Lucas dealt with the situation.  And how Rae dealt with it as well.  This actually bothered me as I wanted to be much more empathetic after a shock like that than I was, and believe me, I was shocked and saddened by what happened.  But Lucas came back clinical and cold, which I get, but I would have liked to have seen some emotion, you know? 

Personally, I was a bit disappointed when I learned that Virgil and Lucas would not actually be working together, but would be working on the CASE together.  Again, I think the author is trying to merge the main characters into a single series, but it won't happen in a single book.  This didn't actually impact my overall rating for the book, it was just my own disappointment.  Lucas worked to basically keep Virgil and Rae alive while they went undercover.  Some of that usual banter you expect to see from Virgil is definitely present in some of his scenes, and I couldn't help but laugh out loud at some of the antics.  Gotta love Virgil!

The pace felt a bit off in this book compared to previous books.  I can't explain it unless you've read the previous books, but it just felt...fragmented.  The pace was fine, and I didn't mind the technical descriptions of the diving as I find the information quite interesting never having done a dive myself.  I'm not always crazy about how Lucas is used to come in and save the day as I feel this is getting to be an overused trope, especially when Lucas and Bob come in and find a clue so quickly, one that the FBI agents would have been capable of finding themselves.  It's just not that believable anymore. Plus, there were a few things that were a bit puzzling throughout the book, like the crime blokes not frisking RAe and Virgin on a regular basis to ensure their own safety, and one of the ringleaders developed this trust in Virgil for no reason that I could see.  It just didn't make sense.  These guys are long-time mafia ruffians; they wouldn't suddenly make mistakes like this.

Ocean Prey was a bit of a disappointment for me, but there were some highlights as well.  Some of the comedic moments that I loved in earlier books did, at times, make an appearance, and I definitely admired the technical descriptions in this book.  The pace was a bit slow and bit disjointed as if the author couldn't quite figure what he wanted to do with his characters and his story, but while I was disappointed because it didn't feel up to his earlier efforts, it was still an okay book.  Would I read another book in this series? Yes, because I am curious as to what the author is planning with regards to Lucas and Virgil.  For new readers, I do recommend you start at the beginning as the earlier books are better, but you could read this one with no problem. 



  1. I've heard of the author but have not read any of his work.

    1. Definitely start at the beginning as they are much more intense.