At the beginning of John Sandford’s Extreme Prey, main character Lucas Davenport has left the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and is hanging out at his cabin in Wisconsin. I’m not sure if we are supposed to consider Davenport retired or if he is just considering retirement now that he’s a free agent, but, too little surprise, his relaxation comes to a halt on page eighteen when he gets a call from the governor of Minnesota’s assistant. The governor, Elmer Henderson, is currently campaigning for President of the United States in Iowa. He informs Davenport that his campaign thinks two people, possibly mother and son, are plotting to kill Michaela Bowden, one of the other candidates. Henderson wants Davenport to track them down, hopefully before the Iowa State Fair where Bowden plans on walking out in the open as part of the parade of candidates.
Bowden initially suspects that Henderson is trying to scare her out of Iowa in order to hurt her in the polls. Henderson’s concern for Bowden isn’t entirely altruistic. Part of his interest in keeping her alive stems from the fact that he wants to get on her ticket as the candidate for vice president. Due to some past indiscretions, he believes this is his most realistic path to the presidency.
Since Davenport no longer works for any specific branch of law enforcement, he is faced with some challenges that never came up when he had a badge. His investigation leads him to several different political groups that might have an interest in snuffing out Bowden, but trying to get any information out of members of the groups proves difficult. Most of them are wary of law enforcement and warier of someone in Davenport’s position who doesn’t even have a badge.
Sandford cuts back and forth between Davenport, the two main suspects, and another member of one of the political groups, the Progressive People’s Party of Iowa, who has a past crime to hide. It doesn’t take long for Davenport to suspect that the possible assassins are members of the PPPI, and it doesn’t take long for the bodies to start piling up as members of the party grow increasingly paranoid.
Extreme Prey is a first rate thriller. If you think the book sounds too political, don’t worry. Sandford places plot and character above political ideologies.