Winter Prey – John Sandford
Lucas Davenport has tracked killers in cities across America. But the woods of rural Wisconsin are as dark and primal as evil itself. The winters are harsher and colder. And in the heart of every mother and father, there is fear . . .
Because tonight, the Iceman cometh.
I am delighted to have the chance to join The Booktrail Advent tour – many thanks for the opportunity to take everyone to snowy Wisconsin and meet up with one of my favourite characters: Lucas Davenport.
You can follow the full advent tour by clicking through on this link: https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/booktrailadvent
I know this is an Advent tour and that this should suggest Christmas themes but I read crime and thrillers and they tend not to lend themselves to the warm and happy glow that I feel Christmas should ideally bring. I did consider revisiting Agatha Christie’s The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding as I am a huge fan of the Hercule Poirot novels but I had another plan!
Let me do some mental mapping here – Christmas makes me think of White Christmas…snow…and cold dark nights…bleak winters (I grew up in the Scottish Highlands where they have bleak winters nailed down!)…whiteouts…a killer hiding in the snow…stalking his victims and escaping into the black night. When I think killers in the snow the first book that comes to mind is Winter Prey by John Sandford. I first read this back in the 1990’s and all these years later it remains one of my favourite books in the Davenport series (now totalling over 20 titles and boasting an established spin off series too).
Winter Prey is a cracking murder mystery. Davenport is the focus, as you would expect, his investigation into the murder of a family in their remote rural Wisconsin cabin is hampered from the outset by the fact the murderer has set fire to the house in a bid to destroy the bodies. But we also get to view events unfolding through the eyes of the killer: The Iceman. The identity of the killer remains shrouded in mystery throughout the book, but the reader can see that he/she is monitoring the investigation from afar. We see the paranoia and learn that there are risks threatening their exposure when a 3rd party makes an innocent comment leading the killer to realise that there is hidden incriminating evidence that must be found. More deaths are bound to follow as the killer looks to cover their tracks.
Most at risk is the local doctor and surgeon – Weather Karkinnen. She will know the identity of the killer if she gets to see the hidden evidence and the killer knows this. Unfortunately for Weather she is unaware that she can identify a killer and as such she has no idea that her life is at risk. When her job requires her to travel alone through many remote locations on a daily basis you cannot help but fear for her safety. Weather does have one thing in her favour, a certain police officer is more than a little fascinated by this unusually named surgeon. Any killer trying to get to Weather will have to go through Lucas Davenport first.
A deadly game of cat and mouse will unfold – pursuits will be hampered by snowstorms, tracks will be covered and evidence destroyed. Can a City Cop overcome the wilderness and hunt down an increasingly desperate murderer? Sandford captures the feel of the location and the bitter chill of the winter. After more than 20 years I still remember that initial feeling of being completely absorbed in the story and believing I was also chilled to the bone as I trekked through the Wisconsin woods with my fictional hero as he hunted down The Iceman.
It is atmospheric, it is compelling reading and it sets a scene which few crime novels that I have read since have rivalled.