June 10, 2002 12:00 PM

By John Sandford

Beach book of the week

The 13th of Sandford’s Prey novels featuring Minneapolis deputy police chief and fashion plate Lucas Davenport finds him giving chase to Clara Rinker, a professional hit woman he met in 1999’s Certain Prey. In Mexico, her unborn baby and her boyfriend, the son of a drug lord, are killed, and she is wounded in what she believes is a botched hit commissioned by mobsters. One order of revenge, coming right up.

Slick and sleek and feasting on some moldering prey of her own—the excuse that she was abused as a girl—Rinker is the most involving character here; readers will cheer her on, and even Davenport seems to like her as he and the FBI close in and she merrily picks off Mob targets.

Sandford writes fluently and with some flashes of wit: A female FBI agent calls her hard-hat boyfriend “dumb as a bowl of mice.” This police procedural is masterfully paced, absorbing and, mega-implausibilities included, a model of the genre. Unfortunately Sandford cheats readers by following a nifty 340-page chase with a hasty, forced 14-page after-thought of an ending. (Putnam, $26.95)

Bottom Line: Make a Prey date

You May Like