John Sanford – Rules of Prey (1989)

By reading the first book ‘Rules of Prey’, John Sanford and his prey series has captured my attention and spiked my interest greatly. So I plan to read each one of the novels in the series and give you a gist of the story and the suspense.

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Rules of Prey:

The story introduces a serial killer Maddog, who loves going after women, has sex and then kills them. He is very careful in his approach and makes sure he can handle the women he targets. The one time he miscalculates a victim who fights back and he escapes from her which ultimately leads to his obsession on her.

Here, John Sanford introduces Lucas Davenport as a single man team of Office of Special Intelligence, of the Minneapolis P.D. He is a tough looking guy who creates games which made him even wealthier. There is something about this cop which attracts women to him. He prefers to work alone alongside the homicide department in the P.D.

Maddog killer is a soft handed, average weight blonde person who develops a thirst for women and satisfies himself after using them by cruelly killing them. He makes sure no physical evidence is found at the scene of the murder, he is very calculated in his approach. He observes his ‘Chosen’ for several weeks or sometimes days to make a move on them. He loved games, was good at chess and loves to play, which makes him leave little clues at the crime scene.

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The maddog derived very simple rules after reviewing several murder investigations. He was intelligent, which can be seen from his rules, ‘Never kill anyone you know’, ‘Never have a motive’, ‘Never follow a discernable pattern’, ‘Never carry a weapon after it has been used’, ‘Isolate yourself from random discovery’ and ‘Beware of leaving physical evidence’. He built these rules as a challenge and left them near his victims corpses.

He horribly goes wrong in calculating one of his Chosen, an artist named Carla Ruiz at St.Paul. She fights back and escapes from him, a process in which he loses his gun. The gun turns out to be stolen from the evidence section for a case where Lucas has worked on. He successfully commits another crime and leaves a note there.

We are introduced to Lucas as a cop whose every move is being watched by the department.The cops watch him as he is from St. Paul, they assume him to be the ‘Maddog’ killer as the killer is assumed to be strong enough to overpower the victims and kill them with a single knife.

Since the third murder occurred while the police were watching Lucas, he is off the suspect list and is asked to take up the investigation and work alongside the homicide by the police cheif Quentin Daniel. Daniel assures complete cooperation from Frank Lester, the deputy chief of investigations.

Jennifer Carey, the TV3 reporter is his current muse. Jennifer announces that she is pregnant with his child and when he proposes for marriage, she declines saying, he would be a good father but would not be a good husband. Meanwhile Lucas has a relationship with the artist Carla too.

Lucas discusses his cases with Elle alias Sister Mary Joseph who works in the psychology department at St Anne’s college, St Paul. She is his best friend and former crush. He consults her for a psychological profile of the killers. In this case she tells him that unknown to him, all the women he chooses have similar features.

The story keeps us hooked to know how Lucas catches this intelligent killer by luring him into a game to catch him. The killer is lured and is almost caught when some unforeseen incident stalls the process. The killer is identified and is under watch by the police. He manages to escape them and goes after his obsession, Carla, who managed to escape him once.

Lucas smells a deception and arrives at Carla’s house in time to save her from the killer by killing him.

Rules of Prey is an engaging thriller, does not allow us to put down the book without finishing the read.

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