Politics is seen by many as a life and death situation. In the latest in the Lucas Davenport series from author John Sandford, Silken Prey: A Novel, it is literally true as a political operative by the name of Tubbs is dead. Tubbs occasionally was a fixer, sometimes a bagman, and sometimes he did dirty tricks projects. Now he is missing and presumed dead by Lucas Davenport.
Not that Lucas knows about Tubbs initially when gets the call from Governor Henderson. Nine days out from the election and the Republican candidate for Senator has had his campaign torpedoed by allegations of kiddy porn. Porter Smalls was winning until disgusting images on his computer at his campaign office were accidentally found by a young campaign staffer. Lucas doesn't care for politics and doesn't care that Porter Smalls is now in huge trouble. But, the Governor does and wants Lucas to investigate the situation.
Elmer Henderson, a Democrat, is the Minnesota Governor and in four years just might be a legitimate Vice Presidential candidate. He has good reasons to want to see conservative republican Porter Smalls go down in flames. But, the governor is absolutely sure Smalls isn’t into kiddie porn. He wants Lucas to investigate. Not only because it is the right thing to do and Smalls was quite possibly framed. If he was framed this is taking things way too far and everyone, no matter their party, is at risk. Once this sort of thing happens, you never come back from it, and media never fixes things after they destroy you.
“’You’re saying the media is dangerous, immoral, and anti-democratic?
“Well…yes,” Henderson said. “They don't recognize it in themselves, but they're basically criminals. In the classic sense of that word.’” (Page 16)
While readers know early on how the storylines connect together (as we usually do in the recent books of the series) it takes Lucas and others a bit longer to start to put the pieces together. A secondary storyline involving the actions of a computer hacker and his wife who still has the itch to steal competes for equal attention with the primary storylines by the end of this enjoyable 400 plus page novel.
While the novel does not chart new ground for Lucas and the other characters one does not expect anything new in that regard this deep in the series. Everyone is locked into who they are---both professionally and personally. No one is about to have a midlife crisis, dump everything for a fancy sports car, and hit the open road. These characters are firmly established and, as such, change is going to have to come from outside of them.
Politics has often been a major component of the Prey series and clearly is a huge element in Silken Prey which is the 23rd novel in the series going back to Rules of Prey. While again in this novel Lucas claims to not care about politics and has virtually zero interest in the subject, much of what he does in pursuit of suspects has definite political motives to it. He makes deals with everyone about what he will say and do in the investigation and expects others to wheel and deal with him. As in previous books, Lucas is once again working all the angles to ensure that the guilty parties are caught in this solidly good read. It is a dangerous minefield to pursue the guilty when they are rich and powerful. That time is coming when the politics will take Lucas down as Rose Marie warns:
“’A lot of people in the Department of Public Safety and over at the BCA don't like this kind of thing, the political stuff. And you've been doing a lot of it. When I'm not here to protect you, when Elmer's not here...”
“Ah, it’s all right, Rose Marie,” Lucas Said. “I’ve been fired before. Stop worrying about it.’” (Page 21)
Silken Prey: A Novel
G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Group)
Hardback (also available as e-book and audio book)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System. If you are in the area and would like more information about Plano libraries go here.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2013
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