Thursday, June 26, 2014

John Sandford: The best cop writer out there

He stopped talking because R-A stepped behind him and snapped his head off.

In the crime/mystery/noir world, Elmore Leonard was the best at dialogue. Stark (Westlake) at getting into the mind of the criminal. Lee Child at violence. The procedural -- writing about cop procedure without getting overly technical or boring -- for my money, goes to Michael Connelly, whose Harry Bosch is one of the best fictional cops out there. (Nod to Scott Turow on the lawyer procedural, though Connelly gives him a run with his Lincoln Lawyer series.)

But John Sandford's got the cop writer crown nailed down. Sandford gets in the minds and lives of cops better than anyone I've read -- in much the way Stark does with criminals. Lucas Davenport is a crime-fighting bad ass who will break a law -- or a face -- in order to see justice done. I've read every Prey book (24 and counting) and have yet to see a significant dropoff. His latest, "Field of Prey," is one of his best yet: part mystery, part thriller, part horror -- all bad-ass Davenport. Taut as hell, as you might expect from a former (Pulitzer Prize-winning) journalist.

I look forward to each Prey installment much the way I used to wait for the latest Spenser book from Robert B. Parker. Until Parker became predictable and repetitive, that is.

Somehow, after 24 books, Sandford is still humming. Davenport still has his hooks in me. Now who's going to step up and start putting this to film?

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