Picks and Pans Review: Rules of Prey

updated 10/23/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/23/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by John Sandford

A coldly calculating serial killer is terrorizing the women of Minnesota's Twin Cities. He picked the wrong burgs.

He is squarely in the jurisdiction of maverick cop Lucas Davenport, a dude who tends to be quite territorial. In Rules of Prey, his taut debut, Sandford, a pseudonym for Pulitzer-prizewinning St. Paul Pioneer Press & Dispatch reporter John Camp, has created one of the most colorful and engaging detectives since Nero Wolfe. Davenport is a ladies' man, a designer of computer games, a Porsche driver and racetrack betting whiz.

The book's title refers to the notes the killer leaves on his victims: "Never kill anyone you know"; "Never have a motive"; "Never carry a weapon after it has been used"; "Beware of leaving physical evidence," etc. With no telling clues or discernible pattern, Davenport still closes in on his man inexorably, using deduction and intuition. He also does a masterly job of manipulating the press and his street contacts. This gripping thriller is over far too soon, but one hopes Davenport will be back to twist the system to his own ends again soon. (Putnam, $16.95)

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