Naked Prey, By John Sandford

This is the best book by John Sandford that I’ve read in a long time because it’s the first one I’ve read in a long time. Lucas Davenport is the continuing character in Sandford’s books, most of which have “Prey” in the title. He is an interesting man, a successful police officer and a game developer, as in computer gaming, which has made him very rich. I stopped reading the series because I got tired of the really twisted violence and the sexist tone.

This book is different from the earlier ones that I have read. Sandford has matured, is now married and a father. He is Director of Regional Studies in the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and also reports to the governor. Two bodies, a white woman and a black man, are discovered hanging from a tree in rural Broderick, Minn. by a precocious twelve year old named Letty West. The word lynching is already being used and the governor wants murder to be the descriptive word. I visualized the movie “Fargo” as I read the descriptions of the countryside in winter. The characters are interesting, and the story keeps coming up with surprises.

As Kirkus Reviews says, Sandford manages to humanize his monsters, and monsters they are, in the disguise of ordinary people. If you like a good murder mystery, you’ll like this one.

3 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Sallie Jenkins, Library Services

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Love in the Driest Season, By Neely Tucker

This is one of the best books I have read in recent memory. Neely Tucker is a journalist and at the time this memoir covers, he was a foreign correspondent for the Detroit Free Press, based in Zimbabwe. His book is the story of his and his wife’s attempt to keep alive and eventually adopt a Zimbabwe orphan.

Tucker is a white man from Mississippi and his wife is black. Her race was not an advantage, because the Zimbabwe culture reveres family history. They looked with suspicion at what they considered this strange couple from America. I picked the book up out of curiosity, and read the first chapter, which is poetic and riveting, describing the discovery of a newborn girl abandoned in weeds off the beaten path. I checked it out and read every spare minute until I had finished it.

Neely Tucker has covered conflicts in many places, such as Bosnia and other horrible, devastated places. When he and his wife were sent to Zimbabwe, it was a country being ravaged not by war, but by the AIDS virus. His statistics are unbelievable, as he writes about the number of children left parentless by this plague. The orphanages are over-run with infants and children, who are dying in droves, while the government turns a blind eye to the situation. He and his wife decided to try to help in the orphanages, and this is where they find Chipo, the girl in the first chapter.

The rest of the book is the recounting of their efforts to keep her alive, and to try to adopt her. The attitude of the social workers, the ineptness of the bureaucracy, the purposeful obstruction of the adoption process, and the declining political situation in Zimbabwe leave the reader awestruck at the determination of these two people. Please read this book. It will inspire you.

3 out of 4 Stars

Reviewed By: Sallie Jenkins, Library Services