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Buried Prey by John Sandford vs. The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly

June 1, 2011

WHY AREN’T THERE ANY PREY MOVIES? 

You would think that with almost 20 Prey books, many of which were best-sellers, somebody would make a movie.  What’s the problem?  My guess is that one of the issues is the dialogue.  All the characters talk the same way.  Tough cops talk like tough cops.  Guys who aren’t cops talk like tough cops.  Women who aren’t cops talk like tough cops.  The books are suspenseful, well plotted, but the dialogue is sometimes horrible, like every character is a bad horny comedian.  It’s not just a Prey problem; Rough Country was full of the same manly man dialogue.  Yes, I know screenwriters change everything, but the bad dialogue in the books keeps them from standing out.  When I finish a Prey book, I’ve been entertained, but I’ve never been floored, and I certainly have never said to myself, “Wow!  That would make a great movie.” 

Maybe some car chases and explosions would help. 

DO TELEVISION MOVIES COUNT? 

No. 

Supposedly a cable network is making a Prey movie (I forget which one) with Mark Harmon as Lucas Davenport.  I don’t picture Lucas Davenport as a Mark Harmon type, but who cares?  They could have done much worse.  It will all depend on the script. 

WHY SHOULD I READ THIS ONE? 

We’ve had a lot of Lucas Davenport books, and this time he realizes that he screwed up a case a long time ago, before John Sandford started writing books about him.  It’s a good premise, but it’s not a case readers are familiar with.  To me, it would have been more interesting if he had screwed up in an earlier novel, maybe one of the first ones (which I’ve read but don’t remember).  There would be more emotional investment in it, especially if we had been rooting for the antagonist to get caught.  Spoilers wouldn’t be too much of an issue because if Buried Prey were a reader’s first Lucas Davenport book, is that particular reader seriously going to go back to all 19(?) earlier installments?  Not if he’s a dysfunctional literate, he won’t. 

20 BOOKS? DOESN’T THAT BREAK RULE #3? 

Rule #3 states that a dysfunctional literate shall not read more than three books in a series.  The purpose of that rule is to avoid getting emotionally wrapped up in a story that goes nowhere (see A Song of Fire and Ice).  These Lucas Davenport books are self-contained.  You can pick up any one of them and not feel lost.  Personally, I think three Prey books are enough, but  to other readers , it’s kind of like a James Bond movie in that you know what you’re going to get and you’re probably going to like it (unless it’s Live and Let Die or A View to a Kill).  

WHICH BOOKS AREN’T REAL, PREY TELL? 

Which four books below are not John Sandford titles?  Two should be obvious. 

Rules of Prey

Hidden Prey

Eyes of Prey

Shadow Prey

Silent Prey

Winter Prey

Lettuce Prey

Night Prey

Mind Prey

Sudden Prey

Secret Prey

Certain Prey

Suppressed Prey

Easy Prey

Chosen Prey

Birds of Prey

Mortal Prey

Naked Prey

Shattered Prey

Broken Prey

Invisible Prey

Phantom Prey

Buried Prey 

WILL MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY RUIN THE FIFTH WITNESS

The Fifth Witness takes place after The Lincoln Lawyer (which I’ve neither read nor seen), so the question is: Can you read this book if you can’t stand Matthew McConaughey?  I’m not here to debate the talent of Matthew McConaughey.  That is for others who know and care more about movies than I do.  However, I’m not a Matthew McConaughey fan, and I’m not the only one who doesn’t care for him.  Luckily, the description of the main character early in The Fifth Witness helps me to visualize somebody who does not resemble Matthew McConaughey, and that helped me get through the entire novel.  An added bonus is that I can understand what’s going on in The Fifth Witness without having read any of Michael Connelly’s other books.  That’s pretty much all that a dysfunctional literate who doesn’t like Matthew McConaughey needs to know. 

If you’re a dysfunctional literate who likes Matthew McConaughey, then you’ve got several books to read and a movie to watch (if you haven’t already done so). 

BURIED PREY or THE FIFTH WITNESS?

The Fifth Witness.  The main character is more interesting, the dialogue is better, and the plot is more unique.

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