Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Talent Tuesday: John Sandford


Welcome to Talent Tuesday!

One of my favorite "good reads" author is John Sandford. His book, Wicked Prey, is his latest release in the "Prey" series and came out on May 12th this year. As much as I would love to say that I've read the near twenty books in the Prey series, my to-be-read pile is stacked so high I bought it a shelf ;) However, I have read many of them and I recommend the series to everyone.

This is an excerpt from the opening of Wicked Prey:
WARNING: ADULT LANGUAGE AHEAD!

Randy Whitcomb was a human stinkpot, a red-haired cripple with a permanent cloud over his head; a gap-toothed, pock-faced, paraplegic crank freak, six weeks out of the Lino Lakes medium-security prison. He hurtled past the luggage carousels at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, pumping the wheels of his cheap non-motorized state-bought wheelchair, his coarse red hair a wild halo around his head.

"Get out of the way, you little motherfucker," he snarled at a blond child of three or four years. He zipped past the gawking mother and tired travelers and nearly across the elegant cordovan shoe-tips of a tall bearded man. "Out of the way, fuckhead," and he was through the door, the anger streaming behind him like coal smoke from a power plant.

• • •

The bearded man with the elegant cordovan shoes, which came from a shop in Jermyn Street in London, leaned close to his companion, a dark-haired woman who wore blue jeans and a black blouse, running shoes and cheap oversized sunglasses with unfashionable plastic rims. He said, quietly, in a cool Alabama accent, "If we see yon bugger again, remind me to crack his skinny handicapped neck."

The woman smiled and said, "Yon bugger? You were in England way too long."

Brutus Cohn, traveling under the passport name of John Lamb, tracked the wheelchair down the sidewalk. There was no humor in his cold blue eyes. "Aye, I was that," he said. "But now I'm back."

• • •

Cohn and the woman, who called herself Rosie Cruz, walked underground to the short-term parking structure, trailing Cohn's single piece of wheeled luggage. As they went out the door, the heat hit them like a hand in the face. Not as bad as Alabama heat, but dense, and sticky, smelling of burned transmission fluid, spoiled fruit and bubble gum. Cruz pushed the trunk button on the remote key and the taillights blinked on a beige Toyota Camry.

"Ugly car," he said, as he lifted the suitcase into the trunk. Cohn disliked ugly cars, ugly clothes, ugly houses.

"The best-selling car in America, in the least attention-getting color," Cruz said. She was a good-looking woman of no particularly identifiable age, who'd taken care to make herself mousy. She wore no makeup, had done nothing with her hair.

Cohn had once seen her in Dallas, where women dressed up, and she'd astonished him with her authentic Texas vibe: moderately big hair, modestly big lipstick, two-inch heels, stockings with seams down the back; her twice-great-grand-uncle might have died at the Alamo. Cruz, when working, dressed for invisibility. She fit in Dallas, she fit in Minnesota, she fit wherever they worked – she was wallpaper, she was background. She took the driver's side, and he sat on the passenger side, fiddling with the seat controls to push it all the way back. At six-foot-six, he needed the leg room.

"Give me your passport and documents," Cruz said, when the air conditioning was going.

He took a wallet out of his breast pocket and handed it over. Inside were a hundred pounds, fifty euros, fifty dollars, an American passport, a New York state driver's license, two credit cards, a building security card with a magnetic strip, and a variety of wallet-detritus.

The whole lot, except for the passport and currency, had been taken from the home of the real John Lamb by his building superintendent, who was a crook. Since the credit cards would never be used, no one would be the wiser. The passport had been more complicated, but not too – a stand-in had applied by mail, submitting a photograph of Cohn, and when it came to Lamb's apartment, it had been stolen from the mailbox. As long as the real Lamb didn't apply for another one, they were good.

Cruz took out the currency and handed it back to Cohn, tucked the wallet under the car seat and handed over another one, thick with cash. "William Joseph Wakefield – Billy Joe. Everything's real, except the picture on the driver's license. Don't use the credit cards unless it's an emergency."

"Billy Joe." Cohn thumbed through the cash. "Two thousand dollars. Three nights at a decent hotel."

"We're not staying at a decent hotel," Cruz said. She reached into the back seat, picked up a baseball cap with a Minnesota Twins logo, and said, "Put this on and pull it down over your eyes."

He did, and with his careful British suit, it made him look a bit foolish. She wouldn't have given it to him without a reason, so he put it on, and asked, "Where're we set up?"

She backed carefully out of the parking space and turned for the exit. "At the HomTel in Hudson, Wisconsin, just across the state line from here. Thirty miles. Two hundred and twenty dollars a night, for two rooms for you, adjoining, which is twice as much as they're worth, but with the convention in town, you get what you can. I'm upstairs and on the other side of the motel."

"Where're the boys?"

"Jesse's across the street at the Windmill, Tate is at the Cross Motel, Jack is at a mom-and-pop called Wakefield Inn, all in Hudson. All within easy walking distance from the HomTel." Multiple nearby rooms in different hotels made it easier to get together, and also easier to find an emergency hideout if the cops made one or another of them. They could be off the street in minutes, in a motel where they'd never been seen by the management.

Standard operating procedure, worked out and talked-over in prisons across the country. Cohn nodded and said, "Okay."

• • •

[end]

And we haven't even gotten to the good part yet! :) Lucas Davenport is the real sustaining character in the series. He reminds me of a cross between the deceptive down-home intelligence of James Garner in The Rockford Files, the elegance and wit of Dirk Pitt from Cussler's novels, and the wearily amused, gung-ho fortitude of Bruce Willis's character John McClane from Die Hard. In other words, Lucas Davenport is a character so well-rounded and three-dimensional, you believe he's real while reading the book.

When we read the works of authors like Sandford, there is a sense of confidence in the writing that always appeals to me. This is an author I can trust. This is an author who has something to tell me. This is a story I need to discover. Those are the thoughts that I have when I read a truly accomplished writer. Take a moment to visit his website and see all the other books and articles he has available: John Sandford.com


I hope you enjoyed this Talent Tuesday and if you get a chance to read his books or are already a fan, please let us know in the comments!

Warmly,
Jenny:)

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