Follow TV Tropes


Creator / John Sandford

Go To

John Sandford is the pen name of John Roswell Camp (born February 23, 1944), a Pulitzer-winning reporter who decided to branch out into crime novels. Unusually, he had two debut novels, The Fool's Run featuring Kidd, a computer hacker, and Rules of Prey featuring Lucas Davenport, a hard-nosed detective. To avoid the gaffe of having two debut novels and to appease the two separate publishers he'd sold the stories to, he published Rules of Prey under a pen name of John Sandford and The Fool's Run under John Camp, his real name. Currently, all of his books are released under his pen name. He has a website run by his son which includes a substantial amount of reference material on what went into individual stories and how they evolved.

His fiction works include:

The Prey Series featuring Lucas Davenport

  • Rules of Prey
  • Shadow Prey
  • Eyes of Prey
  • Silent Prey
  • Winter Prey
  • Night Prey
  • Mind Prey
  • Sudden Prey
  • Secret Prey
  • Certain Prey
  • Easy Prey
  • Chosen Prey
  • Mortal Prey
  • Naked Prey
  • Hidden Prey
  • Broken Prey
  • Invisible Prey
  • Phantom Prey
  • Wicked Prey
  • Storm Prey
  • Buried Prey
  • Stolen Prey
  • Silken Prey
  • Field of Prey
  • Gathering Prey
  • Extreme Prey
  • Golden Prey
  • Twisted Prey
  • Neon Prey
  • Masked Prey

The Kidd Series featuring Kidd

  • The Fool's Run
  • The Empress File
  • The Devil's Code
  • The Hanged Man's Song

The Virgil Flowers Series featuring Virgil Flowers

  • Dark of the Moon
  • Heat Lightning
  • Rough Country
  • Bad Blood
  • Shock Wave
  • Mad River
  • Storm Front
  • Deadline
  • Escape Clause
  • Deep Freeze
  • Holy Ghost
  • Bloody Genius

Standalone books

  • The Night Crew
  • Dead Watch
  • Saturn Run

Tropes Associated with John Sandford

  • All for Nothing:
    • In Phantom Prey, Alyssa is killing the people who suspects of her daughter's death due to their lifestyle choices, only to find out all of them were innocent and the real killer is someone she never suspected who the police arrest before she can even consider revenge.
    • In Extreme Prey Marlys Purdy schemes to murder presidential candidate Michaelea Bowden, due to distrusting her for poorly defined reasons and wanting Governor Henderson to be president instead. Henderson in the meantime has told Lucas that he probably couldn't be selected as the presidential candidate and is hoping to be picked as Bowden's vice-president. Purdy's actions just kill more than twenty innocent people, along with Purdy and her younger son/accomplice, and make Bowden immensely popular due to her and Henderson behaving heroically in the aftermath of an attempted bombing. And as shown in the next book, Bowden still isn't elected president, being defeated by the Republican candidate, making everything that Purdy did utterly pointless.
  • Attention Whore: The killer in Easy Prey, with Lucas exploiting this to get him to surrender (and not harm his hostages) in exchange for being interviewed by a couple of reporters first.
  • Ax-Crazy: The majority of his villains relish killing.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Ammon and Alle'e in the backstory of "Easy Prey".
  • Bring My Brown Pants: In Stolen Prey, a man who got caught Robbing the Mob Bank deliberately poops his pants while being confronted by a team of torturers so they will let him clean himself off before torturing him. This makes them underestimate him and let him into the bathroom to clean up, and he quickly slams the door, blocks it, dives into a bullet resistant bathtub and starts yelling out the window for help.
  • Continuity Drift: In one of the more recent Davenport novels, which is mostly a prequel, Sloan's first name is revealed, and it's made clear that Lucas has known it for the entire series, which does not give with the Last-Name Basis used earlier in the books.
  • Cowboy Cop: Lucas Davenport starts off as one of these, but after a few books, a combination of Deconstruction and Character Development starts to broaden him out.
  • Cult Defector: Bad Blood features a Religion of Evil with a generations-old culture centered around pedophilia and incest. When Flowers and his men go to arrest the cult leader, they find him being held at gunpoint and subjected to a mock trial by his daughter and granddaughters, now that his men are all dead, arrested, or on the run. The daughter of another perpetrator, despite being Conditioned to Accept Horror, is happy to confirm the detectives' suspicions and direct them to evidence as soon as they question her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Almost everyone, but particularly notable in the Kidd books, which are narrated by Kidd in first person.
  • Evil Matriarch: Margery Singleton in Naked Prey, who is the one driving her son and the others to commit the kidnappings and murders of wealthy children, murders her son's Morality Pet when she walks in at the wrong time, and is even prepared to set her son up to be killed by the police with no remorse or hesitation in a failed attempt to cover her tracks.
  • Identity Impersonator: In Broken Prey, Lucas has a suspect there's a very strong case against, but who seems to be above reproach. Then he calls the man's last place of business for information and finds out the guy is still working there and the man he's met is an imposter.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every volume of the Davenport series has the word Prey in it; the volumes of the Kidd series have Tarot Motifs in their titles.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: In their BCA days, both Davenport and Flowers occasionally encounter this, with Mad River being the worst case.
  • Last-Name Basis: Detective Sloan from the Davenport series.
    Davenport: What is Sloan's first name, anyway?
    Sloan's Wife: I never asked.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: A major character in the Davenport novels is named Del Capslock.
  • Little Miss Badass: Lucas's future foster daughter Letty is introduced as a young kid who does her own hunting for sustenance and survives an attack on her life.
  • Man of the City: Silent Prey features a Killer Cop who passionately argues that he can make Manhattan about twenty times safer by killing a hundred people (repeat offenders, a particularly successful criminal defense attorney, etc.).
  • Mama Bear: Happens often, but a notable example is in Golden Prey, where the drug cartel kidnaps the mother of a man they're chasing (in an Evil Versus Evil conflict) and torture her for the names of other people close to him, and she deliberately withholds the name of her daughter and granddaughter (who live very close by).
  • Minnesota Nice: Played with. Some characters display the trope, and others play up to it to mess with out of state visitors.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Largely averted. Flowers is the only published author in the series, although Davenport is a game designer, which is similar in some ways.
  • Phrase Catcher: No matter how they meet him, sooner or later everyone calls Virgil Flowers "that fuckin' Flowers". Usually sooner.
  • Rules Lawyer: Happens often. For instance in Broken Prey, the assistant mental hospital administrator tells the imprisoned serial killers serving as the Big Bad Ensemble (their apprentice is the one out killing while they take sadistic pleasure through the details of his crimes, meaning they aren't likely to be cooperative) that if they want a lawyer when Lucas questions them then they'll have to spend a few days in isolation to make sure they they don't have any contraband in their bodies.
    Administrator Ross: That might convince them that they don't need an attorney.... Supreme Court says we can use reasonable security measures. We get to say what's reasonable.
  • Sequel Non-Entity: Storm Prey features Marcy having remarried with a young son, yet in the very next book, Mortal Prey no mention at all is made of them Despite Marcy's dying in that book and her inner monologue implies that there would be nothing to stop her from getting back together with Lucas if he and Weather ever divorced.
  • Those Two Guys: BCA agents Shrake and Jenkins, who often appear together and work with Lucas and Virgil for long periods of time and are largely interchangeable.
  • The Unfair Sex: Female murderers and accomplices are more than twice as likely to survive their novels, or even become a Karma Houdini, than male ones.
  • Twin Cities: the setting of almost all Sandford's novels - and the ones set elsewhere usually feature characters from there prominently.
  • Underling with an F in PR: The killers in Shadow Prey target businessmen and politicians who are prejudiced against Native Americans and hope to inspire other oppressed Native Americans to take the initiative. In the final act, their two leaders are exasperated when their hot-headed main enforcer and son (they both slept with his mother around the time he was conceived and helped raise him together) keeps deciding Murder Is the Best Solution for dealing with people who aren't on their list of targets. His actions make the group as a whole look more bloodthirsty and hypocritical than it is, something they never fully shake off.
    Sam Crow: That fucking kid is ruinin' us.
  • The 'Verse: The Kidd, Davenport and Flowers novels all take place in the same universe - notably, all three characters appear in Invisible Prey.
  • World of Snark: St Paul/Minneapolis, apparently.