Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saving Max

by Antoinette van Heugten
Mira 375 pages
978-0-7783-2963-3
Submitted by Phoenix and Phoenix
Rating 4.5

Have you ever wondered how far you would go to save your child?
Danielle Parkman is an up-and-coming litigator in a New York law firm which expects much from her. She is also a single mother of Max, a teenager with Aspergers Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. Max has recently become more physically violent and Danielle has caught him using drugs. What has prompted the emergency appointment with Max's psychiatrist is the journal Danielle has found under his bed with detailed suicide plans. The psychiatrist recommends that Danielle commit Max to Maitland, an internationally renowned hospital.

Shortly after Max has been admitted he begins to exhibit psychotic and violent behavior. His treatment team holds a meeting with Danielle to tell her of Max's diagnosis. The diagnosis is grave and Danielle doesn't believe it; this is not the Max she's ever known. So she sets about to prove the diagnosis wrong. Then a few days later Danielle finds Max huddled in the corner of another boy's room. The boy is dead and Max is covered in blood and clutching the murder weapon.

Danielle, barred from her son and charged with a few felonies, sets out with the help of her attorney and his private investigator to prove that her son is innocent. She adds another few felonies to her record as she slips her ankle bracelet and travels across the country to gather evidence against the person she is convinced is the real murderer.

This is an enjoyable book, a good read. The plot is deftly executed. The action begins on page 1 and never flags. The resolution is in doubt right up until the last few pages. The characters ring true except possibly parts of Danielle's defense attorney but not other parts, so I'll let you readers make that call. It is my opinion that the thriller genre loses something due to the obligatory romance. I usually find these to be extraneous and a gnat you want to slap. Mercifully, this one is quickly relegated to the back burner so we can get on with the story. The thriller parts as well as the courtroom parts are believable and well drawn. I read for hours at a time to know how it would end. You will too.

I look forward to more from this promising author. I give this a 4.5 on a scale of 5.

Antoinette van Heugten, author of Saving Max, is certainly qualified to write this story. She has two autistic boys, one of which has been hospitalized, and Ms. van Heugten also had problems accepting her son's diagnosis. She too was an attorney. For an interview with the author click on this link http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/interviews/article/44014-a-parent-s-worst-nightmare-pw-talks-with-antoinette-van-heugten.html

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Banned Books Week 2010, Sept 25 - Oct 2!

The main event will be held in Chicago. Please check out the web site http://bannedbooksweek.org/index.html

Everyone please read a banned book this week - it'll be good for your soul

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What Would Keith Richards Do?

On Decisions:

"It was one of those moments where you have to make a decision: take it on the ribs or take a shot to the temple on the desk. All part of life's rich pageant."

-regarding his fall in his library, where he was suddenly attacked by, and buried under, the Encyclopedia Brittanica

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Truck a love story

by Michael Perry
Harper Perennial pages 281
ISBN 978-0-06-057117-7
From my personal library
Rating: 3.5

Michael Perry is an interesting man. He leads the life that so many nameless drones in the city think they would trade a left arm for: bucolic, picturesque, wholesome. I'm sorry if that seems somehow snide because Michael's life is all of those things. It certainly is a good life. Although I can't shake the thought that his life is a special order from NPR. And he has been on All Things Considered, more than once.

The author returned home from the city after twelve years. Those drones should take note right here: Michael can work from home. He is a writer so he can work with a modem. He has an impressive catalogue: Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time; Coop: A Family, a Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg; Truck: a Love Story; Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting; Off Main Street: Barnstormers, Prophets and Gatemouth's Gator; and Big Rigs, Elvis &the Grand Dragon Wayne and Why They Killed Big Boy and other stories, collections of his essays.

I find this book difficult to review. I think it's not necessary to review the book because I can just describe the author's life. It's the same thing. Michael Perry's writing is funny and warm and certainly evocative of small town America. But it is sentimental, sometimes a little precious. In this book the truck stands background for a year of his life. During that year Michael obsesses over his backyard garden, leaves for book tours, reports on various family members, saves people from house fires and car wrecks because he is a member of the volunteer fire and rescue, hunts deer and gets married. You are all correct that these things are usually mundane, with maybe the exception of the married part or maybe not. It's Michael Perry's talent and skills of observation that make the reader listen to see what he will say.

In addition to the list of books above Perry does live reading events. He is also a member of a band whose music is a mix of straight-up twang and churchly harmonies, according to his web site http://www.sneezingcow.com/ .
The first album is titled HeadWinded - Michael Perry and the Long Beds and the second is Tiny Pilot - Michael Perry and the Long Beds.

I didn't figure out how to rate this one so I am giving it a 3.5

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What Would Keith Richards Do?

On Inner Demons:

"He's still around. Without the dope, we have a bit more of a chat these days. It's been more of a truce."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Travels With Charley - In Search of America

by: John Steinbeck
A Bantam Book July 1962
9780142000700
From my personal library
Rating: 3.5

First off, Charley is a dog. You would think that John Steinbeck would have a manly dog, a lab, a retriever or maybe a shepard? Well you would be wrong. Charley is a poodle and he is blue.

Steinbeck decided that he didn't know his country anymore. He felt he was writing about things he no longer knew so he decided to take a road trip around the country. He put a camper on a 3/4 ton truck and stocked food, water, plenty of liquor and dog food. He vowed to stay out of large cities, he would sleep in camp grounds, trailer parks and next to various streams. When he decided he was ripe enough he would spend a night in a motel for the shower.

Steinbeck began his trip in Connecticut, made a great loop around through Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, missed Minnesota due to a pathological fear of traffic, North Dakota, Montana which he claimed as his great love, a short dogleg to Yellowstone which he pronounced nature gone nuts,
Washington where he did not recognize the Seattle of his experience, a sweet little city of hills and gardens beside a beautiful harbor, with its freeways and tract housing, thankfully Oregon with its 300 foot redwoods was still a religious experience, California where he was born and raised, Texas (disclaimer: I am a native Texan but notice that I do use quotes to bolster my snobbishness) where he discovered that "Texas is a nation in every sense of the word," and "Texas is the only state that came into the Union by Treaty and the only state that retains the ability to secede at will." 'Nuff said, and finally New Orleans suffering the birth pangs of a sea change in race relations.

He met all sorts of people: a submariner, various storekeepers, farmers,  crop pickers, waitresses, camp ground owners, police officers of several varieties, cooks, actors, veterinarians, barkeeps, ranchers, reporters, preachers, and Republicans. Steinbeck invited several of these people into the camper for a drink or two and good conversation.

A couple of things made me stop and consider and make a note to look at later. Here they are:

Prescient environmentalist: "...I do wonder whether there will come a time when we can no longer afford our wastefulness - chemical wastes in the river, metal wastes everywhere, and atomic wastes buried deep in the earth or sunk in the sea. When an Indian village became too deep in its own filth, the inhabitants moved. And we have no place to which to move."

On nostalgia for the good 'ole days: "Even while I protest the assembly-line production of our food, our songs, our language, and eventually our souls, I know that it was a rare home that baked good bread in the old days. Mother's cooking was with rare exceptions poor, that good unpasteurized milk touched
only by flies and bits of manure crawled with bacteria, sudden death from uknown causes, and that sweet local speech I mourn was the child of illiteracy and ignorance." So when someone waxes nostalgic you should consider the options.

I recommend this book for John Steinbeck fans. There are portions where the story tends to lag some but not for long. Others may find it entertaining if you like travel books or Americana.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What Would Keith Richards Do?

On Identity:

"You've gotta be cool with yourself. If you've gotta think about being cool, you ain't cool."

I just want everyone to know that you can now find me on LibraryThing. My handle (does anyone remember CB radios? Breaker-breaker 19) is TexasBookLover. Please check it out. Thanks to all! http://www.librarything.com/

Friday, July 23, 2010

What Would Keith Richards Do?

"If they hadn't come smashing through my front door, no one would've known what example I was setting."  - on being a bad example for society

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Glass Rainbow: a Dave Robicheaux Novel

by James Lee Burke
Simon & Schuster July 2010
978-1-4391-2829-9
From my personal library
Rating: 5 of 5 - sheer perfection

Have you ever smelled the magnolias, tasted the gumbo, seen the Spanish moss strung like Christmas garlands in the live oaks, heard the rain play on a tin roof, felt the damp salt breeze off the Gulf of Mexico? And the fleeting visions in the corner of your eye are indeed ghosts of an antebellum past, in the land of Marie Laveau. James Lee Burke's gifts are such that you will experience all of these things right there in your own home or in the coffee shop or on the evening train, even if you have never made it to New Orleans (NuOrlans) or south to New Iberia Parish.

Mr. Burke is the recipient of two Edgars (Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel of the year), awarded by the Mystery Writers of America (MWA), the only author to win more than one. In 2009 he was named a "Grand Master" by the MWA. He also received the Louisiana Writer Award presented by the now Governor of Louisiana Kathleen Blanco. Mr. Burke is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Bread Loaf Fellow and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow (NEA). The Lost Get Back Boogie, his fourth novel, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He also taught creative writing at Wichita State University.

The Glass Rainbow is the best James Lee Burke novel, the best Dave Robicheaux tale. The novel begins with the investigation of the deaths of seven girls and young women. There is a list of suspects: an heir to a plantation fortune turned author of historical novels; an ex-con turned author of a novel about his prison time (one of those people made famous by an affluent "sophisticated" readership living vicariously on illicit thrills); a swamp-wise dealer/pimp/entrepreneur who preys expertly on desperate people with dreams of a significant life; a nouveaux-riche millionaire and his wife with old money pretensions, under investigation by the IRS and the SEC.

Dave Robicheaux, New Iberia Parish Sheriff Detective, Vietnam vet and recovering alcoholic who harbors no illusions about his fellow man, is conducting the investigation into the young women's deaths. As always, best friend and private investigator Clete Purcel, Vietnam Vet, disgraced former cop and alcoholic with a death wish (who is somehow adorable despite these things), has his back (sometimes in the form of ag assault and maybe justifiable homicide.)

The extra ingredient in this mix is the presence of Dave's daughter Alafair, home for the summer between college and law school. She is also writing a novel (there's a lot of writing going on here) and becomes involved with Kermit Abelard, aforementioned plantation heir from our suspect list.
This brew comes to a boil with results that I did not see coming. I kept counting the pages because I did not want it to end. This novel changes everything. Nothing in Dave and Clete's world will ever be the same. By the climax of The Glass Rainbow I was holding my breath with tears in my eyes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What Would Keith Richards Do?

Keith Richards on Women:

"There's nothing more disturbing than two chicks whispering to each other."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

By Timothy Egan
Houghton Mifflin Company
340 pgs
ISBN 978-0-618-34697-4
From my personal library
Rating: This is my first 5 of 5 rating and I am so excited!

The Worst Hard Time won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 2006 and this award is well deserved. The New York Times said of this book "This is can't-put-it-down history." and I heartily agree. The Dust Bowl spanned the years of 1931-1939 and effected parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Meteorologists still consider this to be the nation's worst prolonged environmental disaster. Drought contributed to this giant mess, however drought was not unusual in the High Plains. The ruination of the plains was not due to climate change. It was due almost entirely to the actions of man. 

The High Plains were considered to be the best grassland in the world. In 1804 Lewis and Clark pronounced this land to be "well calculated for the sweetest and most nourishing hay." The Comanche, the Lords of the Plains, lived and hunted there. They chased on horseback the great bison herds over the plains and used them for everything from dinner to teepee hides, used the stomachs as canteens and the tendons for bow strings. This land was perfect for grazing antelope and buffalo. They fed on the grasses but left the stubble and root systems intact. This allowed the grasses to hold down the soil so that they endured and came back each year for millenia

The settler farmers changed all that. In 1820 Stephen Long, a government engineer, explorer and surveyor, declared this land "...almost wholly uninhabitable by a people depending upon agriculture..." His advice was heeded by no one. The federal government removed the Comanche from the land (as they always did - after breaking a treaty) to free up the land for farmers. The farmers used their plows and then tractors to turn the earth under, pulling up the grass. The farmers planted wheat during a time when Russia was not exporting wheat so the price was sky high. Then Russia began exporting again and the price of wheat dropped like a rock. To make up for the lower price the farmers plowed yet more acreage which further destroyed the grasses and set the topsoil free. I am a native Texan and I know all about how the wind blows on the High Plains: 24/7 and so it stole the unprotected topsoil and left behind dust. It is estimated that 80,000,000 acres of soil disappeared. Wheat won't grow in dust and neither did anything else.


Then the dust storms began. They sometimes topped out at 10,000 feet. The National Weather Service had no name for the phenomena. They weren't just simple dust storms or sand storms. No one had ever seen anything like it. The farmers called the dust storms "black blizzards," so named because it was frequently dark as night at high noon. The many effects of these blizzards were sometimes brutal. The storms generated static electricity so strong it shorted out cars and sparked with human contact such as handshakes and hugs, and electrified barbed wire fences. They caused dust pneumonia which was sometimes fatal. The flying dust blinded people and animals alike. Farm animals died from internal suffocation and starvation because their stomachs were full of dust.

The people tried all sorts of things to deal with the dust. They hung wet sheets over doors and windows and mud brown water ran in rivulets to the floor. When it was really bad they soaked towels in water and put them over their heads - inside. The Red Cross handed out face masks and people applied Vaseline to their nostrils in an effort to trap the dust before it got into their lungs. Homes had to be swept continuously because the dust always found a way in. It sifted down the walls like flour; often you needed a shovel to dig out of your home.

When Franklin D.Roosevelt was elected president in 1932 he thought the desperate situation of the farmers in the High Plains should be treated as a matter of relief. He dispatched Hugh Bennett, the director of a new agency within the Interior Department, to assess the situation and report back. When Bennett returned with his report FDR realized the extent of the disaster. The government put in place several programs to try to restore the balance in the High Plains. Among other things, they planted trees and grass. They bought up land and livestock. They paid farmers not to plow.

There are places in the High Plains that have yet to recover from the damage done to them by human hubris. But there is good news. There are now three national grasslands in the High Plains run by the Forest Service. The grass has come back in part thanks to the restoration and conservation efforts put in place by FDR. The antelope are back and there is a plan underway to reintroduce buffalo as has been done in other parts of the plains.


The Worst Hard Time is history at its most readable. It is never dry and there are no lists of dates. It's a collection of personal stories of the families that lived through this time that made me want to read this book as I would normally read a thriller: cover to cover in a couple of days. For those of you who don't like histories I recommend that you give this a try. I give it a 5 of 5: sheer perfection.

Bonus: The federal government's Resettlement Administration commissioned a film in 1936 to play for audiences in the rest of the US in order to draw public support for their policies. The result was The Plow That Broke the Plains starring a reluctant Bam White whose story is recounted in The Worst Hard Time. You can see the film (25 minutes) here:http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1119800966783091956# 


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What Would Keith Richards Do?

On God:  "You never know what the sound's gonna be like in those stadiums. You're relying on God, who joins the band every night in one form or another."

Friday, June 25, 2010

What Would Keith Richards Do?

On Inspirations and Influences:
"'A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop, a lop-bam-boom.' For me, the world then went from black-and-white to Technicolor. Just like that - there it is! That's as concise as I can put it. It's the best bit of English I've ever heard."

Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum Series #16)

By Janet Evanovich
Published June 2010 by St. Martin's Press  
309 pages
ISBN 9780312383305
From my personal library
Rating - 4 Really liked this one

Read this in approximately 24 hours and really enjoyed it. The last couple of installments in this series seemed to be lacking and increasingly preposterous. With Sizzling Sixteen Ms. Evanovich is back in good form. That's not to say there's no preposterousnous (that can't be a word) here.
Stephanie Plum is up to her neck in crocodiles, of course, except in this case it's an alligator.
Steph has inherited a lucky bottle from her Uncle Pip and spends the rest of the book trying to decide if it's good luck or bad luck. We all know the sorts of situations she gets into so the bottle couldn't possibly be good luck. On the other hand, she always manages to pull it out in the end so maybe that's the good part. Steph really needs some mega-good luck in this one. Her cousin Vinnie, owner of the bail bonds office and her boss, is missing. Vinnie has been kidnapped on account of owing oodles of money to his bookie. Steph attempts to hunt down a couple of regular skips with predictable results but spends most of this book trying to rescue Vinnie and pay his ransom. She enlists the help of Connie, the bail bonds office manager, who is really good with stink bombs, and Lula, file clerk, former 'ho and Steph's right-hand woman, who is really good with doughnuts.
Ranger, mystery stud, and Joe Morelli, unmysterious stud, reprise their roles here as well. Ranger plays a larger role in this novel and is atypically loquacious for him. This is a surprise and there is a bigger surprise in store on this subject. As for Morelli, he does his usual thing, shows up right after one of Steph's escapades to check on her. Can anyone count the number of destroyed vehicles in her wake? I am left wondering how long Ms. Evanovich can keep up the tension between Steph and these two men. 
In the end, rescue comes from odd and unexpected places and we find out what's up with that lucky bottle.

BONUS!! Exciting news for Stephanie Plum fans! One For the Money, the first book in the series, is being made into a movie starring Katherine Heigel. Of course, the fun is over for all of you (and this includes me) who were making a game of casting the movie...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What Would Keith Richards Do?

On Fashion and Style: 

"I love books ... a well-dressed mind!"

How To Talk To A Widower

Jonathan Tropper
Bantam Dell A Division of Random House, Inc. 
Published July 2007, 341 pages
ISBN 978-0-385-33891-2
From my personal library
Rating: 4 - Really liked this read

"I had a wife. Her name was Hailey. Now she's gone. And so am I."
This is Doug's mantra. He is 29 years old. He had been married to Hailey for 2 years when she died in a plane crash. Hailey has been dead for a year now and Doug is trying to cope with himself, her house in suburban Westchester and her teenage son Russ, both of which he inherited. He is pretty much making a hash of things. He self-medicates: drinks a lot, smokes a little weed, eats nothing but frozen artery-clogging food and hides from friends and family.
Then one day his twin sister Claire arrives on his lawn and announces her plans to patch him up and push him out into the rest of his life. Doug reluctantly agrees to the plan.
What happens after this is usually hilarious and often bittersweet, involving
Russ, Doug's boss and job, his family, a few blind dates, a wedding and a shooting. But relax, the comedy is not irresponsible or disrespectful. Doug does not suddenly snap out of his depression but evolves realistically over the course of another year. This is a satisfying read. You don't have to work too hard but there's still plenty of substance. It will leave a smile on your face.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What Would Keith Richards Do?

"If I choose one, I'll be killing all my other babies."
                    -when asked to name his favorite song

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What Would Keith Richards Do?



I recently read a book by Jessica Pallington West about Keith ("Keef") Richards, guitarist, songwriter, singer, record producer and co-founder of the Rolling Stones; known to the world as "The Human Riff." The book was mainly a collection of quotes and a timeline of Keith's life and times. As such I didn't think the book lent itself to reviewing. Instead I have decided to post a quote each day featuring the wit and wisdom from one of rock's greatest personalities. 

I have been looking for reasons to do this on my blog and have come up with the following: Keith is a Lord Byron figure. He is a bookworm and collector. Photos of his library have been featured in magazines. He has declared that "... the public library is a great equaliser." Keith has also been known to leave favorite volumes bedside for his guests. I am looking forward to his autobiography, titled "Life," which will be published in October.
Also, I have a serious crush and that, my dears, is all the reason I need. So here we go, our first Keith Richards quote. On Creativity and Invention:

"A painter's got a canvas. The writer's got reams of empty paper. A musician has silence." 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

American Salvage

Stories by Bonnie Jo Campbell                                 
Published 2009 167 pages                                                      
Wayne State University Press Detroit
ISBN 978-0-8143-3412-6
From my personal library
Rating: 3 - Pretty good

American Salvage, a product of the Made in Michigan Writers Series at Wayne State University Press Detroit, is a collection of fourteen short stories written by Bonnie Jo Campbell.

Each of these stories is set in down-and-out rural Michigan. Most of the characters are damaged by poverty. Some of these families are laboring under poverty so exhaustive that it seemingly offers no hope for a better life. Simple things can be a crisis for these families: the gas bill, dinner, school shoes for a child. These things rise to the level of crisis because the characters cannot conceive of the long term because the short term necessarily commands all of their effort and attention. For the most part this is all they have ever known. They believe that they are doing all they can but not gaining any ground. Consequently, they fall into a belief that they are at the mercy of "others," whether it be the family, the boss or the government (Y2K!) They feel powerless against these forces.

This is best illustrated by a young girl from The Inventor. "She has long imagined her future spreading out before her, gloriously full of love and discovery; she has been waiting for the future to arrive like a plate full of fancy appetizers in a restaurant, like a lush bunch of roses placed in her arms, like the biggest birthday cake with the brightest candles, baked and lit by people who love her."  This is a response and an accommodation of poverty; not imagining she could go out and create a future for herself, difficult as it would surely be.

My two favorite things:

This is my favorite quote from the collection: "It landed with a resounding clang on the pile of catalytic converters- mostly they were dirty and rusted from the slush and mud and road salt, but each of their bodies contained a core of platinum."  This is from King Cole's American Salvage. The character in this scene performs back-breaking labor outside in all types of weather, for little money, in an auto salvage yard, but he has plans and determination and resolve to make a better life for himself. This may sound odd to compare human potential to a catalytic converter but I take the quote as a metaphor. Some of us don't look like much on the outside but there's a valuable core of promise.

My favorite character is Jill from Boar Taint. She has discovered a way of coping with her economic circumstances. She indulges herself by buying gourmet chocolate bars one at a time. She keeps them in her underwear drawer and breaks off one square each night until the bar is gone. Then she goes out and buys another. This small act says that Jill still believes she is valuable; that she does indeed have a core of platinum.

American Salvage has won an impressive number of awards: 2010 Michigan Notable Awards, 2010 National Book Critic Circle Book Award, Stuart and Venice Gross Award for Excellence in Literature from SVSU, 2009 National Book Award Finalist, and the 2009 ForeWord Book of the Year Award. If you are a fan of realist American regionalism (as I am) and a fan of short stories (ditto) then you may find many things to like in this collection. However, if you are not a fan of these genres then you should probably pass by American Salvage. It is not for the faint of heart.

I give this a 3- pretty good.

And remember that love does not conquer meth!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Storm Prey by John Sandford

Published May 2010 408 pages
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
ISBN 9781101187715
From my personal library (read in Sony Reader format)
Rating: 4 - Really liked this

Storm Prey is number twenty in John Sanford's Prey series. Rules of Prey, published in 1989, is the first book in the series. It introduced our hero Lucas Davenport, a Minneapolis cop. Davenport is my favorite character in the mystery genre. He's intelligent, funny, sexy, fearless and perfectly smooth. Davenport is a man of appetites.
Storm Prey was published 20 years after Rules of Prey and finds Davenport promoted to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. His wife is Weather Karkinnen - the most fabulous name ever, yes? She is a plastic surgeon and saved Davenport's life a few books ago by performing an emergency tracheotomy in the middle of nowhere on a frigid Minnesota winter night.
Storm Prey begins with the robbery of a pharmacy in the hospital where Weather practices. As the robbers are making their escape from the parking garage Weather pulls in and gets a good look at them. The robbers decide to eliminate the only witness. Lucas calls in all of the old characters, Shrake, Del, Virgil Flowers, Jenkins, to protect Weather. At this point the book takes off and the suspense doesn't let up as Lucas and his merry men take off in pursuit of the bad guys.
There is a subplot involving an operation to separate conjoined twins in which Weather is a key member of the surgical team. I'm not sure why this subplot is necessary. I found it a little distracting. The author is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and obviously did his homework regarding the separation of conjoined twins. A little research of my own finds that Sandford published a book in 1989 titled Plastic Surgery: The Kindest Cut.  Perhaps this is where he got his inspiration.
My favorite thing about these books, besides my crush on Davenport, is the dialogue. It is quick, funny, smart and fun to read. Sandford describes the robbers as "hard men." Spare but enough. In the context of that scene you know exactly what he means. Another hallmark of the Prey books is the bad guys. They are multi-dimensional. They have pasts and personalities and you can see the pathology of their thinking. The author spent a month at a prison in Minnesota interviewing inmates. He came to the conclusion, stated in an interview, that most criminals turn out ultimately to be mundane; nothing special, although they would dearly like to believe they are.
I highly recommend this book (and the entire Prey series) for fans of quality mysteries. And for what it's worth I would read the Prey series again and that's very rare for me.
Also, as a cool tidbit, I have included a link to a list of Lucas Davenport's favorite songs from Sandford's web site. Enjoy!   http://www.johnsandford.org/prey16x1.html