Cover image of "Dead Watch," a novel that appears to be the start of a new bestselling series

John Roswell Camp, aka John Sandford, is the author of nearly four dozen books, the bestselling 25-book Prey series most prominent among them. Lucas Davenport of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension stars in the series, often assisted by the crack investigator Virgil Flowers (who sports his own eight-book series).

A new bestselling series?

Dead Watch bears all the signs of a new series coming on. Sandford has moved the setting from the Twin Cities to Washington, DC, where Jacob Winter works as a freelance “researcher” for the White House. However, job description is a euphemism; he’s a political trouble-shooter. Jake is 33 years old and is a former soldier in the Special Forces in Afghanistan, where he was wounded in the leg by shrapnel and now uses a cane to help him get around.

The President’s Chief of Staff has called Jake in to wrestle a particularly threatening crisis to the ground: a former right-wing U.S. Senator from Virginia has disappeared, and his outspoken wife is making loud noise about it. Jake’s assignment: to find the missing Senator as quickly as possible. Though Jake, like the President, is a moderate Democrat and the missing Senator’s wife, Madison Bowe, shares her husband’s Republican politics, the chemistry starts boiling between the two when they meet early in the course of Jake’s investigation.

Dead Watch by John Sandford ★★★★☆

The plot thickens

Madison (“Maddy”) is convinced that the Governor of Virginia, Arlo Goodman, has kidnapped her husband. The Bowes’ hatred for the Governor runs deep: Goodman used dirty tricks to sabotage the Senator’s reelection campaign. Goodman, though nominally a Democrat, has created a paramilitary force called The Watchers, which Maddy and Jake both suspect is behind the Senator’s disappearance. However, the story is far more complicated than that — and it’s suspenseful to the end.

Jake Winter is a fascinating character with sufficient depth to become the protagonist of another long-running Sandford series. I, for one, would like to see that happen.

Before turning to writing fiction full-time, Sandford worked for The Miami Herald and later The Saint Paul Pioneer Press, where he won a Pulitzer for features writing.

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