David Koeppel
May 23, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

While marriage and fatherhood may have mellowed supercop Lucas Davenport, he’s lost none of his powers of deduction. In his 14th go-around, he investigates the politically explosive murders of a black man and a white woman, discovered hanging naked from a tree in the Minnesota woods. Soon, Davenport uncovers a corrupt community in which everyone from a mechanic to an ex-nun is keeping secrets. Sandford maintains a gripping level of tension despite predictable twists and lapses into sentimentality (Davenport’s saccharine encounters with a feisty 12-year-old girl whose intuitive detective work helps solve the case). Like its hero, though, Sandford’s series is aging gracefully.

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