Sandford's Latest: A Thriller with a Rock Countdown In John Sandford's new thriller Broken Prey, middle-aged Minneapolis police officer Lucas Davenport takes time out from crime-solving to compile a list of the top 100 rock songs for a road trip.
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Sandford's Latest: A Thriller with a Rock Countdown

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Sandford's Latest: A Thriller with a Rock Countdown

Sandford's Latest: A Thriller with a Rock Countdown

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

Coming up, climbing blind. But first, John Sandford has a new thriller out, the latest in his series of novels about a Minneapolis cop named Lucas Davenport. "Broken Prey" starts with a murder. Looking at the crime scene, Lucas Davenport and his colleagues realize they're looking at the work of a deranged killer. But after the preliminary investigation goes nowhere, they understand that they have no idea how to find him, and that he's likely to kill again.

The story is compelling enough, but the novel has yet another feature that sets it apart: a soundtrack of traveling music. Even a top-flight detective needs a little dose of Chuck Berry in his car.

(Soundbite of "Roll Over Beethoven")

Mr. CHUCK BERRY: (Singing) Roll over, Beethoven. Roll over, Beethoven. Roll over, Beethoven.

WERTHEIMER: John Sandford joins us from his home state of Minnesota.

John Sandford, welcome.

Mr. JOHN SANDFORD (Author, "Broken Prey"): Oh, thank you for having me.

WERTHEIMER: Now Lucas Davenport has aged in these books. He's in his 40s now.

Mr. SANDFORD: Yes, he has. Yes, late 40s.

WERTHEIMER: And one of the motifs in this book is that someone gives this middle-aged guy an iPod, and he decides to make a compilation of the world's best 100 rock 'n' roll songs with an emphasis on road trips. He starts with what he thinks is the best road trip song of all, and that's ZZ Top "Legs."

(Soundbite of "Legs")

ZZ TOP: (Singing) She's got hair down to her fanny. She's kinda jet set, try undo her panties.

Mr. SANDFORD: Almost all good road trip stuff is ZZ Top. I mean, that's my personal opinion and I put it in the book.

WERTHEIMER: Obviously, this is your list, right?

Mr. SANDFORD: Yes, it is. All the way through. I also grew up with rock 'n' roll. Any list like this has got to be a little bit idiosyncratic. You can't just take the top 100 songs from, you know, the Rolling Stone's top 500 songs of all time list and agree with it because that's just not the way it works.

WERTHEIMER: I was kind of surprised to see The Pointer Sisters on your list.

Mr. SANDFORD: Hey, I like the song, and I think Lucas Davenport would like the song.

(Soundbite of "Slow Hand")

THE POINTER SISTERS: (Singing) I want a man with a slow hand. I want a lover with an easy touch. I want somebody who will spend some time, not come and go...

WERTHEIMER: Do you think you know what Lucas Davenport likes?

Mr. SANDFORD: Yeah, I do, because in some cases, you have to base it to some extent on yourself or you'll forget about him. So Lucas and I have almost no characteristics in common, but he is my height, for example, and he has my eye color because then I don't have to remember that. And I, quite frankly, find great joy--I go on one road trip every year--last year, I drove all the way up to the north coast of Alaska, up in the Arctic Ocean--and you got to have the right music to go on a road trip. And there's nothing like driving across the prairie and going from one little radio station to the next and hearing all these different kinds of music. It's just--I mean, it's one of the things I enjoy most in life, and I think Lucas would, too.

WERTHEIMER: Now this novel is complicated. You've given him a lot of problems.

Mr. SANDFORD: The thing is, is that detection is not easy, and you can't give a guy like Davenport an easy problem and then call it a novel; it's going to have to be hard someway. And this one played on something that I see more and more in police work now, and that is sort of the belief in the infallibility of DNA. And I thought that was sort of an element that was sort of interesting.

WERTHEIMER: Also, burnout going on. One of them, who has been a character in all of the books, just says, you know, `This is it for me. I am so out of here.'

Mr. SANDFORD: Right, especially with children being killed. And I do not show children being killed in my book because I can't stand that subject. But occasionally a child gets killed in my books. That really hurts cops a lot. I'm not able to deal with it, and neither was Lucas' friend. After a while, he couldn't deal with it anymore.

WERTHEIMER: So when you go back to the series, I mean, how--you're spinning this thing for a long, long time here. This has got to be--Does it get harder to do?

Mr. SANDFORD: It gets harder and harder and--I mean, there really is a problem keeping it fresh, and that's what causes me to sweat all the time. And that's really why I sort of reverted to the old-style Davenport in this one, the real cop story, to kind of refreshen a series that had gone on for a very long time. The next Davenport--which I'm already starting to process through my head, but--although this is two years out--is going to be literally a road trip, and it's going to start here in the Twin Cities with the discovery of a couple of skeletons. It then winds up either in Los Angeles or Las Vegas depending on how far West I can get in the time that I'm writing it.

WERTHEIMER: John Sandford, thank you very much.

Mr. SANDFORD: Thank you for having me.

WERTHEIMER: John Sandford. His new book is "Broken Prey."

(Soundbite of "Born to Run")

Mr. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing) Baby, we were born to run. Oh, honey, tramps like us...

WERTHEIMER: You can see all 100 of Lucas Davenport's best songs of the rock era at our Web site,

(Soundbite of "Born to Run")

Mr. SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing) Come on, Wendy. Tramps like us, baby, we were born to run.

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