Rules of Prey is an excellent detective thriller.
As always, with these kinds of novels that go on to becomes long-running series, the book stars a serial killer as the antagonist. This serial killer, Louis, ticks all the boxes — physically weak, uncharismatic and being a creep, a lack of morals, some deep seated issues and is quite smart. While this might sound like a cookie cutter villain, the author has done a decent job of making him menacing and repugnant. The author’s decision to not give Louis a proper origin story, goes a long way towards making him compelling enough.
The protagonist, Lucas Davenport, is a more interesting choice. He is a bit of Gary Stu, admittedly, being smart, physically strong and attractive, rich, and having his own special office in the Minneapolis Police Department. But, at the same time, he is hard, quite willing to bend the rules (willing to frame or even kill those he thinks are guilty) and a philanderer. So it is a tossup whether you will root for this character or even like him, in the first place. I liked this kind of mixing of attributes. While not explicitly giving him a stereotypical weakness like a drug addiction (Holmes) or being French (Poirot, but he is Belgian), having a fractious relationship with his department (Bosch) or any of the thousand ones out there, these negative attributes help make the character more human, dislikable and no less competent at his job.
The plot is average until it gets into the cat and mouse game between Louis and Lucas, where it becomes pretty good. The interplay between the two of them is also great, once they start trying to outsmart each other.
The pacing is quite good. I found the initial pages dragging a bit but then the pacing improved. Somewhere around the one-third mark I was hooked.
Overall, I liked Rule of Prey. It ticks all the boxes needed to stand-out in this genre