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Posted: December 4, 2022

The Night Crew stands out in complexity and characterization

Book Review

By Derryll White

Sandford, John (1997).  The Night Crew.

John Sandford sits at the top of the action/thriller pyramid, writing endless novels and selling millions of copies all over the world.  This is an early novel for him and it stands out in complexity and characterization.

Sandford establishes the main character, Anna Batori, very quickly and keeps on building her throughout the novel, adding layers of intriguing complexity.

The story is unconventional – a freelance TV news crew with three main characters, situated in Los Angeles. The whole process of chasing the news late at night is compelling – action without a lot of gunfights.  The story’s plot has a fast pace that never lets up.  Sandford is very good at this, building tension and focus as the characters reveal themselves and their communities of interest.

Anna Batori is a very strong representative of the way news is made and broadcast each evening, and she offers a perspective on what is real and what is simply story.  She is good-looking, decisive, tough and she does not back away, even when reason dictates that she should.  Sandford keeps building her, beginning to end, and creates a character that any reader would like to know personally.

This is early Sandford, 25 years ago and just at the time that he moved into the “Prey” series with his character Lucas Davenport.  This novel and his early “Kidd” series seem stronger, more exciting than the “Prey” and “Virgil Flowers” works of later years.

Throughout his career, however, John Sandford has delivered quality action/thrillers to an ever-expanding audience.


Excerpts from the novel:

HUMOUR – He stopped in a gravel patch in front of the garage.  As the got out, a car passed on the road at the bottom of the hill, honked twice, and Harper waved.  “Widow-lady neighbor,” he said.

“Hmm, “ Anna said.  “Attractive, rich….”

“Blonde, and got the big, you know….”


“Exactly the word I was groping for.”

“Yeah, grope,” she said.

SCENE – The night was so deep that it seemed like a piece of black velvet had been folded over the car, the only relief came from the dark-walled tunnel carved out of the BMW’s high beams.

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at

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