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Easy Prey Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Most of the themes of Easy Prey are submerged in the large social concerns. For example, concerns regarding violence and the influence of the media find expression in the contrast between civilization and nature. When comparing the big city and its suburbs to small cities out in the country, Tom Olson says, "We see it in Fargo, but you can still fight it there. Here . . . this place is gone. Too late for this place. Too late. You'll see." Smaller, rural towns, closer to nature/are more protected from the dangers present in the big cities.

Sandford reinforces the contrast between nature and culture with his protagonist's entry into the story. Davenport begins the book out at his country cabin on a lake. He goes for a friendly morning of companionable fishing with a friend. We see how he allows a neighbor to store a tractor at his place, and then, as a favor, Davenport hauls a boat back to a farmer's house. The lake community appears to resemble an old-fashioned small town of friends. As soon as Davenport heads back into the big city, he meets the woman he is going to consider committing adultery with, and he is swept into the big, drug-related murder case. All the peace and quiet of the country have vanished.

Of course, even in the big city certain positive attributes exist. The city is not without friendship and loyalty. The tremendous concern all the detectives show for their wounded comrade, Marcy Sherrill, is very touching, reinforcing the theme of loyalty. After having so many unsympathetic characters portrayed and killed, it is refreshing for the reader to be concerned over the death of a character, or a potential death in this case, because through cheering for Sherrill to survive, the value of human life is reinforced.

Among the characters concerned for Sherrill, Davenport in particular shines. Though the two had a romance in the past, Davenport appears to do a better job of showing emotion for a woman he is not currently involved with than for any of his current romantic interests. That said, having a friend hovering on the brink of death is a relatively easy situation within which to show concern, so although the theme of emotional loyalty is present even in the city, not too much can be made of it.