Robert Crais (Free Fall
, Monkey's Raincoat
) returns with his eighth Elvis Cole mystery, L.A. Requiem
, a breakneck caper that leaves the wise-cracking detective second-guessing himself. Cole's partner, the tight-lipped, charm-free Joe Pike, gets a call from his friend Frank "Tortilla" Garcia. Not only is Garcia a wealthy businessman, he's a political heavyweight and father of Karen, Joe's ex. Frank sends the gumshoe duo out to find his girl, but the boys are beaten to the punch by the men in blue: Karen is found in a park with a bullet in her brain. The two stay on the case, but when another murder points to Pike as a suspect, things take a turn for the worse. The boys on the force are all too willing to put Pike away--he has a checkered past. When Cole attempts to save Pike, he finds a lot more than he bargained for.
Crais's knack for snappy dialogue and clean-cut scenes bespeak his former days as a writer for the award-winning Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law: "Krantz's mouth split into a reptilian smile, and I wondered what was playing out here. He said, 'I want this man questioned, Lieutenant. If Pike here knows the vic, maybe he knows how she got like this." Pike said, 'It won't happen, pants.' Krantz's face went deep red, and an ugly web of veins pulsed in his forehead. I moved close to Pike. 'Is there something happening here that I should know about?'"
From Publishers Weekly
In his eighth book about wise-cracking Los Angeles private detective Elvis Cole, Crais has expanded his narrative reach and broadened his characters' horizons to produce a mature work that deserves to move him up a notch or twoAinto Parker or Connelly country. He's done this by focusing on Joe Pike, Cole's tough and hitherto totally enigmatic partner. It's Pike who breaks in on Cole's reunion with Lucy Chenier, his lawyer/broadcaster lover who has just moved from New Orleans, to ask for Elvis's help in tracking down the missing daughter of a rich and powerful Hispanic businessman. When the girl turns up murdered in Griffith Park, it's Pike who gives a nerdy medical examiner valuable assistance; and when it turns out that the girl's death is linked to several other murders, it's Pike who is charged with killing the chief suspect. Through flashbacks to Joe's past life as an abused child, a highly motivated teenage soldier and an L.A. cop fighting to keep a corrupt partner from destroying his family, we learn more about Pike than we did in the seven previous Cole books. This new focus also allows Crais to keep Elvis's often annoying throwaway lines to a minimumAalthough more pruning could have been done with no loss of flavor. The book's scope is wide enough to include many other memorable characters, especially a rough-edged, vulnerable police officer named Samantha Dolan, plus a choice of plausible villains. There may be one too many metaphoric descriptions attempting to link aspects of the L.A. landscape with the moods and deeds of its inhabitants, but overall Crais seems to have successfully stretched himself the way another Southern California writerARoss MacdonaldAalways tried to do, to write a mystery novel with a solid literary base.
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