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5.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood Meets the Real World
If you have yet to begin the marvelous Elvis Cole series by Robert Crais, you've got a great treat ahead of you! Few series get off to a stronger start than Mr. Crais did with The Monkey's Raincoat, which won both the Anthony and Macavity awards for best novel while being nominated for the Edgar and Shamus awards as well. Stalking the Angel followed powerfully with...
Published on May 15 2003 by Donald Mitchell

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars More one sided characters than an Arnold flick!
A pompous director comes to Elvis Cole's office searching for his estranged wife and kid. Elvis, with his usual cool sarcastic reception, reluctantly takes the assignment and traces her to the New England. What ensues is a violent conflict between her, the director, and more importantly, the mob.
The sarcastic Elvis and stoic Joe Pike continue their adventures in...
Published on Feb. 17 2002 by sporkdude


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5.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood Meets the Real World, May 15 2003
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Lullaby Town (Paperback)
If you have yet to begin the marvelous Elvis Cole series by Robert Crais, you've got a great treat ahead of you! Few series get off to a stronger start than Mr. Crais did with The Monkey's Raincoat, which won both the Anthony and Macavity awards for best novel while being nominated for the Edgar and Shamus awards as well. Stalking the Angel followed powerfully with classic noir style of the 1930s hard-boiled detective up against evil, but moderated with wise cracks. And the books just keep getting better from there in their characterizations, action, story-telling and excitement.
Elvis Cole is the star attraction, the co-owner of The Elvis Cole Detective Agency. He's now 38, ex-Army, served in Vietnam, ex-security guard, has two years of college, learned to be a detective by working under George Feider, a licensed P.I. for over 40 years, does martial arts as enthusiastically as most people do lunch, and is fearless but not foolish. He's out to right the wrongs of the world as much as he is to earn a living. Elvis has a thing for Disney characters (including a Pinocchio clock), kids, cats, scared clients and rapid fire repartee. He drives a Jamaica yellow 1966 Corvette Stingray convertible, and usually carries a .38 Special Dan Wesson.
His main foil is partner, Joe Pike, an ex-Marine, ex-cop who moves quietly and mysteriously wearing shades even in the dark . . . when he's not scaring the bad guys with the red arrows tattooed on his deltoids, which are usually bare in sleeveless shirts. Although he's got an office with Elvis, Pike spends all of his time at his gun shop when not routing the bad guys with martial arts while carrying and often using enough firepower to stop a tank. Pike rarely speaks . . . and never smiles. A standing gag is trying to catch Pike with a little twitch of his lips indicating he might possibly be amused. But he's there when you need him. He drives a red Jeep.
Robert Parker's Spenser is the obvious character parallel for Elvis, but Spenser and Elvis are different in some ways. Cole is more solitary, usually being alone when he's not working. Cole is very much L.A. and Spenser is ultra blue collar Boston. Cole is martial arts while Spenser boxes and jogs. What they have in common is that they're both out to do the right thing, with money being unimportant. They both love to crack wise as they take on the bad guys. The bad guys hate the "humor" in both cases, and can't do much about it. The dialogue written for each is intensely rich.
Mr. Crais has a special talent for making you care about his characters, especially the clients and their kids. You'll want to know what happens to them. With a lot of experience in script writing, Mr. Crais also knows how to set the scene physically and make you feel it. He may be out finest fiction writer about physical movement. He gives you all the clues to picture what's going on . . . but draws back from giving so much detail that you can't use your own imagination to make things better.
I grew up near Los Angeles, and get a special pleasure out of reading his descriptions of the differences in cities, neighborhoods, and buildings in the area. He gets in right . . . and in detail. It's a nice touch!
On to Lullaby Town, the third book in the series. The title refers to the peddler who sells dreams in Lullaby Town. In our case, it's Hollywood.
The peddler in the story is Peter Alan Nelson, a motion picture director dubbed as the King of Adventure by Time magazine (think Steven Spielberg and George Lucas wrapped up into one hyper personality), which also called him "arrogant, brilliant, demanding." In real life, he has the maturity of a male 2 year old, and has worse habits. Elvis is hired to find Nelson's ex-wife and child so Nelson can form a relationship with his son, whom he's ignored virtually from birth. The studio doesn't want Nelson distracted by all this yearning for his son because he's due to start a new movie in three weeks.
Elvis has no trouble finding the ex and the son. They've left a trail a mile wide across the country to Connecticut where Nelson's mousy young wife has turned herself into a successful banker who doesn't want to hear anything from Nelson. At this point, Elvis's job would amount to bringing them all together gently . . . except that the ex, who now calls herself Karen Lloyd, has a little problem with the biggest crime family in the East. Elvis and Joe set out to eliminate the little problem and are tested to the limits of their talents.
The story develops rapidly in small segments from quite different perspectives, usually in chapters of 4-5 pages in length, like a scene in a drama. Each change adds to a mosaic portrait of the characters and the overall situation. So the story moves fast . . . but without leaving you behind. There is enough material in this book to make two novels.
Pay particular attention to the evolution of characters of Karen Lloyd and Peter Alan Nelson. Mr. Crais does a nice job of helping you realize many sides of their characters over a period of about 10 years. That's one quality that makes this book compelling reading.
After you finish the book, you might find it helpful to think about the potential downside of possessing all that you dream of having.
Can you select better dreams to turn into reality?
Donald Mitchell
Co-author of The 2,000 Percent Solution, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage
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4.0 out of 5 stars "There's a quaint little place...", Dec 24 2002
This review is from: Lullaby Town (Paperback)
Most detectives would give their eyeteeth to be hired by a director as famous as Peter Alan Nelson, the king of the adventure movie. Admittedly, the job was only one of finding Nelson's ex-wife and child who he hasn't seen in eleven years. Suddenly, after dumping them for a film career Nelson feels a gap in his life which he intends to plug with Toby, his son, like it or not. Nelson likes Elvis Cole because the detective is macho and has lots of attitude. You can imagine what Cole actually thought, but sometimes money is money.
Cole finds out that Nelson's wife is far from the loser that the director thought she was. He finds Karen Lloyd in Chelam, Connecticut. The failed actress has become a bank vice-president, raising her son on her own and doing well. Not as well as she should be, though. In the hard days, she did a favor for the mafia and now she's in Charlie DeLuca's back pocket. Since Charlie is the son of the Capo and a complete psychotic, this is not a good place to be. No problem, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike to the rescue.
By now, the reader should know that Pike/Cole solutions inevitably involve a surfeit of chaos and violence. This time is no exception. Cole has to worry about Toby, the mafia (several mafias), Peter Alan Nelson (who never behaves as if he is as old as Toby), and a steady flow of crazies. Something a lot worse than a little money laundering is going on and Cole is stuck right in the middle of it. Being Robert Crais' answer to the tired old archetype of the Los Angeles private investigator, you can trust Cole to smiles, cracks sarcastic jokes, play hero, and wait until you're not looking before he hits you up side of the head with a cast iron two-by-four.
This book, the third in the series, drags just a bit. Or perhaps, it is just a little too predictable. I like the interchanges between Pike and Cole, and the plot twists that it starts with, but the novel settles down into its plot too soon. The inevitable violence comes arrives early and is over played. Still, this is a pretty good read, not one a fan would ever want to miss.
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better Elvis Cole novels, Feb. 14 2002
This review is from: Lullaby Town (Paperback)
Twelve years ago, Karen Shipley was seventeen years old and had dreams of becoming a movie star. She married a struggling film director and had a son with him. Fourteen months into the marriage her husband leaves her and she goes and tries to start a new life.
Twelve years later, Peter Alan Nelsen, Karen's former husband, is one of the most successful film directors in Hollywood. For some unexplained reason he wants to mend out his wrongs and try to find her ex-wife and son. He wants to be a part of his son's life so he hires Elvis Cole to try to find her. Elvis finds Karen, now living a somewhat idyllic life, and her whole world turns upside down once she is found.
This is one of the better Elvis Cole novels that I read. He does a good job in fleshing out Karen's character from the naïve girl she used to be to the mature single mom trying to do right for her son. She had to do some sacrifices for her son. Her story was well told and it seemed plausible.
Peter Alan Nelsen has never grown up and he is a caricature of the overly rich and famous. He is arrogant, pompous and egotistical. The circumstances in the book will turn him into someone wanting to be a better person. I was becoming disappointed with the Elvis Cole novels but this one might just change my mind. Elvis is still his wise guy self and his partner, Joe Pike is still the strong silent type. I liked that Crais used this novel to do more character development with Cole's clients while still giving something about Cole and Pike for any first timer reading his stories.
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better Elvis Cole novels, Feb. 14 2002
This review is from: Lullaby Town (Paperback)
Twelve years ago, Karen Shipley was seventeen years old and had dreams of becoming a movie star. She married a struggling film director and had a son with him. Fourteen months into the marriage her husband leaves her and she goes and tries to start a new life.
Twelve years later, Peter Alan Nelsen, Karen's former husband, is one of the most successful film directors in Hollywood. For some unexplained reason he wants to mend out his wrongs and try to find her ex-wife and son. He wants to be a part of his son's life so he hires Elvis Cole to try to find her. Elvis finds Karen, now living a somewhat idyllic life, and her whole world turns upside down once she is found.
This is one of the better Elvis Cole novels that I read. He does a good job in fleshing out Karen's character from the naïve girl she used to be to the mature single mom trying to do right for her son. She had to do some sacrifices for her son. Her story was well told and it seemed believable.
Peter Alan Nelsen has never grown up and he is a caricature of the overly rich and famous. He is arrogant, pompous and egotistical. The circumstances in the book will turn him into someone wanting to be a better person. I was becoming disappointed with the Elvis Cole novels but this one might just change my mind. Elvis is still his wise guy self and his partner, Joe Pike is still the strong silent type. I liked that Crais used this novel to do more character development with Cole's clients while still giving something about Cole and Pike for any first timer reading his stories.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Getting better and better, Dec 27 2001
By 
John R. Linnell (New Gloucester, ME United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lullaby Town (Paperback)
If you have read other reviews of mine of Mr. Crais's books, you will know that I read his latest three books first (loved them) and then started with the Elvis Cole series at the beginning. I have not found the first two up to the standards the author now sets for himself, but I liked this book quite a lot. The wise cracking is eased off and Elvis gets himself involved in a situation that takes some doing to solve and it is done in a fairly believeable way. I hope that as the series progresses he continues to improve to the level of L.A. Requiem.
In this book Elvis has been hired by a big shot Hollywood producer to find his ex-wife and son as he thinks after 12 years it is time to be a Dad. Well, Mom and son have moved from LA to Chelam, Connecticutt. Mom has made a life for herself and son, Toby, without any help from the big shot and it is not wanted now.
However, Mom has this little problem of having been co-opted by the Mafia to do some money laundering (she is a branch bank manager) and while she would like to end the relationship, the Mafioso that has used her has other ideas.
Soon all of the characters are in the same vicinity and it takes all of Elvis's and Joe Pike's efforts to keep matters from dissolving into a large pool of blood. How they do it is the point of these easy reading novels and why we keep coming back for more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Pinocchio Clock Sees All, July 13 2001
By 
Chad Spivak (North Miami Beach, Florida) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lullaby Town (Paperback)
How can you not love a private investigator that has Disney figurines in his office? This is just another well-written book by Robert Crais, the third in the Elvis Cole mystery series.
Private investigator Elvis Cole is hired by overactive director Peter Alan Nelson to find his divorced wife and young son. His search takes him to a small town in Connecticut, where the ex-wife has taken on a new identity as a bank manager. Simple enough? Not for Elvis! It turns out that she has been laundering money for one of the largest organized crime families in New York, and she wishes to get out, but fears for the lives of herself and her son, Toby. The story becomes even more complicated, as the money laundering appears to be isolated to one mob family member, as he seems to be back-stabbing the rest. To make matters worse, the deep-pocketed Nelson turns up as he wants to re-enter their lives, a step that they are just not willing to make yet.
Cole's partner, Joe Pike, is back along for the adventure, adding that ever-so-serious, vigilante-type background. Pike's character is the perfect compliment to Cole, making for a much more complete storyline. As always, Cole's witty dialogue and his well-detailed actions lead to a very entertaining thriller.
Robert Crais does a masterful job of covering all aspects of the mystery, and keeps the reader guessing as to how Elvis and Joe can rescue this family from the mafia. The book is one excellent page-turning novel that culminates in an amazing, explosive ending. This is definately one Elvis Cole adventure that you will not want to miss.
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5.0 out of 5 stars World's Greatest Detective, May 28 2001
By 
Untouchable (Sydney, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lullaby Town (Paperback)
Elvis Cole, "the world's greatest detective", is hired by Hollywood director Peter Alan Nelson to find his ex-wife, Karen, and son, Toby. His search takes him to small-town Connecticut where, once he finds Karen and her son, finds himself in the middle of problems involving the Mafia.
Pithy comment follows dry-witted humour in another very enjoyable detective story with the irrepressible Elvis Cole in control. For the first two chapters I found that I was chuckling to myself at least once per page as Elvis met the self-centered, big-shot director client, Peter Alan Nelsen. Although the humour doesn't continue at this pace, a light-hearted feel is maintained throughout the whole book. If you like your detective stories slightly on the humorous side with just a little bit of danger thrown in for spice, then this book (and all the Elvis Cole books) are just perfect.
Although this book is part of an ongoing series, it isn't really necessary to read it in the order that it was written. While the main characters are the same (Elvis and Joe Pike), previous plots aren't divulged.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Hit from Robert Crais, Nov. 27 2000
By 
Bill Wise (Gorham, ME USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lullaby Town (Paperback)
Lullaby Town exemplifies the quality we have come to expect from Robert Crais. I have read previous Crais novels and this book is just as well written as the others. For people who like crime fiction, Lullaby Town is sure to please you. It is well written and keeps you involved the entire way.It was difficult to put the book down. All of Mr. Crais's Elvis Cole novels are well done; this is just another one of his typical works. Cole, the main character, is native to Hollywood. So when he is asked by a famous Hollywood director, Peter Alan Nelsen, to locate Nelson's ex-wife and son, Cole takes it in stride. His search takes him to a small Connecticut town. This makes the novel different than the others in the Elvis Cole series. Elvis is removed from his element, L.A and Hollywood and dumped into a small town. However, just because it is a small town does not mean there is any less wrong doing. By removing Cole from his usual surroundings it reveals more about him. Cole appears to have matured. For those who have been reading all of the Elvis Cole novels it is obvious that Cole has matured. We see things in him that are not as apparent in Los Angeles. Later, Cole is lead to the Big Apple to take on the Mob. For those people who are willing to look past the fact that this is just another typical crime fiction, or detective mystery, this novel is a total hit. You feel as though you are shadowing Elvis Cole as he hunts down the ex-wife of Peter Alan Nelsen. I found myself feeling as though I were part of the plot. The novel is truly riveting and keeps you reading. The duo of Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, Elvis's partner, is guaranteed to keep you interested and curious.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Music, Nov. 14 2000
This review is from: Lullaby Town (Paperback)
Robert Crais takes Elvis Cole on the road in Lullaby Town. After the first two books in the series took place in exclusively in the L.A. area, Mr. Crais sends Elvis across the country to the East Coast. The book starts out with Elvis being contacted by Peter Alan Nelsen, who is a big time action movie director, to locate his missing first wife and son. The meeting between Elvis and Nelsen at Nelsen's office is hilarious. In Peter Alan Nelsen, Mr. Crais perfectly captures the stereotypical, self-absorbed Hollywood type. After Elvis takes the case, his search leads him to a sleepy little Connecticut town where he locates Karen (the first wife) and Toby (the son). What Elvis discovers is that Karen isn't leading the simple country life, she's laundering money for the mob. Elvis took on the Japanese mafia in Stalking The Angel and this time he gets a crack at the fabled New York mafia in a way that only Elvis can. Taking the storyline out of L.A. is a nice change of pace as we get to see Elvis outside of his normal element. Lullaby Town further cements Mr. Crais as a great mystery writer and he keen eye and sharp wit are further honed in this third entry in the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!, Aug. 19 2000
By 
Jo Manning (Miami Beach, FL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lullaby Town (Paperback)
Robert Crais just gets better and better. Lullaby Town, his take on Hollywood types and the Mafia, is crammed full of action and fascinating characters. When Peter Alan Nelsen hires Elvis Cole, "the World's Greatest Detective," to locate his ex-wife and child, the race is on. It's been over ten years, and the obnoxious Nelsen has become one of Hollywood's top-grossing directors. Now he's decided he wants to be a father. It is quite a mystery---how does a celebrity like Nelsen not get contacted by his ex-wife? You'd think she'd want something from him, right? Or, if not for her, for her son. When Elvis does track the lady down, she claims not to be Karen Shipley, the ex-wife and movie-star-wannabe. Funny, the photo looks exactly like her, and her son could be Nelsen's young clone... What is going on here? One heck of a story! From unreal, insincere, tinseltown LA to virtuous, real small town Connecticut, to the seamy and rotten Big Apple of the NYC Mafia underworld and its assorted creeps and hitmen, Lullaby Town (where does Crais get his great titles?)is among the best in this superlative detective series.
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Lullaby Town
Lullaby Town by Robert Crais (Paperback - May 1 1993)
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