Hardcover, 341 pages
I first “met” Bob Crais on the Hardboiled message boards on AOL years ago. I was brand new to the industry and in awe of so many of the board regulars at the time. Mostly, I lurked, reading the banter between friends like RC, Dennis Lehane, SJ Rozan, Bob Randisi, Les Roberts and so many more. Were any of you there? I promise you I learned more about writing and the world of mystery there on those boards than I did in eight years of college and graduate school.
It seems funny to me now, but I resisted reading RC’s work because I just couldn’t fathom an effective protagonist named Elvis.
Seriously. I avoided reading any of his books for almost two years before I broke down and picked up Stalking the Angel at the library one day. That was my introduction to Elvis Cole, World’s Greatest Detective, and I was forever in love.
“Excuse me,” I (Elvis) said. I pushed away from my desk, pitched myself out of my chair, onto the floor, then got up, brushed myself off, and sat again.
“There. I’m finished being impressed. We can go on.”
I immediately sought a copy of The Monkey’s Raincoat and started the series from the beginning. I’ve watched the series change and grow dark, and as always, eagerly awaited the latest release – Taken. I won’t write a formal review. You don’t need one from me. But I will say, I love this book and warn you, it ends much too quickly.
So much has happened to Elvis in the last several years. The loss of Lucy in his life, the death of Samantha Dolan, the injuries he and Joe Pike have endured. It changes people. Sometimes I do miss the cockier, more wiseass Elvis of the earlier books, but I think he’s still there. He’s just clouded. Grown up some. When I read…
“The government gave the DAGR to him even though it was a crime for him to own it. Governments do that.”
…in the early pages of Taken, I smiled. The voice is strong. When he’s up to his eyeballs in trouble trying to find Krista, he offers…
“We worked out an offer for the Syrian and a game plan for the cartel, and then he made the calls. I was now in business with a Korean gang known for extortion, brutality, and violence, and about to put my trust into a drug cartel known for torture and mass murder. I told myself it was worth it. I told myself I had no choice. I lied to myself, and knew I was lying, but chose to believe the lies.”
Elvis at his finest.
I’m not what you’d call a personal friend of Robert Crais; he might recognize my screen name, but we’ve never met. He never taught a class I was in, but his work has influenced my own writing dramatically. It probably has something to do with his screenwriting background, but he can say more with fewer words than anyone I know. He paints vivid word pictures and creates characters that are hard to forget.
In this outing, it seems both Elvis and Joe have grown more tired of the bad guys winning, and more determined to do whatever it takes to get the job done. There’s quiet desperation in their vulnerabilities, which are admittedly few. It’s a case Elvis seems reluctant to take, yet he gives all he’s got to finish what he starts. I like that Pike calls in Jon Stone and we get to know him a little better, and that the writing is good enough to keep the pages turning until 3 am because I just couldn’t sleep without seeing it through to the end. Now, I wait for the next RC fix in whatever form it takes, knowing he’ll always come back to Elvis and Joe when the dust settles.
When he does, I do hope RC will help them both find a little happiness along the way somewhere. They need to love more than that cat. Until then though, when I need a detective or a trusty sidekick, I know where to look. Like Joe Pike says, “Got you.”