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When Karen Garcia goes missing, her father, a successful businessman, turns to Joe Pike to find her when the LAPD show little interest. To be fair, Karen has not been missing very long but Pike has a connection to her as they used to date way back when Joe was still on the Force. Soon it turns out that Karen has been killed and that she is the latest in a series of identical murders; a fact that LAPD Robbery-Homicide are trying to keep quiet. Whats more the Head of the Investigation, Detective Krantz, has an old axe to grind with Pike and resents his involvement. The fact that he has his partner, The World's Greatest Detective, wise-cracking Private Eye Elvis Cole, beside him does not exactly help matters and when a chief suspect for the killings ends up dead, Pike is soon in the frame.
Elvis is forced to admit he knows less about Pike than he thought as events conspire to make Pike look ever more guilty! But The World's Greatest Detective never gives up on a friend, and soon begins going back to Pike's days on the Force in a bid to discover who may have a grudge against him and how all this might link up to what appears to be a series of seemingly unconnected murder victims? Fr the first time, readers get to see a bit about the man behind the shades, as previously undisclosed facts about Pike are slowly brought to life!
If, like me, you have read these books out of sequence and if, also like me, you have already read The Watchman then you should know that much of the plot in this book deals with what happened in a certain Motel room where Joe Pike's partner on the Force lost his life. An event that lead to Pike leaving the LAPD under a cloud! This is the first book to realy take a deeper lok at the mysterious character of Joe Pike and is an important chapter in the series as it reveals much about what makes the man tick!
I did not enjoy this as much as previous Elvis Cole thrillers as the focus was less on The World's Greatest Detective and more on his partner but it was still a very enjoyable thriller that moved at a fast pace and kept things moving! I was also a little disappointed by the books climax which was nowhere near as good as in the previous books in the series!
Robert Crais is fast becoming one of my favourite authors and is certainly up there with the greatest thriller writers of all time. It is a shame then, that this is a little under par. Thankfully, having read later books in the Elvis series, I know this is just a minor blip and that later books see a return to form. But to be fair, it is not that I DIDN'T enjoy this, more that it was just a bit too by-the-numbers compared to his usual exacting standards.
I understand that this is an important story and one that deserved to be told, after all Pike cannot remain a mystery man forever without becoming stale and tedious and it is nice to get a chance to see the real man beneath his cool exterior, but I just felt it could have perhaps been handled a little better and there are times when Krantz doesn't quite ring true!
Still, this is still better than what most of his competitors have to offer and I think only die-hard fans like myself will waqlk away from this feeling a bit let-down as I think for newcomers to the series, this is still a very strong novel!
It is just for me, I felt that a certain little spark was missing.....
This was the first time I had laid my hands on a book by Robert Crais and at the time after reading the blurb on Amazon I never realised that I was swapping a book (via readitswapit) that was already part of a series, I thought I was getting a one off. When I say series the story itself is completely self contained it is just that the characters have featured in a number of previous books and hence the character development is well established for some readers whilst for me it took a while to understand the dynamics of the main two characters.
This did not present any great problems, neither did it detract from my enjoyment of the book as basically this is a fairly uncomplicated detective thriller that is well written, fast paced and turns into quite a compelling page turner as the tension builds towards the end of the story. In fact at times it is almost two fast paced as I found myself having to check back a couple of times to make sure I had fully understood what had just transpired and how it related to some of the characters mentioned earlier in the book.
Joe Pike and Elvis Cole (great name) are two well established private detectives based in Los Angeles; Cole has always been a P.I. whilst his partner Pike joined him from the LAPD after leaving under a cloud.
The story opens with the two detectives taking some time off to sort out their personal lives however they are asked to take a case by the father of Karen Garcia who has gone missing. It turns out that Karen and Pike used to date and the father wants someone looking into her case as he does not trust the local police. A powerful man he gets his way despite the opposition from the police whose dislike of Pike is soon apparent. It is left to Cole to handle most of the relation with the police and once the murdered body of Karen is discovered the case takes on a sinister twist that has Cole looking into the history of his own partner and best friend.
On the back of the book in the brief summary there is in my opinion a bit of a plot spoiler so I have deliberately not mentioned this in my review however whether or not you would be able to read the book without reading the back cover is unlikely but give it a try.
As a book this was a cracking read, gripping in its content, well crafted and with a good mix of characters that the reader can empathise with despite some pretty big flaws in their personalities and actions. It is not an over complicated book in the sense that it does not throw up huge moral questions or makes you think long and hard about issues relating to revenge and redemption, rather it is an entertaining thriller that is well paced and certainly left me feeling like I would like to read more work by this author that features these two main characters.
Primarily the story is told through the eyes of Elvis Cole although occasionally the focus switches to Pike. The two partners are clearly very close friends however this friendship was not immediately apparent to me as a new reader because so much of the story focused on Cole while Pike was a bit more peripheral to the whole thing.
They are also very different characters, Cole is the more even of the two and a lot less complicated, he is currently going through a major change in his personal life after his long term girlfriend re-located to Los Angeles with her son to be close to Cole although she has not moved in with him. This personal dynamic makes for an added angle as her reliance on Cole puts pressure on his relationship with Pike and forces a number of choices onto him which adds to the tension of the story and also helps the reader relate to the characters.
Pike is a far more complicated character, more of a loner he has a hard edge to him due to his military background in the Special Forces and for much of the story he is a bit of a mystery however by the end of the book I felt that I had a better understanding of his character as the storyline is linked to events in his past (this is not a plot spoiler as it is apparent from the first chapter).
There are a number of twists to this story and as a reader you can never be certain that there will be a happy ending, the dynamic between Pike and the police adds an extra dimension to the plot which means that there is a sub-plot running throughout the book, added to this is the infatuation of a female officer for Cole which puts additional pressure on his personal life.
I did feel that the book manages to capture the feel of Los Angeles, many detective thrillers have been located in this city and some of these are guilty of only making passing reference to the size and diversity of this sprawling city however Crais descriptive passages conjure a vivid picture of the city and its population.
Definitely a book I would recommend, it gets four stars from me as although I might read it again in the future to get five stars a book really needs to capture my imagination and want to make me read it again almost straight away. Prior to this book Crais had written seven previous books to feature Elvis Cole and he is based in Los Angeles.
Published by Orion the rrp is £5.99, I picked up my copy through readitswapit.co.uk however it can be purchased new for £3.49 from Amazon or for as little as a penny in the new and used section. The ISBN is 0-75283-395-2.
Thanks for reading and rating my review.
Robert Crais (auhtor of Monkey's Raincoat) returns with his eighth Elvis Cole mystery, LA 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 the brain. The two stay on the case but when another murder points to Pike as a suspect, things take a turn for the worst. The boys on the force are all too willing to put Pike away--he has a chequered past. When Cole attempts to save him, he finds a lot more than he bargained for and some life-altering, soul-searching to boot. Crais' knack for snappy dialogue and clean-cut scenes bespeak his former days as a writer for the award-winning television series, Hill Street Blues and LA 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 read, 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?'