Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Now I'm All Outta Elvis and Pike

Stalking the Angel (1989) (Elvis Cole/ Joe Pike #2) by Robert Crais: The theft of a priceless Japanese book from the Los Angeles home of an American businessman sends PI Elvis Cole and kick-ass pal Joe Pike up against dark family secrets and Japanese organized crime. Pike's character begins to come into focus in this, the second Cole/Pike novel, though the blurb on the back still refers to him as a sociopath (he isn't). 

The mystery is a bit thin. The climax is an inspired, epic shoot-em-up that seems to have been written with the movie screen in mind. And for foodies and lovers of brand names, Cole's obsessive recounting of the foods he eats and the brands of clothing people wear is at full-throttle. Recommended.

Lullaby Town (1992) (Elvis Cole/ Joe Pike #3) by Robert Crais: Elvis Cole and Joe Pike head to Connecticut in search of the son a famous Hollywood director abandoned years ago before he was famous. Well, his ex-wife took the son with her and disappeared, and the director didn't care then. Now, he wants to reconnect. 

The detective work leads Cole to the missing woman quite quickly... and into yet another big mess quickly after that. There's a certain amount of stereotypical fuzzy-mindedness about the Mafia along the way, along with another massive action climax. Crais, who's worked in TV and movies, seems to enjoy skewering Hollywood pretensions and pretenses here without turning the director into a completely unlikable cliche. Recommended.

Free Fall (1993) (Elvis Cole/ Joe Pike #4) by Robert Crais: The estranged fiancee of an LA cop comes to PI Elvis Cole in search of answers as to why her high-school sweetheart has become furtive and distant. And of course it's not simply another woman. Soon, Cole and best friend Joe Pike are fighting both the police and LA gangs as they search for answers. Things lead to a tightly choreographed, bloody climax. Recommended.

Voodoo River (1995) (Elvis Cole/ Joe Pike #5) by Robert Crais: A Hollywood celebrity hires Elvis Cole to track down her birth mother back in Louisiana. Nothing is ever simple in an Elvis Cole adventure. 

Along the way to an explanation, Cole runs up against small-town crooks, the world's worst PI, a 200-pound napping turtle, a Lurch-like enforcer, and a whole lot of Louisiana cooking. This novel also introduces the series' one major drag, love-interest Lucy Chenier, who will spend the next few Cole novels boring the bejesus out of the reader even as she entrances Cole. Recommended.

Indigo Slam (1997) (Elvis Cole/ Joe Pike #7) by Robert Crais: Three kids aged 8 to 16 hire Elvis Cole to find their father, who's gone missing from their LA home. As Cole feels sorry for them, he takes on the case rather than calling Child Protective Services. But what seems simple isn't, leading Cole and hyper-competent partner Joe Pike into a Battle Royale between Viet Namese and Russian organized criminals. Recommended.

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