More than 10 years ago, I was shocked to learn that some puerile piece of fluff had won the Edgar for Best Paperback Original, when it was so obvious to me and virtually everyone else in the Western Hemisphere that the award should have gone to The Monkey's Raincoat
, the book that introduced Elvis Cole, private eye, and is to this day one of the funniest books I've ever read.
The terrific Elvis Cole series has grown through the years, each book better than the last, but nothing prepared me for the quantum leap (yes, it's a cliché, but it belongs here) that Crais has made with L.A. Requiem. It's not as funny as the other books in the series, but it's a beautifully plotted detective story, rich with police procedure, and it will keep even the most sophisticated reader at sea right until the end. And that's what elevates this book to the level of literature.
This one is more about Joe Pike, Elvis's silent sidekick, than it is about Elvis. We learn, through Pike's own eyes, how his childhood made him the way he is today. It's also about a friendship so strong that it threatens Elvis's relationship with his beloved Lucy. It is a tender but dark book--a serial killer book--but it doesn't attempt to outgross the other serial killer books on the shelf. It is funny at times and chilling at other times, making it one of the rare books that can't help but linger in the memory long after it's been read and put away. --Otto Penzler
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.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.