Wow, I really am addicted to this series. Although I had the next book in order coming from a library, I stopped at my local branch to see what was in stock and found Elvis Cole #12. It was a fast, interesting read with a couple of unpredictable twists.
A fire is spreading through Laurel Canyon, so two cops are going door to door to alert people to the danger. A woman notes that a man with a bad foot hasn’t left his place in days. When they break in, they discover him dead, gunshot wound to the head and a book with seven photographs of brutally murdered women in his lap. Detectives soon pay Elvis Cole a visit, blaming him for finding the alibi that set the man free after murder number five. Elvis is racked with guilt and tries to find out what he can about the murdered man and his album. Unfortunately, a LAPD chief has the investigation wrapped within a week. Elvis continues to dig, weaseling information in any way possible, from bribes to families to a little B&E.
This is one of the first times I’ve deliberately jumped around a series instead of reading each book as it came out or going back to read in order. It’s interesting; the things that I enjoyed about book three are still here, but there’s been a shift. Elvis is not quite as much of a charmer as he is in the earlier books, and seems uncharacteristically moody and affected by guilt. There are still moments where he is compassionate and gentle, but are fewer, as is the humor. I’ll miss it if that’s the case for subsequent books.
Plotting was interesting. Initially I felt as if Elvis’ involvement hung on the thinnest of pretexts, but I ended up appreciating the various methods Elvis uses to remain involved, always a challenge when one’s lead is a private detective. Crais had a couple of fat red herrings, one of which I fell for. I especially enjoyed being surprised because it felt reasonably plausible.
There were also some moments of solid atmospheric writing. I definitely had the feel of the dry heat and the L.A. landscape.
“Our office was a good place to be that morning. There was only the tocking of the Pinocchio clock, the scratch of my pen, and the hiss of the air conditioner fighting a terrible heat. Fire season had arrived, when fires erupted across the Southland like pimples on adolescent skin.”
“The canyon behind my house was pleasant during the midday hours, with a slight breeze that brought out the hawks to search for rabbits and mice. Somewhere below, a power saw whined in the trees, punctuated by the faint tapping of a nail gun. Someone was always building something, and the sounds of it were encouraging. They sounded like life.”
Another solid entry into a series with above average writing. Sadly, though this one did involve both a serial killer and a cat, Crais is smart enough to keep the focus on the mystery and the character interplay, not reliving each murder. Very enjoyable because of the plot twists and solid writing.
Rounding up from 3.5 stars because it deserves it on the P.I. Detective Scale