Crais surprised me again. Not so much with the mystery as a very sweet subplot that I didn’t expect in a mystery-thriller. Connections from the last book have given Elvis more referrals from the movie world, and a famous small-screen actress Jodi Taylor is looking for the parents who gave her up as an infant. The trail takes Elvis to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, giving readers a change from the familiar L.A. scene.
When Elvis landed in a small town and started getting a feel for the place, I felt like I was there with him, from the local storefront BBQ and the people lined up during lunch, to the nosy librarian to the flavorful etouffee to the endlessly flat fields of sweet potatoes. Suddenly a lot of ‘podnah’ started seeping in. Turns out Crais is from Louisiana, so he comes by it honestly.
I enjoyed characterization quite a bit in the first part of the book. There’s a lot of emotional complexity to Taylor. I appreciate that it wasn’t just used to set up the investigation, but continues throughout the story. The case brings Elvis into contact with a lawyer (as always), and I appreciated the way Crais developed their interaction. I thought Elvis’ excitement quite sweet, nostalgically recalling such moments myself.
Once again, Crais does interesting things with the typical mystery plot, where solving one issue leads to another. This time, however, it worked less well, feeling like it veered off into a very different direction, both in plotting and in atmosphere. Joe Pike makes his usual appearance for the action. He’s fast becoming a sure-fire sign that things are about to come to a head.