Fast, solid ride. A great beginning, where the reader witnesses the moment three children and their father leave their home in company with the U.S. Marshals. Cut to Elvis Cole in the office, being visited three years later by said children, who want him to look for their father. It’s a nice way to build the sense of anticipation for the reader, waiting for Elvis to discover and explain what happened so long ago, but it turns out that was just the surface. The Space Needle on the cover implies Seattle, and it’s true, there is a section in Seattle, but it’s strangely limited. Most of the time is still in L.A.
Meanwhile, on the personal front, Elvis’ S.O. Lucy is negotiating for a job in Los Angeles. Although Elvis finds his attention is split between his relationship issues and the children’s case, Lucy’s situation is generally a less interesting one. I appreciate that Crais didn’t go into expected territory with the ex-husband, keeping attention more on the children’s missing father. I understand wanting to give your main character a personal life, but at times the situation with Lucy is just distracting. I suppose he might be trying to counter the ‘lonely private eye’ trope.
The case escalates fast, somewhat unrealistically and into thriller territory, somewhat similar to the plotting pattern in Voodoo Blues. I found it worked less well for me than the last book, but I still enjoyed the story. Wrangling the children and their wayward father certainly made the case more challenging. I found one of the revelations at the end (mild spoiler) explaining the father’s behavior to be mildly eye-rolling, but as Crais has earned a lot of leniency from me, I ignored it. It felt like a crutch, both with the earlier actions and with resolving the case lawfully. Still, overall, a pleasant way to spend the afternoon on a cold, rainy day. Tucked up in a comforter with two dogs as heating pads and a good story–what more could one want?