Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chasing Darkness

Most of us have regrets-things that we did or did not do that we wish had turned out differently.  For Elvis Cole, the private detective main character in Robert Crais' Chasing Darkness, that thing left undone may have had fatal consequences.

Elvis Cole considers himself one of the good guys.  Whether helping the police (or rather, trying to help the police while they attempt to block his every move) or working for one of his defense attorney clients, he believes in the search for the truth.  So he is taken aback to discover that a man that he thought he had proved could not have committed the murder of a young woman three years ago may in fact have been a serial killer.  Lionel Byrd, a misanthropic man once charged with murder, is found in his house during a wild fire evacuation.  He has apparently committed suicide, holding a photo album containing "kill shots" of several women on his lap, including the woman whose murder Cole had helped clear him of.  That convinces the LAPD that Byrd was in fact the killer, and it sends Cole off in search of evidence to clear his reputation-and his conscience.

The Cole books are the kind of mystery series that loyal readers love to follow. His characters are engaging, sometimes a little scary, and always interesting.  Cole's partner is a laconic ex-cop named Joe Pike, who reminded me very much of Harlan Coben detective Myron Bollitar's best friend, Win.  With the help of Pike and his legion of contacts in all aspects of LA society soon help him discover that all is not as it seems in the case of Lionel Byrd-and that the LA police may in fact be involved in conspiracy.  The action is well-paced, and there is a good mix of exposition and character development.  The final twist is satisfying, especially since I didn't have it figured out ahead of time, as I often do when reading mysteries.  Formulaic yes, but also exciting.  This is his 12th Elvis Cole book-I would recommend jumping in and meeting Mr. Cole for yourself.

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