The New York Times
Chasing Darkness (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series #12)by Robert Crais, James Daniels
It’s fire season, and the hills of Los Angeles are burning. When police and fire department personnel rush door to door in a frenzied evacuation effort, they discover the week-old corpse of an apparent suicide,in his lap a photo album of seven brutally murdered young women. And when the suicide victim is identified as a former suspect in one of the murders, the news turns Elvis Cole’s world upside down.
Three years earlier Lionel Byrd was brought to trial for the murder of a female prostitute named Yvonne Bennett. A taped confession coerced by the police inspired a prominent defense attorney to take Byrd’s case, and Elvis Cole was hired to investigate. It was Cole’s eleventh-hour discovery of an exculpatory videotape that allowed Lionel Byrd to walk free. But the discovery of the death album in Byrd’s lap now brands Elvis as an unwitting accomplice to murder. Captured in photographs that could only have been taken by the murderer, Yvonne Bennett was the fifth of the seven victims – two more young women were murdered after Lionel Byrd walked free. So Elvis can’t help but wonder – did he, Elvis Cole, cost two more young women their lives?
Elvis Cole and Joe Pike desperately fight to uncover the truth about Lionel Byrd and his nightmare album of death – a truth hidden by lies, politics, and corruption in a world where nothing is what it seems to be.
The New York Times
After earning a law degree, James Daniels quit recording audiobooks, but returned to read Crais's newest Elivis Cole and Joe Pike mystery (his previous Crais recordings include The Forgotten Man, Hostage, The Last Detective, Lullaby Town and The Watchman). It's a welcome return and Daniel's no-nonsense reading elevates one of Crais's lesser efforts and turns it into an enjoyable listening experience. Slipping back into these characters, Daniels easily distinguishes Cole's wise-guy banter from Pike's steely resolution, and he gives this outing's enigmatic villain, Lionel Byrd, just the right note of weirdness. A fire unearths evidence that someone Cole helped prove innocent of murdering a prostitute six years ago may actually have been guilty-and may have killed many other women. Cole and Pike dodge bullets as they dig around to find out the truth. A Simon & Schuster hardcover (Reviews, May 19). (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Read an Excerpt
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.
Joe Pike was waiting for me to finish the paperwork. He stood at the French doors that open onto my balcony, staring across the city toward the ocean. He had not spoken nor moved in more than twenty minutes, which was nothing for Pike. He often went soundless for days. We were going to work out at Ray Depente's gym in South-Central Los Angeles when I finished the grind.
The first call came at nine forty-two.
A male voice said, "Are you Elvis Cole?"
"That's right. How can I help you?"
"You're a dead man."
I killed the call and went back to work. When you do what I do, you get calls from schizophrenics, escapees from Area 51, and people claiming to know who killed the Black Dahlia and Princess Diana.
Pike said, "Who was it?"
"Some guy told me I was a dead man."
Pike said, "Smoke."
I glanced up from the work.
"Malibu, looks like. Maybe Topanga."
Then Pike turned toward the door, and everything that had been normal about that ordinary morning changed.
A stocky man with a short haircut and wilted tan sport coat shoved through the door like he lived in Fallujah. He flashed a badge as if he expected me to dive under my desk.
"Welcome to hell, shitbird."
A woman in a blue business suit with a shoulder bag slung on her arm came in behind him. The heat had played hell with her hair, but that didn't stop her from showing a silver-and-gold detective shield.
"Connie Bastilla, LAPD. This is Charlie Crimmens. Are you Elvis Cole?"
I studied Pike.
"Did he really call me a shitbird?"
Crimmens tipped his badge toward me, then Pike, but talked to the woman.
"This one's Cole. This one's gotta be his bun boy, Pike."
Pike faced Charlie. Pike was six-one, a bit over two, and was suited up in a sleeveless grey sweatshirt and government-issue sunglasses. When he crossed his arms, the bright red arrows inked into his deltoids rippled.
I spoke slowly.
"Did you make an appointment?"
Crimmens said, "Answer her, shitbird."
I am a professional investigator. I am licensed by the state of California and run a professional business. Police officers did not barge into my office. They also did not call me a shitbird. I stood, and gave Crimmens my best professional smile.
"Say it again I'll shove that badge up your ass."
Bastilla took a seat in one of the two director's chairs facing my desk.
"Take it easy. We have some questions about a case you once worked."
I stared at Crimmens.
"You want to arrest me, get to it. You want to talk to me, knock on my door and ask for permission. You think I'm kidding about the badge, try it out."
Pike said, "Go ahead, Crimmens. Give it a try."
Crimmens smirked as he draped himself over the file cabinet. He studied Pike for a moment, then smirked some more.
Bastilla said, "Do you recall a man named Lionel Byrd?"
"I didn't offer you a seat."
"C'mon, you know Lionel Byrd or not?"
Charlie said, "He knows him. Jesus."
Something about Crimmens was familiar, though I couldn't place him. Most of the Hollywood Bureau detectives were friends of mine, but these two were blanks.
"You aren't out of Hollywood."
Bastilla put her card on my desk.
"Homicide Special. Charlie's attached out of Rampart. We're part of a task force investigating a series of homicides. Now, c'mon. Lionel Byrd."
I had to think.
"We're talking about a criminal case?"
"Three years ago, Byrd was bound over for the murder of a twenty-eight-year-old prostitute named Yvonne Bennett, a crime he confessed to. You produced a witness and a security tape that supposedly cleared him of the crime. His attorney was J. Alan Levy, of Barshop, Barshop & Alter. We getting warmer here?"
The facts of the case returned as slowly as surfacing fish. Lionel Byrd had been an unemployed mechanic with alcohol problems and a love/hate relationship with prostitutes. He wasn't a guy you would want to know socially, but he wasn't a murderer.
"Yeah, I remember. Not all the details, but some. It was a bogus confession. He recanted."
I took my seat and hooked a foot on the edge of the desk.
"Whatever. The video showed he was here in Hollywood when Bennett was murdered. She was killed in Silver Lake."
Behind them, Pike touched his watch. We were going to be late.
I lowered my foot and leaned forward.
"You guys should have called. My partner and I have an appointment."
Bastilla took out a notepad to show me they weren't going to leave.
"Have you seen much of Mr. Byrd since you got him off?"
"I never met the man."
Crimmens said, "Bullshit. He was your client. You don't meet your clients?"
"Levy was my client. Barshop, Barshop paid the tab. That's what lawyers do."
Bastilla said, "So it was Levy who hired you?"
"Yes. Most of my clients are lawyers."
Attorneys can't and don't rely on the word of their clients. Often, their clients don't know the whole and impartial truth, and sometimes their clients lie. Since lawyers are busy lawyering, they employ investigators to uncover the facts.
Bastilla twisted around to see Pike.
"What about you? Did you work on Byrd's behalf?"
"Not my kind of job."
She twisted farther to get a better look.
"How about you take off the shades while we talk?"
Crimmens said, "You hiding something back there, Pike? How 'bout we look?"
Pike's head swiveled toward Crimmens. Nothing else moved; just his head.
"If I showed you, I'd have to kill you."
I stepped in before it got out of hand.
"Joe didn't help on this one. This thing was Detective Work 101. I must pull thirty cases like this a year."
Crimmens said, "That's sweet. You must take pride in that, helping shitbirds get away with murder."
Crimmens was pissing me off again.
"What are we talking about this for, Bastilla? This thing was settled three years ago."
Bastilla opened her pad and studied the page.
"So you are telling us you have never met Lionel Byrd?"
"I have never met him."
"Are you acquainted with a man named Lonnie Jones?"
"No. Is he your new suspect?"
"During your investigation into the matter of Yvonne Bennett, did you discover evidence linking Mr. Byrd to any other crimes or criminal activities?"
"What kind of question is that? Have you rearrested him?"
Bastilla scribbled a note. When she looked up, her eyes were ringed with purple cutting down to her mouth. She looked as tired as a person can look without being dead.
"No, Mr. Cole, we can't arrest him. Eight days ago, he was found during the evacuation up in Laurel Canyon. Head-shot up through the bottom of his chin. He had been dead about five days."
"I didn't kill him."
"Wouldn't that be funny, Con? Wouldn't that be too perfect? Man, I would love that."
Bastilla smiled, but not because she thought it was funny.
"He committed suicide. He was living under the name Lonnie Jones. Know why he was using an alias?"
"No idea. Maybe because he didn't like being accused of murders he didn't commit."
Bastilla leaned toward me and crossed her arms on a knee.
"The man's dead now, Cole. Reason we're here, we'd like to examine the reports and work product you have from the Bennett case. Your notes. The people you questioned. Everything in your file."
She waited without blinking, studying me as if she knew what I would say, but was hoping I might not say it. I shook my head.
"I was working on behalf of defense counsel. That material belongs to Alan Levy."
"Levy is being contacted."
Crimmens said, "The fucker's dead, Cole. You got him off. What's it matter now?"
"If Levy says fine, then fine, but I worked for him, Crimmens, not you. There's that little thing about 'expectation of confidentiality.' "
I looked back at Bastilla.
"If the man's dead and you don't think I killed him, why do you care what's in my files about Yvonne Bennett?"
Bastilla sighed, then straightened.
"Because this isn't only about Bennett. Lionel Byrd murdered seven women. We believe he murdered one woman every year for the past seven years. Yvonne Bennett was his fifth victim."
She said it as matter-of-factly as a bank teller cashing a check, but with a softness in her voice that spread seeds of ice in my belly.
"He didn't kill Yvonne Bennett. I proved it."
Bastilla put away her pad. She got up, then hooked her bag on her shoulder, finally ready to go.
"Material linking him to the murder was found in his home. He murdered a sixth woman the summer after his release. His most recent victim was murdered thirty-six days ago, and now he's murdered himself."
Crimmens licked his lips as if he wanted to eat me alive.
"How do you feel now, Mr. Thirty-a-Year?"
I shook my head at Bastilla.
"What does that mean, you found material?"
"Something in your files might help us figure out how he got away with it, Cole. Talk to Levy. If we have to subpoena, we will, but it'll be faster if you guys come across."
I stood with her.
"Waitaminute what does that mean, you found something? What did you find?"
"A press conference is scheduled for this evening. In the meantime, talk to Levy. The sooner the better."
Bastilla left without waiting, but Crimmens made no move to follow. He stayed on the file cabinet, watching me.
I said, "What?"
"Escondido and Repko."
"Why are you still here, Crimmens?"
"You don't recognize me, do you?"
"Think about it. You must've read my reports."
Then I realized why he was familiar.
"You were the arresting officer."
Crimmens finally pushed off the cabinet.
"That's right. I'm the guy who arrested Byrd. I'm the guy who tried to stop a killer. You're the shitbird who set him free."
Crimmens glanced at Pike, then went to the door.
"Lupe Escondido and Debra Repko are the women he killed after you got him off. You should send the families a card."
Crimmens closed the door when he left.
Copyright © 2008 by Robert Crais
Meet the Author
Robert Crais is the 2006 recipient of the Ross Macdonald Literary Award. He is the author of numerous New York Times bestsellers, including The Two Minute Rule, The Forgotten Man, and L.A. Requiem.
- Los Angeles, California
- Date of Birth:
- June 20, 1953
- Place of Birth:
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- B.S., Louisiana State University, 1976; Clarion Writers Workshop at Michigan State University
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This book, like all of Robert Crais' books, is a fast and fun read. Great characters and good plots will keep you turning pages!
Holds interest...hard to put down... Waiting for the next book....
After The Watchman, one of the worst books in history, Chasing Darkness is another feeble effort. I have read all of the Crais books and they are steadily downhill. This book is short in length, limited in originality, and just follows a predictable formula as a story. Don't waste the money.
Believable characters with believable motives. Honest and heartbreaking at times but reads like an updated old detective novel. Protagonist is interesting and engaging. I'm hooked.
I am a recent "Elvis Cole and Joe Pike" fan, but this one was really layered. I love that; it keeps me turning pages.
A new twist on Elvis Cole, That is engaging, thrilling and still able to be human and touching. I have read all the Elvis Cole Novels and Chasing Darkness is so good that I am ready to pick it up and read it again.
Another excellent book from Robert Crais. A must read for Elvis Cole fans!
this is a great book. i've read all from this series and this one didn't disappoint.
Southern California is burning in the latest Elvis Cole novel, leading police to the body of Lionel Byrd while evacuating Laurel Canyon residents endangered by the fire. Evidence at the scene of Byrd's apparent suicide incriminates him in the murder of seven people, and the kicker is that two of them happened after Elvis Cole helped clear the man of one of the killings. Naturally, a guilt-wracked Cole is drawn into the case and soon finds evidence that Byrd's 'suicide' may have been staged and that the police are covering it up. Several twists and turns keep things interesting, and Cole's partner Joe Pike (who's always reminded me of Spenser's Hawk) is along for the ride, which is darker than some of the previous Elvis Cole entries. I like the fact that in 'Chasing Darkness' Crais continues to move away from his lighthearted, wisecrack-filled mysteries to a more hard-boiled styled with weightier themes and more powerful stories. Don't get me wrong though, 'Chasing Darkness' is far from morose or heavy-handed - it's an exciting, unpredictable thriller featuring two of the most colorful detectives in current crime fiction. Also recommended: 'A Stranger Lies There' by Stephen Santogrossi- a hard-boiled thriller set in the desert around Palm Springs, it won the Malice Domestic Award for best first mystery. I actually discovered this book last year in an Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine review alongside Crais' previous novel The Watchman. The review stated: 'Santogrossi writes powerfully and movingly about a man who has paid for his mistakes only to find out that he's not through paying and never will be. An author to watch.'
Too short to be called a "novel." Most of the characters are boring and the plot is very predictable. Don't buy this one! by aj west
Had me guessing couldn't stop reading
Great storyline. Highly recommend.
This is another of Robert Crais's great reads. His Elvis Cole is a likeable character and the events are believable and not so impossible as many other mystery reads. The story keeps moving and has surprise after surprise coming.
This book will hold your interest. Short and fast read
I have gotten tired of characters in other Authors book series but not with any of the Robert Crais books. Still loving Elvis and Pike. Somehow Robert Crais manages to keep it fresh and just as exciting book after book. Thanks.