The Last Detective (Elvis Cole Series #9)

( 79 )

Overview

P.I. Elvis Cole’s relationship with attorney Lucy Chenier is strained. Then the unthinkable happens. While Lucy is away on business and her ten-year-old son Ben is staying with Elvis, the boy vanishes without a trace. When the kidnappers call, it’s not for ransom, but for a promise to punish Cole for past sins he claims he didn’t commit. With the LAPD wrestling over the case, and the boy’s estranged father attempting to take control of the investigation, Cole vows to find Ben first. But Cole’s partner, Joe Pike, ...
See more details below
Paperback (Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)
$6.88
BN.com price
(Save 13%)$7.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (136) from $1.99   
  • New (15) from $4.30   
  • Used (121) from $1.99   
The Last Detective (Elvis Cole Series #9)

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$7.99
BN.com price
Marketplace
BN.com

All Available Formats & Editions

Overview

P.I. Elvis Cole’s relationship with attorney Lucy Chenier is strained. Then the unthinkable happens. While Lucy is away on business and her ten-year-old son Ben is staying with Elvis, the boy vanishes without a trace. When the kidnappers call, it’s not for ransom, but for a promise to punish Cole for past sins he claims he didn’t commit. With the LAPD wrestling over the case, and the boy’s estranged father attempting to take control of the investigation, Cole vows to find Ben first. But Cole’s partner, Joe Pike, knows more about this case than he has said. Pike lives in a world where dangerous men commit crimes beyond all reckoning. Now, one of those men is alive and well in L.A.—and calling Elvis Cole to war. . . .
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
L.A. private eye Elvis Cole is back, and this time crime strikes very close to home -- Cole's canyon home, in fact, where's he's babysitting his girlfriend, Lucy's, ten-year-old son, Ben. One moment, Ben's playing with his Game Freak, a handheld shoot-'em-up game that makes enough noise to be heard halfway to the moon. The next moment, there's an eerie silence…and Cole can't find the kid anywhere. Just as Elvis is reassuring Lucy, there's a chilling phone call: Ben has been kidnapped, supposedly in retaliation for a betrayal in Vietnam that took place a generation before the boy was even born. Cole remembers his time in 'Nam -- often all too well -- but he doesn't recall betraying anyone. As the police check out Rangers from Cole's old unit, perps from his past cases, and the possibility this was all a prank-gone-wrong, staged by Ben or even by Cole himself, Cole's own investigation gradually uncovers some very troubling facts. It seems there's more than one crime and more than one villain -- and it's becoming increasingly clear that the true betrayal wasn't in the past but here and now by someone very close to Cole. The Last Detective is a real page-turner, with a major cat-and-mouse ending. Sue Stone
From the Publisher
“Stunning . . . Shrewdly written and sharply plotted . . . The Last Detective is a rare treat.”
The Washington Post Book World

“FAST-MOVING . . . A PAGE-TURNING THRILLER.”
Chicago Tribune

“CRAIS TAKES READERS ON A WILD RIDE. But like all talented writers, Crais has other themes floating beneath the choppy surface waters. . . . [He is] one of the genre’s most versatile craftsmen.”
The Denver Post

“Crais reaffirms his place in the front row of the private-eye purveyors. . . . He skillfully evokes past masters of the genre without imitating them.”
San Diego Union-Tribune

The Los Angeles Times
The Last Detective is one more Robert Crais elegy for Los Angeles. — Eugen Weber
Publishers Weekly
After two bestselling stand-alone novels (Demolition Angel and Hostage), Crais has returned to his popular Elvis Cole series with a thrilling action-adventure yarn. The private eye's eighth and last crusade against evil, L.A. Requiem, explored the events, from childhood on, that turned his sidekick, Joe Pike, into a hardened killing machine (albeit a moral one). Now it's Elvis's turn to be analyzed, as he tries to rescue his beloved Lucy Chenier's son, Ben, whose kidnapping by ruthless mercenaries apparently was prompted by something in the sleuth's past. With its relentless pacing, large cast, flashbacks to Elvis's unhappy youth and war experiences and constant shifting from first- to third-person narration, the book poses significant problems for an audio interpreter. Daniels, one of the format's prime performers, has given voice to Elvis and Joe before, on the less complex Lullaby Town and Free Fall (both Brilliance titles). He takes the present challenge in stride, using his own voice for the Elvis-narrated sections and an appropriate just-the-facts approach to the straightforward sentences in the third person passages. Just as deftly, he distinguishes the cultured Lucy from the rougher-edged policewoman Carole Starkey (the author's Demolition Angel in a surprise cameo); finds an assortment of Louisiana accents for Lucy's ex-husband and his bayou crew; and, most stirringly, treats Pike to a hardboiled whisper Clint Eastwood might mistake for his own. Crais is notoriously protective of his Elvis novels, reputedly rejecting the wealth of Hollywood rather than trust others with his creations. He's got nothing to worry about here. Simultaneous release with the Doubleday hardcover (Forecasts, Jan. 27). (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Elvis Cole's domesticity is shattered when ten-year-old Ben, son of his girlfriend Lucy, disappears one afternoon while Elvis is babysitting. Worse, a ransom note arrives, sounding less interested in money than in destroying Elvis for atrocities he allegedly committed in Vietnam. Then Lucy's rich ex-husband, Richard, shows up with a couple of goons, determined to solve the kidnapping on his own. Crais's ninth Cole novel (the first since 1997) features sharply drawn characters, including lethal, silent sidekick Joe Pike, and detective Carol Starkey, visiting from Crais's nonseries Demolition Angel. Reader James Daniels maintains tension admirably, as Elvis and Carol follow up on the merest clues, getting some lucky breaks along the way and tracking some truly bad bad guys. When the solution comes, it requires a huge suspension of disbelief, but listeners will be so involved, they may not care. Recommended.-John Hiett, Iowa City P.L. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Before he hit the big time with Hostage (2001), Crais made his name with seven novels about wisecracking but ever tougher L.A. shamus Elvis Cole. Now his old hero’s overheated return suggests that somebody can’t go home again. Minutes before Elvis’s ladylove, lawyer-turned-TV commentator Lucy Chenier, returns from five days on the road, her son Ben, who’s been bonding with Elvis during his mom’s absence, is snatched from under his host’s nose. The scant evidence points to a team of professional mercenaries, killers for hire—exactly the sort of guys Lucy’s ex, Baton Rouge gas exec Richard Chenier, has repeatedly warned Lucy her new beau attracts—so it’s no wonder that Richard, jumping a jet out to the coast, arrives with smoke pouring from his ears and a trio of his own alleged experts in tow: a pair of retired New Orleans cops and Leland Myers, Richard’s own security chief. The obligatory squabbles about whose fault the kidnapping is, who ought to be first up in the investigation, and who ought to just stay out of the way is notable mainly for Elvis’s ease in getting L.A. detective Carol Starkey, visiting from another Crais stand-alone (Demolition Angel, 2000), to side with him and his old partner Joe Pike, who’s manfully struggling to recover from the wounds he suffered in Elvis’s last outing (L.A. Requiem, 1999) and his shame at running from a bear (don’t ask). The detective work, when Elvis has a chance for it, is sound and the plot twisty enough, but that’s no longer enough for Crais, who ups the ante with flashbacks to Elvis’s neglected childhood and Vietnam service, gives his villains the world-class bad-guy credentials you’d expect from an Austin Powers movie, and stagesaction scenes so quick that "all of it happened in milliseconds, or maybe even faster." Elvis on steroids. Strictly for the Russian-judge contingent.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345451903
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/30/2004
  • Series: Elvis Cole Series , #9
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 110,129
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Crais
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.

Biography

Los Angeles is known as the city of dreams, largely because so many Americans dream of breaking into the Hollywood film and television industry. In 1976, Robert Crais went west from Louisiana to pursue that very dream. As it turned out, he became one of the lucky few to break into the industry in a big way. Crais has since written for such hugely popular TV shows as Quincy, Cagney and Lacey, Miami Vice, Hill Street Blues, and L.A. Law, just to name a few. However, after achieving such success (which included a prestigious Emmy nomination) in a business that so many would give everything to break into, Robert Crais decided to step away and pursue his true dream. Frustrated by the collaborative process that comes with screenwriting, and inspired by pulp-pioneers such as Raymond Chandler, Crais became a mystery novelist. With his massively popular Elvis Cole/Joe Pike mysteries series, it seems as though success has a funny way of following Crais no matter what he decides to do.

Crais published his very first novel in 1987. The Monkey's Raincoat introduced mystery fans to Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, a pair of L.A. private investigators who would become his most-beloved recurring characters. Crais's transition from screenwriting to novel-writing was an astoundingly smooth one. The Monkey's Raincoat earned him nominations for the Edgar, Anthony, Shamus, and Macavity awards, winning both the Anthony and Macavity for "Best Novel of the Year." Crais's publisher was so overjoyed by the novel's success that he encouraged Crais to keep the Cole/Pike team going. "I started writing these books to get away from writing other people's concepts, like TV and movies," Crais told Barnes&Noble.com. "I never expected to write these guys as a series...but the book proved to be so popular and the characters were so popular that my publisher wanted more." What followed was a series of bestselling mysteries, including Stalking the Angel (1989), Free Fall (1993), L.A. Requiem (1999), and last year's The Forgotten Man.

Although the series was not part of Crais's original plan, he still seems to hold the Cole and Pike team closer to his heart than anything he has previously written. He explained, "The characters have deepened, and I think they kind of reflect what's going on with me and the world as I see it." When asked about whether or not we can expect to see the crime-solving buddies on the big screen anytime soon, he said, "I think I would have a difficult time in the collaborative process when other people suddenly put their fingerprints on Elvis and Joe," further illustrating his personal feelings for his P.I. team.

As much as Crais loves his series, he does occasionally write novels outside of the Cole/Pike world. His latest, The Two-Minute Rule, tells the story of career criminal Max Holman, a recently released-from-prison bank robber who finds himself hunting an entirely different kind of criminal after his son is gunned down. The book has since raked in positive reviews from such publications as Booklist, Publisher's Weekly, and The Library Journal. While The Two-Minute Rule does not feature Cole and Pike, Crais fans will notice one significant similarity between his latest novel and his famous series -- the Los Angeles setting. "I can't think of a better place to set crime novels because of what Los Angeles is. Los Angeles is the main where the nation goes to make its dreams come true. When you have a place like that where so many people are risking their very identities, not just money and cash, but they're risking who they are because it's their hopes and dreams, when you have that kind of tension and that kind of friction, you can't help but have crime."

Fortunately, Crais will never have to succumb to such friction and tension since, for a success story such as he, Los Angeles completely lived up to its promise of being the city of dreams.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Crais:

"My first job was cleaning dog kennels. It was especially, ah, aromatic during those hot, humid Louisiana summers, but it prepared me for Hollywood."

"My fiction is almost always inspired by a character's need or desire to rise above him-or herself. No one is perfect and some of us have much adversity in our lives; it is those people who struggle to rise above their nature or background that I find the most interesting and heroic."

"Fun details? Like Elvis Cole, I have a dry sense of humor. Sometimes I am so dry that people don't know I'm kidding and think I'm being serious. I enjoy this because their reactions are often funny. Also, I wear beautifully colored shirts like Elvis Cole, only I was wearing them before him. People will say, ‘Look, RC dresses just like Elvis Cole,' and I'll say, 'No, Elvis Cole dresses like me!' I also wear sunglasses like Joe Pike, but not indoors and not at night."

"Elvis Cole wrote two episodes of television. No lie. It happened like this: I had written episodes of Miami Vice and Jag that were rewritten by person or persons unknown -- changed so badly that I didn't want my name on them, so I used Elvis Cole's name as a pen name."

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 20, 1953
    2. Place of Birth:
      Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    1. Education:
      B.S., Louisiana State University, 1976; Clarion Writers Workshop at Michigan State University
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

A silence filled the canyon below my house that fall; no hawks floated overhead, the coyotes did not sing, the owl that lived in the tall pine outside my door no longer asked my name. A smarter person would have taken these things as a warning, but the air was chill and clear in that magnified way it can be in the winter, letting me see beyond the houses sprinkled on the hillsides below and out into the great basin city of Los Angeles. On days like those when you can see so far, you often forget to look at what is right in front of you, what is next to you, what is so close that it is part of you. I should have seen the silence as a warning, but I did not.

“How many people has she killed?”

Grunts, curses, and the snap of punches came from the next room.

Ben Chenier shouted, “What?”

How many people has she killed?”

We were twenty feet apart, me in the kitchen and Ben in the living room, shouting at the tops of our lungs; Ben Chenier, also known as my girlfirend’s ten-year-old son, and me, also known as Elvis Cole, the World’s Greatest Detective and Ben’s caretaker while his mother, Lucy Chenier, was away on business. This was our fifth and final day together.

I went to the door.

“Is there a volume control on that thing?”

Ben was so involved with something called a Game Freak that he did not look up. You held the Game Freak like a pistol with one hand and worked the controls with the other while the action unfolded on a built-in computer screen. The salesman told me that it was a hot seller with boys ages ten to fourteen. He hadn’t told me that it was louder than a shoot-out at rush hour.

Ben had been playing the game since I had given it to him the day before, but I knew he wasn’t enjoying himself, and that bothered me. He had hiked with me in the hills and let me teach him some of the things I knew about martial arts and had come with me to my office because he thought private investigators did more than phone deadbeat clients and clean pigeon crap off balcony rails. I had brought him to school in the mornings and home in the afternoons, and between those times we had cooked Thai food, watched Bruce Willis movies, and laughed a lot together. But now he used the game to hide from me with an absolute lack of joy. I knew why, and seeing him like that left me feeling badly, not only for him, but for my part in it. Fighting it out with Yakuza spree killers was easier than talking to boys.

I went over and dropped onto the couch next to him.

“We could go for a hike up on Mulholland.”

He ignored me.

“You want to work out? I could show you another tae kwon do kata before your mom gets home.”

“Uh-uh.”

I said, “You want to talk about me and your mom?”

I am a private investigator. My work brings me into contact with dangerous people, and early last summer that danger rolled over my shores when a murderer named Laurence Sobek threatened Lucy and Ben. Lucy was having a tough time with that, and Ben had heard our words. Lucy and Ben’s father had divorced when Ben was six, and now he worried that it was happening again. We had tried to talk to him, Lucy and I, but boys—like men—find it hard to open their hearts.

Instead of answering me, Ben thumbed the game harder and nodded toward the action on the screen.

“Check it out. This is the Queen of Blame.”

Perfect.

A young Asian woman with spiky hair, breasts the size of casaba melons, and an angry snarl jumped over a Dumpster to face three musclebound steroid-juicers in what appeared to be a devastated urban landscape. A tiny halter barely covered her breasts, sprayed-on shorts showed her butt cheeks, and her voice growled electronically from the Game Freak’s little speaker.

“You’re my toilet!”

She let loose with a martial arts sidekick that spun the first attacker into the air.

I said, “Some woman.”

“Uh-huh. A bad guy named Modus sold her sister into slavery, and now the Queen is going to make him pay the ultimate price.”

The Queen of Blame punched a man three times her size with left and rights so fast that her hands blurred. Blood and teeth flew everywhere.

“Eat fist, scum!”

I spotted a pause button on the controls, and stopped the game. Adults always wonder what to say and how to say it when they’re talking with a child. You want to be wise, but all you are is a child yourself in a larger body. Nothing is ever what it seems. The things that you think you know are never certain. I know that, now. I wish that I didn’t, but I do.

I said, “I know that what’s going on between me and your mom is scary. I just want you to know that we’re going to get through this. Your mom and I love each other. We’re going to be fine.”

“I know.”

“She loves you. I love you, too.”

Ben stared at the frozen screen for a little while longer, and then he looked up at me. His little-boy face was smooth and thoughtful. He wasn’t stupid; his mom and dad loved him, too, but that hadn’t stopped them from getting divorced.

“Elvis?”

“What?”

“I had a really good time staying with you. I wish I didn’t have to leave.”

“Me, too, pal. I’m glad you were here.”

Ben smiled, and I smiled back. Funny, how a moment like that could fill a man with hope. I patted his leg.

“Here’s the plan: Mom’s going to get back soon. We should clean the place so she doesn’t think we’re pigs, then we should get the grill ready so we’re good to go with dinner when she gets home. Burgers okay?”

“Can I finish the game first? The Queen of Blame is about to find Modus.”

“Sure. How about you take her out onto the deck? She’s pretty loud.”

“Okay.”

I went back into the kitchen, and Ben took the Queen and her breasts outside. Even that far away, I heard her clearly. “Your face is pizza!” Then her victim shrieked in pain.
I should have heard more. I should have listened even harder.

Less than three minutes later, Lucy called from her car. It was twenty-two minutes after four. I had just taken the hamburger meat from my refrigerator.

I said, “Hey. Where are you?”

“Long Beach. Traffic’s good, so I’m making great time. How are you guys holding up?”

Lucy Chenier was a legal commentator for a local television station. Before that, she had practiced civil law in Baton Rouge, which is what she was doing when we met. Her voice still held the hint of a French-Louisiana accent, but you had to listen closely to hear it. She had been in San Diego covering a trial.

“We’re good. I’m getting hamburgers together for when you get here.”

“How’s Ben?”

“He was feeling low today, but we talked. He’s better now. He misses you.”

We fell into a silence that lasted too long. Lucy had phoned every night, and we laughed well enough, but our exchanges felt incomplete though we tried to pretend they weren’t.

It wasn’t easy being hooked up with the World’s Greatest Detective.

Finally, I said, “I missed you.”

“I missed you, too. It’s been a long week. Hamburgers sound really good. Cheeseburgers. With lots of pickles.”

She sounded tired. But she also sounded as if she was smiling.

“I think we can manage that. I got your pickle for ya right here.”

Lucy laughed. I’m the World’s Funniest Detective, too.

She said, “How can I pass up an offer like that?”

“You want to speak with Ben? He just went outside.”

“That’s all right. Tell him that I’m on my way and that I love him, and then you can tell yourself that I love you, too.”

We hung up and I went out onto the deck to pass along the good word, but the deck was empty. I went to the rail. Ben liked to play on the slope below my house and climb in the black walnut trees that grow further down the hill. More houses were nestled beyond the trees on the streets that web along the hillsides. The deepest cuts in the canyon were just beginning to purple, but the light was still good. I didn’t see him.

Ben?”

He didn’t answer.

“Hey, buddy! Mom called!”

He still didn’t answer.

I checked the side of the house, then went back inside and called him again, thinking maybe he had gone to the guest room where he sleeps or the bathroom.

“Yo, Ben! Where are you?”

Nothing.

I looked in the guest room and the downstairs bathroom, then went out the front door into the street. I live on a narrow private road that winds along the top of the canyon. Cars rarely pass except when my neighbors go to and from work, so it’s a safe street, and great for skateboarding.

“Ben?”

I didn’t see him. I went back inside the house. “Ben! That was Mom on the phone!”
I thought that might get an answer. The Mom Threat.

“If you’re hiding, this is a problem. It’s not funny.”

I went upstairs to my loft, but didn’t find him. I went downstairs again to the deck.
“BEN!”

My nearest neighbor had two little boys, but Ben never went over without first telling me. He never went down the slope or out into the street or even into the carport without first letting me know, either. It wasn’t his way. It also wasn’t his way to pull a David Copperfield and disappear.

I went back inside and phoned next door. I could see Grace Gonzalez’s house from my kitchen window.

“Grace? It’s Elvis next door.”

Like there might be another Elvis further up the block.

“Hey, bud. How’s it going?”

Grace calls me bud. She used to be a stuntwoman until she married a stuntman she met falling off a twelve-story building and retired to have two boys.

“Is Ben over there?”

“Nope. Was he supposed to be?”

“He was here a few minutes ago, but now he’s not. I thought he might have gone to see the boys.”

Grace hesitated, and her voice lost its easygoing familiarity for something more concerned.

“Let me ask Andrew. They could have gone downstairs without me seeing.”

Andrew was her oldest, who was eight. His younger brother, Clark, was six. Ben told me that Clark liked to eat his own snot.

I checked the time again. Lucy had called at four twenty-two; it was now four thirty-eight. I brought the phone out onto my deck, hoping to see Ben trudging up the hill, but the hill was empty.

Grace came back on the line.

“Elvis?”

“I’m here.”

“My guys haven’t seen him. Let me look out front. Maybe he’s in the street.”

“Thanks, Grace.”
Her voice carried clearly across the bend in the canyon that separated our homes when she called him, and then she came back on the line.

“I can see pretty far both ways, but I don’t see him. You want me to come over there and help you look?”

“You’ve got your hands full with Andrew and Clark. If he shows up, will you keep him there and call me?”

“Right away.”

I turned off the phone, and stared down into the canyon. The slope was not steep, but he could have taken a tumble or fallen from a tree. I left the phone on the deck and worked my way down the slope. My feet sank into the loose soil, and footing was poor.

“Ben! Where in hell are you?”

Walnut trees twisted from the hillside like gnarled fingers, their trunks gray and rough. A lone yucca tree grew in a corkscrew among the walnuts with spiky leaves like green-black starbursts. The rusted remains of a chain-link fence were partially buried by years of soil movement. The largest walnut tree pushed out of the ground beyond the fence with five heavy trunks that spread like an opening hand. I had twice climbed in the tree with Ben, and we had talked about building a tree house between the spreading trunks.

Ben!”

I listened hard. I took a deep breath, exhaled, then held my breath. I heard a faraway voice.

“BEN!”

I imagined him further down the slope with a broken leg. Or worse.

“I’m coming.”

I hurried.

I followed the voice through the trees and around a bulge in the finger, certain that I would find him, but as I went over the hump I heard the voice more clearly and knew that it wasn’t his. The Game Freak was waiting for me in a nest of stringy autumn grass. Ben was gone.

I called as loudly as I could.

“BEN!!!”

No answer came except for the sound of my own thundering heart and the Queen’s tinny voice. She had finally found Modus, a great fat giant of a man with a bullet head and pencil-point eyes. She launched kick after kick, punch after punch, screaming her vow of vengeance as the two of them fought in an endless loop through a blood-drenched room.

“Now you die! Now you die! Now you die!”

I held the Queen of Blame close, and hurried back up the hill.

2

time missing: 00 hours, 21 minutes

The sun was dropping. Shadows pooled in the deep cuts between the ridges as if the canyon was filling with ink. I left a note in the middle of the kitchen floor: STAY HERE—I’M LOOKING FOR U, then drove down through the canyon, trying to find him.

If Ben had sprained an ankle or twisted a knee, he might have hobbled downhill instead of making the steep climb back to my house; he might have knocked on someone’s door for help; he might be limping home on his own. I told myself, sure, that had to be it. Ten-year-old boys don’t simply vanish.

When I reached the street that follows the drainage below my house, I parked and got out. The light was fading faster and the murk made it difficult to see. I called for him.

Ben?”

If Ben had come downhill, he would have passed beside one of three houses. No one was home at the first two, but a housekeeper answered at the third. She let me look in their backyard, but watched me from the windows as if I might steal the pool toys. Nothing. I boosted myself to see over a cinder-block wall into the neighboring yards, but he wasn’t there, either. I called him again.

Ben!”

I went back to my car. It was all too easy and way too likely that we would miss each other; as I drove along one street, Ben might turn down another. By the time I was on that street, he could reappear behind me, but I didn’t know what else to do.

Twice I waved down passing security patrols to ask if they had seen a boy matching Ben’s description. Neither had, but they took my name and number, and offered to call if they found him.

I drove faster, trying to cover as much ground as possible before the sunset. I crossed and recrossed the same streets, winding through the canyon as if it was me who was lost and not Ben. The streets were brighter the higher I climbed, but a chill haunted the shadows. Ben was wearing a sweatshirt over jeans. It didn’t seem enough.

When I reached home, I called out again as I let myself in, but still got no answer. The note that I left was untouched, and the message counter read zero.

I phoned the dispatch offices of the private security firms that service the canyon, including the company that owned the two cars I had already spoken to. Their cars prowled the canyons every day around the clock, and the companies’ signs were posted as a warning to burglars in front of almost every house. Welcome to life in the city. I explained that a child was missing in the area and gave them Ben’s description. Even though I wasn’t a subscriber, they were happy to help.

When I put down the phone, I heard the front door open and felt a spike of relief so sharp that it was painful.

“Ben!”

“It’s me.”

Lucy came into the living room. She was wearing a black business suit over a cream top, but she was carrying the suit jacket; her pants were wrinkled from so long in the car. She was clearly tired, but she made a weak smile.

“Hey. I don’t smell hamburgers.”

It was two minutes after six. Ben had been missing for exactly one hundred minutes. It had taken Lucy exactly one hundred minutes to get home after we last spoke. It had taken me one hundred minutes to lose her son.

Lucy saw the fear in my face. Her smile dropped.

“What’s wrong?”

“Ben’s missing.”

She glanced around as if Ben might be hiding behind the couch, giggling at the joke. She knew it wasn’t a joke. She could see that I was serious.

“What do you mean, missing?”

Explaining felt lame, as if I was making excuses.

“He went outside around the time you called, and now I can’t find him. I called, but he didn’t answer. I drove all over the canyon, looking for him, but I didn’t see him. He isn’t next door. I don’t where he is.”

She shook her head as if I had made a frustrating mistake, and was getting the story wrong.

“He just left?”

I showed her the Game Freak as if it was evidence.

“I don’t know. He was playing with this when he went out. I found it on the slope.”

Lucy stalked past me and went outside onto the deck.

“Ben! Benjamin, you answer me! Ben!”

“Luce, I’ve been calling him.”

She stalked back into the house and disappeared down the hall.

“Ben!”

“He’s not here. I called the security patrols. I was just going to call the police.”

She came back and went right back onto the deck.

Damnit, Ben, you’d better answer me!”

I stepped out behind her and took her arms. She was shaking. She turned into me, and we held each other. Her voice was small and guilty against my chest.

“Do you think he ran away?”

“No. No, he was fine, Luce. He was okay after we talked. He was laughing at this stupid game.”
I told her that I thought he had probably hurt himself when he was playing on the slope, then gotten lost trying to find his way back.

“Those streets are confusing down there, the way they snake and twist. He probably just got turned around, and now he’s too scared to ask someone for help; he’s been warned about strangers enough. If he got on the wrong street and kept walking, he probably got farther away, and more lost. He’s probably so scared right now that he hides whenever a car passes, but we’ll find him. We should call the police.”

Lucy nodded against me, wanting to believe, and then she looked at the canyon. Lights from the houses were beginning to sparkle.

She said, “It’s getting dark.”

That single word: Dark. It summoned every parent’s greatest dread.

I said, “Let’s call. The cops will light up every house in the canyon until we find him.”

As Lucy and I stepped back into the house, the phone rang. Lucy jumped even more than me.

“That’s Ben.”

I answered the phone, but the voice on the other end didn’t belong to Ben or Grace Gonzalez or the security patrols.

A man said, “Is this Elvis Cole?”

“Yes. Who’s this?”

The voice was cold and low.

He said, “Five-two.”

“Who is this?”

“Five-two, motherfucker. You remember five-two?”

Lucy plucked my arm, hoping that it was about Ben. I shook my head, telling her I didn’t understand, but the sharp fear of bad memories was already cutting deep.

I gripped the phone with both hands. I needed both to hang on.

“Who is this? What are you talking about?”

“This is payback, you bastard. This is for what you did.”

I held the phone even tighter, and heard myself shout.

“What did I do? What are you talking about?”

“You know what you did. I have the boy.”

The line went dead.

Lucy plucked harder.

“Who was it? What did they say?”

I didn’t feel her. I barely heard her. I was caught in a yellowed photo album from my own past, flipping through bright green pictures of another me, a much different me, and of young men with painted faces, hollow eyes, and the damp sour smell of fear.
Lucy pulled harder.

“Stop it! You’re scaring me.”
“It was a man, I don’t know who. He says he took Ben.”

Lucy grabbed my arm with both hands.

“Ben was stolen? He was kidnapped? What did the man say? What does he want?”
My mouth was dry. My neck cramped with painful knots.

“He wants to punish me. For something that happened a long time ago.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 79 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(42)

4 Star

(23)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(4)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 79 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2003

    Elvis and Joe Together Again

    The Last Detective is one of those books that grabs you from the first few pages and keeps you in the 'I hate to put this down' mode throughout the book. Having a peek into Elvis Cole's past adds another demention to his character in this well written book. Joe Pike continues to be a mysterious personality who will come to the aid of the few he truly cares about. He must have a soft spot somewhere ... the cat likes him!! I felt all the characters in the book were well developed. I knew who I liked, didn't like and why. I had read the earlier Elvis Cole books, but with all the other books out there I had not read him again until The Last Detective. I will most definitely go back and read the few I missed. Page turner, excellent read, well plotted, all of those terms we book lovers use, in my humble opinion of course, apply to this latest Robert Crais book.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2012

    I haven't read all of it yet but if you like suspense this is certainly the one for you.

    Well written and hard to put down. Robert Crais is indeed a great writer.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 8, 2014

    If you like Elvis Cole, you'll like this one.

    The usual exciting Cole and partner/best friend Joe Pike. Exciting, interesting and gripping. You never know when some random event will
    turn into a new case for the pair. I love the relationship between these two men and each book is a treat for me. If you like this series, you will like this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 21, 2014

    The Last Detective

    Crais is a terrific author. He holds your interest from page one.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    Highly Recommended.

    Great Reading.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 2, 2013

    Typical Robert Crais, Great read.

    Robert Crais is one of the best writers for this genre. Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are great.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 19, 2013

    Great book!

    I have found a new author of mystery to read. Robert Crais moves quickly and keeps your attention riveted on the characters and the plot!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 22, 2013

    Great book

    Enjoy the Elvis Cole series of Robert Crais's books, very good read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    From Smokeybend

    Awesome read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 24, 2012

    An excellent read - just like all the previous Elvis Cole novels!

    Robert Crais does an excellent job of making both Elvis and Joe very real characters. I would definitely want both of them on my side if I were in a situation. Highly recommend every one of the Elvis Cole series.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 3, 2012

    Great read

    Just as good as his previous books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 4, 2011

    another good story

    I enjoy the writing and the story. This was a fast paced search for a child. Written to keep you wanting to finish the book. Read it and you will enjoy

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 23, 2011

    better than watching the movie

    Great finish!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 15, 2011

    Highly recommend this book

    I recently discovered Robert Crais and really like his 2 characters Joe Pike and Elvis Cole. This book gives a lot of background on Elvis while brining Joe Pike into the picture. I like to rad these types of books in order to get the most enjoyment out of them - actually feel you "know" the characters(i.e. I have read all of the John Sandford "PREY" books in order -all 17 of them!) This book hs a twist to it that you might not expect and uses first person, third person and narrative in a unique way of telling the story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A gripping read.

    This was a fast paced thriller that is sure to be one of Robert Crais' best books. It grabbed my senses from the very beginning and didn't let up until I finished reading the exciting ending. I think that it is probably one of the darkest books in the series, and it is fascinating how it explores Elvis' past, and Joe Pike's hidden insecurities. I couldn't put the book down and I read it over a two evening period. The only disappointment was the solution of the kidnapping...a little bit contrived and unrealistic in my mind. Still, this is a roller coaster read and I highly recommend it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent

    Robert Crais has never written a book that is not worth reading. His Elvis Cole series is the best.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Last 30 Pages

    As a big fan of Robert Crais' novels, I enjoyed this one a lot. The wrap-up of the novel was one of the most exciting I have read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Elvis fan

    I have read the Elvis Cole books up through #11, and have enjoyed them all. He is my favorite World's Greatest Detective. That is, he and Harry Bosch.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2008

    1st timer

    this is the first of this series that i have read. it was way better than i thought it would be. It is a must read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2003

    Fast and furious!

    As a long-time Crais fan, this return to the Elvis Cole series is a welcome addition. The added bonus is the return of Carol Starkey (heroine of Demolition Angel--a stand-alone, non Cole title I enjoyed enormously) in a supporting role. The plotting is tight as a tick, the narrative races along with a few nice twists. Cole is more lugubrious this time out (as is long-time sidekick Joe Pike). However, given the seriousness of the plot, Cole's somberness is more than acceptable. This is a book that reads at the speed of light and is highly entertaining, and exceedingly violent. It works, though, because of Crais' great gift of characterization. What doesn't work, and is even mildly embarrassing, is the use of italicized front- and end-pieces that are, essentially, about finding one's 'inner child.' It's a bit too new-agey, a bit too sentimental (even maudlin) for everything Crais has structured in this book. That aside, though, it doesn't seriously detract from a well-wrought book. It's not Crais at his best but it's a long, long way from his worst (that would be Hostage). Recommended.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 79 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)