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
The Last Detective is one more Robert Crais elegy for Los Angeles. — Eugen Weber
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.
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.
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 hireexactly the sort of guys Lucy’s ex, Baton Rouge gas exec Richard Chenier, has repeatedly warned Lucy her new beau attractsso 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.
“Stunning . . . Shrewdly written and sharply plotted . . . The Last Detective is a rare treat.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“FAST-MOVING . . . A PAGE-TURNING THRILLER.”
“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