A Great Detective

Wow, for 2 months I have been in a reading rut. Don’t get me wrong, I have read some okay works of fiction lately but nothing that has really stood out at me. I easily finished off every Charlie Huston novel available to me and then nothing…..2 months of nothing. Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t power through everything an author has written and leave one or two for a rainy day but no, this is not the case with my reading habits. After Huston, I sort of staggered around trying out new authors here and there with mediocre results, until last week that is. In the past, while browsing the book shelves at the Brodie Library, I have passed over Robert Crais numerous times while making a mental note to give his work a try some day, well that day was last week. It just so happened that I grabbed his first novel in the Elvis Cole series: The Monkey’s Raincoat.  Finally the drought is over.

Elvis Cole is a private detective situated in Hollywood. The witty wisecracking detective instantly appeals to the reader. Later, the detective’s moral compass solidifies this favourable opinion. In The Monkey’s Raincoat, Elvis Cole is hired to track down a woman’s kidnapped husband and son. Of course nothing is ever easy is crime fiction and the plot offers readers great twists and turns.  This book won Crais the Anthony Award for best first novel and over time his other books in the Cole series have also either been nominated for awards or award winners in fiction.

If you have ever read a Robert B. Parker’s Spencer novel and liked it; I highly recommend that you try out Elvis Cole. There are numerous similarities between the two lead characters and author writing styles. Both protagonists are extremely funny, often times offending other characters you want them to offend, take on only cases that they want and entertain the reader to no ends.  In addition, both are equipped to defend themselves, Spencer with a boxing background and Cole with a martial arts background and each do not quit or rest until the case is solved, sometimes taking it extremely personally.  I have only read two Cole novels thus far and can easily compare his honesty and integrity with that of Spencer. I have always loved the plotlines and writing of the early Spencer novels (books published up until the late 80’s) and can see Parker’s influence in the Crais novels.  Each detective even has a tough as nails sidekick/partner; while Spencer has Hawk, who assists the detective with the harder to handle cases, Cole has Joe Pike, his silent, never smiling and often absent partner in the detective agency. Pike is an intriguing character also, while appearing stoic and deadly he seems to have the same moral fiber as Cole.

There are numerous Elvis Cole novels for the reader to enjoy. I suggest starting with the first in the series and progressing from there. If you find you like the stories, there are many more to read. While I do plan on the reading the entire series, I have vowed to not just read everything all at once and to leave some for those drought periods. We’ll see if I actually do it, (I’m betting not).  Derek Gradner

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