The Last Detective

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Another book down on the "Reread Robert Crais" project. This one, from 2003, returned to his primary characters, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, after a two-book, four-year hiatus. Readers who come to the series for Elvis's wisecracks might be disappointed, because he's deadly serious here, all the way through.

Elvis's relationship with his true love, Lucy Chenier, is threatened when her 10-year-old son, Ben, is kidnapped while playing in Elvis's backyard. From under Elvis's nose, nearly literally. It soon becomes apparent that Ben's been abducted by some extremely dangerous professionals who claim to be seeking revenge on Elvis for an ill-fated Army operation long ago in Vietnam. Lucy's rich ex-husband, Richard, shows up, blaming the snatch on Elvis's (admitted) past history of battling murderous and psychotic villains.

The bad guys have covered their tracks well, but you don't want to go up against an Elvis obsessed with thwarting you. Not to mention Joe PIke, who's physically damaged from the previous book, but still remains an unstoppable force of nature. Things move fast, and violently. Pages keep turning…

We also get to relive some harrowing episodes from Elvis's past; his Vietnam tour was no picnic, neither was his young life with a reality-challenged mother.

Foul-mouthed Carol Starkey, Crais's heroine from Demolition Angel, has a major role here; she seems to have cut down on the gin, while increasing her intake of cigarettes and antacids. She develops a grudging respect for Elvis's detecting skills, and could she be getting kind of googly-eyed by the end? Yes.