My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The World's Greatest Detective, Elvis Cole, gets hired by the world's third most famous movie director, Peter Alan Nelson, to locate his ex-wife and son whom he lost contact with when the son was just a baby more than ten years ago. Nelson is a world-class narcissist that the movie studios just can't say no to, because he makes so much money for them with his adventure films. He always travels with an entourage and every sentence, every thought begins and ends with "I."
Finding the ex-wife and son proves to be easy enough for the World's Greatest Detective, even though she has changed her name and tried to obliterate any trace of her relationship with Nelson. She's living in a small town in Connecticut where she has forged a good life for herself and her son. She's the manager of the local bank and a realtor. Unfortunately, her position at the bank has put her in the clutches of a local gangster and mafia-type, who is forcing her to help launder his ill-gotten gains. She is caught and can't get free.
When he talks to her, Elvis learns that she doesn't want any part of her egotistical ex-husband or his money. She has never told her son who his father is. What she does want is to get free of the mafia and to be able to continue to live the quiet, normal life of a small town businesswoman and mother. The World's Greatest Detective offers to help her make that happen.
But in order to accomplish that, of course, Elvis has to call in the big guns - i.e, his partner, Joe Pike. Once Pike is in town, they formulate a plan to try to dislodge that unmovable object, the mafia. Then, Peter Alan Nelson shows up and throws a monkey wrench into the works.
This was the third in Robert Crais' Elvis Cole series and it seems to be a bit of a turning point. The first two books featured Elvis making one wisecrack after another. His response to any and every situation was the sarcastic retort. This one showed Elvis being somewhat more serious. The humor was still evident but it was toned down a bit. That was an improvement, in my opinion. Snark is perfectly fine in small doses, but a little goes a long way, especially when the character is dealing with life or death situations.
The story takes several twists and turns before building toward the final shootout which seems to be the trademark of a Crais thriller. I lost track of the body count, but all except one were bad guys - mostly very bad guys - and the reader is not unhappy to see them go.
These stories have been compared, both favorably and unfavorably, to Robert B. Parker's Spenser series. They also remind me somewhat of Lee Child's Reacher series. Elvis isn't quite the lone rolling stone that Reacher is, but their military backgrounds and personalities have similarities.
Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are an interesting duo, always on the side of the angels. I find it fascinating that no matter how many bad guys they whack, they never get arrested or asked too many embarrassing questions about the carnage. I guess the angels must be on their side, too.
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