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Chasing Darkness (Elvis Cole Novels)by Robert Crais
Synopses & Reviews
Elvis Cole is Back--In a Desperate Fight to Clear his Name...
It's fire season, and the hills of Los Angeles are burning. When police and fire department personnel rush door to door in a frenzied evacuation effort, they discover the week-old corpse of an apparent suicide. But the gunshot victim is less gruesome than what they find in his lap: a photo album of seven brutally murdered young women — one per year, for seven years. And when the suicide victim is identified as a former suspect in one of the murders, the news turns Elvis Cole's world upside down.
Three years earlier Lionel Byrd was brought to trial for the murder of a female prostitute named Yvonne Bennett. A taped confession coerced by the police inspired a prominent defense attorney to take Byrd's case, and Elvis Cole was hired to investigate. It was Cole's eleventh-hour discovery of an exculpatory videotape that allowed Lionel Byrd to walk free. Elvis was hailed as a hero.
But the discovery of the death album in Byrd's lap now brands Elvis as an unwitting accomplice to murder. Captured in photographs that could only have been taken by the murderer, Yvonne Bennett was the fifth of the seven victims — two more young women were murdered after Lionel Byrd walked free. So Elvis can't help but wonder — did he, Elvis Cole, cost two more young women their lives?
Shut out of the investigation by a special LAPD task force determined to close the case, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike desperately fight to uncover the truth about Lionel Byrd and his nightmare album of death — a truth hidden by lies, politics, and corruption in a world where nothing is what it seems to be.
Chasing Darkness is a blistering thriller from the bestselling author who sets the standard for intense, powerful crime writing.
"Crais returns L.A. PI Elvis Cole to center stage after 2007's The Watchman, which showcased Cole's partner, Joe Pike, though Cole doesn't wisecrack as much as usual and he has only a few scenes with close friends to reveal his warmth and decency. This one is all about plot; the story opens with a bang and never slows. While clearing houses in the path of a forest fire in Laurel Canyon, police officers find the body of Lionel Byrd, an apparent suicide. Three years earlier, Cole, working for Byrd's attorney, uncovered evidence that cleared Byrd of a murder charge. Now new evidence suggests that he was guilty of that murder and six others, two of them committed after Cole helped exonerate him. Torn by guilt, Cole plunges into his own investigation, which leads in startling directions. Established fans will enjoy a dramatic story built not on mere twists but on hard 90-degree turns. To get the full richness of Cole and Pike, new readers should start with one of the early novels. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
At the start of Robert Crais' 11th Elvis Cole novel, a fire has broken out in the Hollywood Hills and is sweeping through Laurel Canyon. A young cop and an old cop on the scene "could smell the fire — it was still a mile away, but a sick desert wind carried the promise of Hell." The young cop is awed that Joni Mitchell once lived nearby, but the other one doesn't give a damn. Their job is to go door... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) to door and make sure people evacuate. We see snapshots of the chaos: "They passed a little girl following her mother to an SUV, the girl dragging a cat carrier so heavy she couldn't lift it. Her mother was crying." Finally, at one house, the policemen smell death. Inside, they find the body of a man, an apparent suicide, and nearby a scrapbook with gruesome photographs of seven women who appear to have been murdered. Crais didn't have to set Laurel Canyon on fire. A deliveryman or the landlord could have found the body. But that raging fire previews what lies ahead: a world of sudden danger and surprises, the fulfillment of that early promise of Hell. Crais' private investigator, Elvis Cole, soon becomes involved in the case of the corpse with the scrapbook. The Los Angeles police insist that the dead man killed all seven of the women, and they thus claim to have exposed a serial killer. Cole, however, suspects that a senior police official is trying to close the cases to protect a prominent politician. At that point, I feared we were entering territory — high-level corruption in the LAPD — that we've often seen before, notably in Michael Connelly's novels. But Crais' story keeps veering off in unexpected directions. You won't guess the ending of "Chasing Darkness," but you'll probably be intrigued by it. Along the way, there's some fine writing. At one point, Cole enters the world of a rich Hispanic power broker and the politicians and fixers he controls. It's a dead-on glimpse of backroom politics. One fixer says of political donors: "They make the investment now, they get the favors later. Politics is like Oz, only you never see the magician behind the curtain." I don't put Crais in the first rank of today's crime writers, because I don't think his work has the extra dimension that distinguishes the very best of the genre: Connelly's characterization of Harry Bosch, for example, or the portrait of black Washington in George Pelecanos' novels. But I would include Crais, along with Lee Childs, T. Jefferson Parker and numerous others, in the next rank — writers whose books are almost always intelligent, expertly written and a pleasure to read. Elvis Cole operates on a human scale. He has his quirks: a Pinocchio clock on his wall, a Mickey Mouse phone on his desk and a cat he's been known to talk to. He's smart and not notably violent, in part because he has his lethal sidekick, Joe Pike, to watch his back. Crais knows Los Angeles well, and he creates a vivid gallery of sinister and surprising characters for Cole to encounter as goes his stubborn way. Cole sees "chasing darkness" — combating the evil of the world — as his mission, much as Connelly's Harry Bosch has embraced the "blue religion" of police work. The Cole books are first-rate entertainment. If you don't know them, this one is a good starting point. Reviewed by Patrick Anderson, whose e-mail address is mondaythrillers(at symbol)aol.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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During a fire evacuation, police find the burned corpse of an apparent suicide, and in his lap is a photo album of seven brutally murdered young women--one per year, for seven years. When the man is identified as a former suspect in one of the murders, the news turns detective Elvis Cole's world upside down.
After the fabulous success of THE WATCHMAN, Crais comes roaring back with his Elvis Cole series. Elvis was a hero when he cleared an innocent man of a murder charge. But when that innocent man is found dead three years later holding photos of the victim, Elvis is the one on trial.
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