Friday, December 2, 2011

Review of LA Requiem by Robert Crais (Orion, 1999)

Elvis Cole runs a PI agency in LA with the silent, brooding Joe Pike. Both are former elite soldiers and are highly skilled investigators. When Karen Garcia goes missing her father calls on Pike, a former lover of Garcia, to find her. A few hours later she's found next to a lake, shot in the head. The investigation is to be conducted by detectives from Robbery-Homicide headed up by the weasely Krantz. Pike and Krantz have a troubled history stretching back to when Pike was a rookie cop and his partner was under investigation by internal affairs. Garcia's father has some political juice and uses his influence to allow Cole and Pike to shadow the police investigation. Frustrated by Krantz's lack of cooperation and ineptness they strike out on their own, quickly discovering that Garcia was the fifth victim of a serial killer, one who seems determined to exact revenge for some unknown reason.

Without wishing to offend either author, LA Requiem reminded a lot of Michael Connelly's LA stories, especially those concerning Harry Bosch. The writing style, setting and focus seemed very similar to me - LA, Robbery-Homicide, serial killer, investigators who are Vietnam vets. This is no bad thing as I think both are very fine writers, rather just an observation. LA Requiem rattles along at quick, steady pace. Crais writes with an assured hand. The story is well crafted, with a nice layering of various subplots and back story that add to the overall narrative rather than detracting from it. Crais paints a good sense of place, the characters are well penned, and the story builds to a nice climax. There were a few elements that unsettled me a little, however. Maybe it's because I don't live in the US, but I had a hard time believing that two private investigators could get any meaningful access to a serial killer investigation, especially not through a councilman (perhaps maybe something more significant like a governor I could have gone along with). The Samantha Dolan character didn't quite seem to ring true, especially in her quest for Cole. And regardless of any material evidence relating to Pike, the fact that he escaped from incarceration would have legal consequences. Despite the niggling doubts about credibility, LA Requiem is an enjoyable read and I'll be looking out for other Elvis Cole books.


Maxine Clarke said...

I agree that these are rather like Michael Connelly's books. One time, both authors decided to put each other's character in a fleeting sentence in each other's book that year. I prefer the Elvis books to the Joe Pike books, they are always a good, undemanding read as you write.

Yvette said...

Despite your minor hesitations, I'm glad to see someone writing about one of my favorite authors.

I much prefer Robert Crais' work to Michael Connelly. I read all the Elvis and Joe books, but only occasionally read the Harry Bosch ones. (My favorite of those are ECHO PARK and TRUNK MUSIC. But I think THE POET is Connelly's best book so far.)

To really appreciate LA REQUIEM, I think, it helps to have read a few of the previous books in the series to get an idea of the relationship between Elvis and Joe which is really what the books are about - the depth of that friendship.

I thought LA REQUIEM was brilliant, the culmination of what had come before.

I am also loving the books told from Joe Pike's point of view of the last couple of years. My favorites being THE FIRST RULE and THE SENTRY.

Anonymous said...

I haven't gotten to this one in reading he series, I'm still a couple of books away, but I've enjoyed every Cole/Pike book I've read so far.