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Published by Orion Books, 14 Jnauary 2016. ISBN: 978 1 4091 2715 4 (HB)
Los Angeles private eye Elvis Cole is hired by Meryl
Lawrence to find her friend and colleague Amy Breslyn. Both women work for a
business manufacturing fuels for the U.S. Department of Defense. Their work is
classified ie Top Secret which is why Meryl insists that the arrangement
between her and Elvis remain totally confidential. She will not even permit
Elvis to come to her own apartment; instead they meet in a series of anonymous
carparks. The reason for her concern is that after Amy, a single mother, had
lost her only child Jacob, a journalist, in a terrorist outrage in Nigeria she
withdrew into a shell and Meryl, anxious to help her friend in her agonising
but silent grief, had persuaded her to meet someone via an online dating site.
Now Amy has disappeared and with her a large sum of money from the department
where she worked. Meryl cannot, for security reasons, give Elvis more details
about Amy’s work nor will she provide even the name of the apparent new man in
Amy’s life although she tells Elvis that whatever Amy has done he put her up to
it. All she can provide is the name and address of a friend of Jacob’s, one Tom
Lerner whom she feels sure will know more about Amy than anyone else. But when
Elvis gets to the house there is no answer to his knock so he decides to wait.
Then the police turn up in force pursuing a homicide suspect (a young Mexican
male) at the address. When Elvis sees a man leaving the house in a furtive
manner he gives chase he gives chase but the police intervene saying that man
is not the man they want. There is a heavy police presence and everyone in the
houses roundabout is being evacuated. Outside Lerner’s house is a vehicle with
the words BOMB SQUAD on the side.
narrative switches to one of the police officers, Officer K-9 (‘canine’!) Scott
James, who, with his dog Maggie, is pursuing the homicide suspect. He speaks
first of all to the apparent occupier, a white middle-aged Anglo, clearly not
the suspect and who denies having seen anyone of that description. But Maggie
is very highly trained and it is obvious that the suspect’s scent does lead
after all to the house. When Scott gains access he sees that the young Mexican
is there and is dead from a vicious head wound. More than that, alerted by
Maggie who is specially trained for these purposes, the house is stuffed full
of explosives. Police suspicion switches to the man Elvis saw leaving the house
but Elvis, restricted by the promise of confidentiality made to Meryl, says that
he was looking for Lerner in order to ask him for collaboration on a literary
project. Unsurprisingly, the police appear unconvinced: they let him go but surely
he will have more questions to answer.
the narrative switches to the man, ‘Mr Rollins’, whom Elvis saw leaving the
house. He has killed the young Mexican because the police are on to him and he
is a danger to Rollins and his schemes. But the only person who can tie him to
the house is Scott James and his dog. So Scott must be eliminated. And so must
the dog. Meanwhile Meryl is insistent that Elvis keep his promise and find Amy
while the police, uncertain of his motives, are watching him closely. Elvis
needs the help of his partner Joe Pike and his associate Jon Stone to find the
truth about Amy and about the web of lies which has been woven round her.
Crais has written a number of novels featuring Elvis Cole in the American
private tradition of which he is one of the best. As can be seen from the
outline of the first few chapters the pace is fast-moving and complicated. These
in particular which are parallel accounts of the same events need to be read
with great attention. But the book as a whole is highly satisfying.
Crais is the
author of the best-selling Elvis Cole novels. A native of Louisiana, he grew up
on the banks of the Mississippi River in a blue collar family of oil refinery
workers and police officers.After years
of amateur film-making and writing short fiction, he journeyed to Hollywood in
1976 where he quickly found work writing scripts for such major television
series as Hill Street Blues, Cagney & Lacey, and Miami
Vice, as well as numerous series pilots and Movies-of-the-Week for
the major networks. He received an Emmy nomination for his work on Hill
Street Blues. In the mid-eighties, feeling constrained by the
collaborative working requirements of Hollywood, Crais resigned from a
lucrative position as a contract writer and television producer in order to
pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a novelist. His first efforts proved
unsuccessful, but upon the death of his father in 1985, Crais was inspired to
create Elvis Cole, using elements of his own life as the basis of the story.
The resulting novel, The Monkey’s
Raincoat, won the Anthony and Macavity Awards and was nominated for the
Edgar Award. It has since been selected as one of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century by the Independent Mystery
Booksellers Association. Currently, Robert Crais lives in the Santa Monica
mountains with his wife, three cats, and many thousands of books.
Radmila Maywas born
in the US but has lived in the UK ever since apart from seven years in The
Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead
she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and has been working for
them off and on ever since. For the last few years she was one of three editors
working on a new edition of a practitioners' text book on Criminal Evidence by
her late husband; the book has now been published thus giving her time to
concentrate on her own writing. She also has an interest in archaeology in
which subject she has a Diploma.