Byline: Laura Dempsey
Robert Crais' name dominates the cover
of his new novel, Sunset
Express, with type in a size usually reserved for the Grishams and
Higgins Clarks of the publishing world. Why? You may well wonder.
His books are boilerplate detective stories, populated by a bunch of
eccentric characters whose high ethics can override their ability to do
the job, who talk in clever phrases and who get involved in some really
It's everything you've read before, but hey, Crais'
stuff is fun and fast and -
dare we say it? - even socially relevant. And Crais is poised on the edge
of serious name recognition, all on the strength of reader recognition and
their inability to keep a good thing to themselves.
'There's been fabulous word of mouth in the marketplace,'
speaking by phone from his home in Los Angeles.
Sunset Express explores the case of a rich man
who murdered his wife,
where iffy evidence and sleazy lawyers abound. It takes place in southern
California, where Louisiana-born Crais has lived most of his adult life.
'Yeah, we've got O.J., but we also have the Menendez
brothers and all
manner of outrages that go on. This book was the result of me trying to
figure out what I was going to do with all the anger and frustration I felt
about these various trials and the circuses they've become,' Crais says.
Crais got started in television, scripting
plots for Beretta, Quincy, Cagney
and Lacey, Miami Vice, Hill Street Blues - the list is seemingly endless and
very impressive - but now he's fully ensconced in literary fiction and plans
to stay there. He uses a recurring private detective, Elvis Cole, to streamline
the stories and drive home his point, which, he says, is expanding with every
'The private investigator is a classic device,
a person who comes into a dis-
orderly situation and divines order. I take it a step further- what's become
obvious over six books is that the P.I. is finally investigating himself.
'The appeal of the P.I. is personal. I'm writing
to explore some part of me.'
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