L.A. Requiem puts Cole's partner at center of action

(The Sunday Advocate, September 5, 1999)


Longtime fans of novelist Robert  Crais  are calling L.A.Requiem a departure
of sorts from his previous eight books.

New fans like myself are just calling it great reading.

Crais, originally from Baton Rouge and now living in the Los Angeles area,
alternates narrative styles and tweaks the tried-and-true suspense formula as

In his previous books, the wisecracking private detective Elvis Cole has
usually taken center stage. But in L.A. Requiem, Cole's tough-guy partner
Joe Pike stars, stepping into a vortex swirling with elements of murder, rev-
enge and childhood tragedy. Cole's priority is reconnecting with his lawyer-
lover Lucy Chenier of New Orleans, who has just moved to L.A. But Pike
needs Cole's help in finding the missing daughter of Hispanic businessman
Frank Garcia. When the L.A. taco king's daughter turns up dead in Griffith
Park, Pike becomes a suspect. Cole must track down the real killer while
keeping Pike at a safe distance from the LAPD officers who are trying to
link Pike to other murders as well.

Crais' characters may seem stiff at first, but with the turning of every page,
they relax and come to life. None more so than Pike. Crais gives the reader
glimpses of the child abuse Joe suffered, his violent past and the reason he
is so universally hated by LAPD officers, his one-time colleagues- just one
question that keeps the reader obsessed with finishing the book. It's obvious
Crais has done his criminology homework here as the reader will get a solid
education in homicide investigation. Telling the story from varying viewpoints
and adding a late-in-the-book surprise,  Crais keeps the reader hooked.

Cole's smart-aleck one-liners can get tiresome, but somehow it keeps him real.
Don't we all know someone like Cole?

The list of potential suspects is long enough to keep the reader interested and
toying with several possible endings. Even so, you'll change your mind more
than once.

As for setting, Los Angeles itself becomes a major character in this novel. There
is a definite feeling to L.A., an atmosphere, a certain je ne sais quoi. Somehow,
Crais manages to capture the city's elusive qualities and put them into words.
People often love or hate L.A. But  Crais  knows it and perhaps that's why his
story rings so true.

Best of all, readers need not be familiar with Cole and Pike's earlier adventures
to enjoy L.A. Requiem. It stands on its own. Even so, new fans will probably
want to revisit some of Crais' earlier works.

L.A. Requiem is a story of substance. Spicing it up with unexpected twists and turns
is Crais' icing on the cake.

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