(The Times-Picayune, June 20, 1999)

Byline: Diana Pinckley

Here on the cusp of the summer, come two Louisiana Bobs bearing mysteries.

Bob Crais,  bayou-born but a longtime resident of Los Angeles, delivers in
"L.A. Requiem" the best in the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series to date. This
blockbuster will be one of the hottest beach books of the season.

"L.A. Requiem" is Joe Pike's book. In previous  Crais  works, Pike is the
silent, sharpshooting sidekick to private eye Elvis Cole, whose answering
machine identifies him as The World's Greatest Detective.

Elvis has a smart mouth, a quick wit and attitude to burn. In 1995's "Voodoo
River," he burned some of it in Louisiana, where he tracked down an adoption
and met Lucy Chenier, his Baton Rouge lawyer lady who has just moved to Los
Angeles to be a TV commentator and to love Elvis up close and personal.

But I've always loved Joe Pike. Maybe it's the sunglasses he wears at all times.
Maybe it's the tattoo of red arrows pointing forward on his deltoids. Maybe it's
the fact that he's the only other human being to whom Elvis' cat will give the time
of day.

"L.A. Requiem" opens with a flashback to a dozen years ago when Pike was a
uniformed L.A.P.D. cop, working a child pornography case with his partner Abel
Wozniak. Wozniak is 20 years older than Pike, and 20 years dirtier. When they
find the pornographer in a cheap hotel room, Wozniak loses it-- and then loses
his life. And a lot of cops are still out there wondering whether Pike murdered
his partner, even though he made it through an internal affairs investigation.

Elvis is helping Lucy and her 11-year-old son, Ben, unpack boxes in her new
apartment -- and rearranging the sofa for the umpteenth time-- when Pike calls.
Karen Garcia, a girlfriend from the Wozniak days, is missing, and her father,
Frank, has asked Pike to find her.

Her body turns up before long, and Frank uses his considerable political weight
to insert Pike and Elvis right into the middle of the police investigation, just to
make sure it's done right.

The cops aren't happy, especially Harvey Krantz, lead detective in the elite
robbery-homicide unit that catches the case. He was part of Pike's IAD
investigation back then, and neither of them has forgotten it. Then there's
Samantha Dolan, the first woman in robbery-homicide, famous for a TV
series based on her experience and so tough that she becomes only the
second outsider to win the approval of Elvis' cat.

Crais describes "L.A. Requiem" as a combination detective novel, police
procedural and suspense thriller. Its plot moves through serial killers, ice-
cold revenge, doppelgangers, lingering effects of childhood violence, sexism
on the force, fatal attractions and lethal media feeding frenzies. You just can't
take your eyes away.

And Crais can still turn a phrase with the best of them. "You were really close
with these people," Elvis says to Pike of the Garcias. "Pike went back to staring
out the window. Getting him to talk is like pulling your own teeth with pliers."

One of the achievements of this book is getting inside such a man. Through
flashbacks and deft character development,  Crais  lets us see Pike and then
lets us see him smile. True fans know what an accomplishment that is.

"You take care of yourself, Joe," Elvis says to Pike late in the book. "There
isn't so much love in the world that I can afford to lose you."

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