Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chasing Darkness, by Robert Crais ($9.99)

This is the twelfth book starring Elvis Cole, private eye. Sidekick Joe Pike is back in the box and only out for special occasions. Everything is as it should be.

The plot is very serious, weighted with potential police corruption and serial killings, but it is tempered by what Crais does very well, little touches of eccentricity. Elvis' quirkiness shines through, from his choice of a Pinnochio clock to his oddly temperamental cat.

Carol Starkey, resurrected after dying in an explosion and now late of the bomb squad (Demolition Angel), makes an appearance in Chasing Darkness as a homicide detective. She gives such a welcome and different perspective to the book, I looked ahead to read just her parts. She's got the woo-hoos for our boy, but Elvis is still carrying a gigantic Lucy torch. Let's chip in together and get a big bucket of water for that torch.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch … A case Elvis had a few years ago comes back to haunt him. The defendant Elvis helped exonerate of murder is found dead, with a scrapbook full of incriminating photographs of murder victims lying nearby, including one of the woman he was charged with murdering. If Elvis' original research was accurate, then the dead man, morally repugnant though he may be, is innocent. So the question is, who is the real killer? Unfortunately, a potential crack appears in his original theory, and the what-ifs begin. Two more women were murdered after the dead man was freed, and the thought that he might be responsible drives Elvis to desperate measures.

Elvis tries to reconstruct the stories of the serial killer's victims. He eventually finds that a high-ranking member of the police department has put the department's files in lockdown, with only select members of a task force authorized to access them. Is it to protect the files or to obscure misconduct?

Crais does a great job of creating interesting characters, a complex plot, and a thoughtful and lyrical last paragraph.

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