“A Dangerous Man” by Robert Crais – Review

Somewhere between a decade or two ago, knowing I’m a fan of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser, JP recommended a favourite PI to me: Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole.

Like Spenser, Cole starts out as a self-amusing, romantic, tough and independently-directed detective, with a lethal associate who inhabits a legal grey area. The Monkey’s Raincoat was the first in 1987, and A Dangerous Man is the 18th to feature to Cole. The early Cole books are told in wise-cracking first person, but in some of the later books the lethal associate Joe Pike becomes the lead – in this one, there’s no first-person Elvis, although he does appear. (Like Parker, Crais also writes books set in the same continuity but which aren’t Cole and Pike books – but then he sometimes writes those characters into the series – I guess you’d call them spin-ons or something.)

Crais is incredibly easy to read, with punchy dialogue, evocative descriptions of LA and characters that are well-drawn. If you’re familiar with some of the back-story you get a particular insight into some of their deeper motivations. But the later books are nowhere near as distinctive as the earlier Cole-centric novels.

A Dangerous Man is a fast-moving an effective thriller, which sees Pike happen across a kidnapping. But although he thwarts the kidnappers, it’s not clear what they were after of whether the victim might still be in danger…

Crais has hit upon a satisfying formula and I still enjoy reading these even if I’m struggling to recollect any of the specifics of the story in writing this!

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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