Spoiler warning: I won’t reveal much of anything you shouldn’t already know about Pike from this book, but if you haven’t read any of the Elvis Cole books, there are series spoilers in this post.
Finished it last night. Apparently Robert Crais was at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and my sister, God bless her, picked up a copy and had him sign it… one reason to stick to paper instead of e-books! My sister said that Crais was enthusiastic to get a request for a personalized signature, apparently most people want a generic John Hancock to give them an e-Bayable item. Idiots. Thanks for the present, Megan, I loved it.
On the whole, I liked it immensely. I’ve always liked Joe Pike, and have been particularly fond of the fact that Mr. Crais has successfully written him into a number of Elvis Cole books without ruining him – a character like Pike would be *so* easy to screw up and turn one-dimensional, playing second fiddle to Elvis. Eleven books in, and instead the trickle of insights into Pike have come at a steady, even pace (until this book, of course) fleshing out the character instead of bleaching him. I also think that switching to Pike from Elvis as the primary mover of the story was brilliant given the events of The Forgotten Man. I was worried that Crais was going to crash the series and put out a “Elvis has an incredibly introspective recovery from being shot” book, and cutting the perspective over to Pike enabled Crais to continue the story of the pair without waxing melodramatic. I’ve been impressed with the Elvis/Pike books’ balance of character development with “action-fiction” story speed, this book delivers on that balance as well. Yay!
Of course, as a fan of the entire Elvis series, I’m dying to know how Mr. Cole’s personal life has progressed after The Forgotten Man, because I like Starkey better than Chenier, but I can handle the wait.
My one small complaint about this book is that a bit too much time (albeit a tiny amount of time) was devoted to talking about Pike’s relationship with his abusive father; it’s the first time I thought Crais was a little lazy in his writing. Not that this was unexpected (it’s been pretty obvious through the past 10 books that Pike has issues), but there were a couple of paragraphs that simply weren’t interesting (standard boilerplate “My father beat me” stuff), and one scene that would actually have been more powerful if it hadn’t been linked to Pike’s abusive father. It’s a pretty minor complaint, however… Crais makes up for it by spending the lion’s share of flashbacking talking about Pike’s relationship with Bud Flynn, which was more revealing into Pike’s character anyway.
I wonder if the choice of “Flynn” as a patronymic was a nod to McDonald’s F.X. Flynn, a charcter I like much more than the commercially popular Fletch.