Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good characters and a strong plot
Cons: One mostly pointless scene filled with foul language
The Bottom Line:
Is Elvis on the right side?
Builds toward great climax
Who Can Elvis and Joe Trust?
While I have had my issues with the Elvis Cole mysteries by Robert Crais, I’ve still found them enjoyable enough to continue listening to them on audio. I’m glad, too, since Sunset Express is the best in the series to date.
It’s been three months since we last saw PI Elvis Cole and his partner Joe Pike. They’ve been hired by Jonathan Green, something of a legend in the defense attorney crowd, as part of his latest case. Teddy Martin, a rich kid who has gotten richer thanks to his restaurants, has been arrested for killing his wife, and the Big Green Defense Machine is trying to find anything they can to prove his innocence. They initially hire Elvis to see if there is anything to the rumors that the cop who found the murder weapon plants evidence, but it isn’t long before Elvis is also tracking down tips that come into the tip hotline that’s been set up.
But something doesn’t feel right to Elvis, and the more he gets involved in the case, the more he feels that way. Is he helping an innocent man? Or is he being set up himself?
The plot of this book is a lot of fun. Things slow down for Elvis and us a bit at one point, but that is the only issue with the pacing. In fact, it builds to a wonderful climax that had me glad I had several hours in the car planned so I could see how everything played out. Plus, he didn’t have to resort to a dues ex machina ending to resolve things this time around.
In addition to Elvis and Joe, we also get a couple of characters who return from the previous book in the series. I was thrilled to see them, especially since it meant that, for once, Elvis didn’t have women throwing themselves at him. That’s been an irritant for me in earlier books as every available woman seemed to want to go to bed with Elvis. Anyway, we actually get several cameos from previous books, and that’s a fun touch. We also get some great new characters here that were created just for this story.
Even with everything else firing on all cylinders, the author still can’t stop himself from putting in a scene that serves little purpose except to increase the foul language count. Yes, I know people use it, but there is a scene where we didn’t need to hear it and does little more than pad the word count with swear words. That’s my only real complaint with the novel.
David Stuart took over as the narrator on this audio book. I must admit I had to adjust to his take on things and the characters, especially Joe Pike. But as I got into the story, I noticed the changes less and less. If you go into this book with no preconceived ideas, you won’t notice at all because he really did a great job with the narration.
When Robert Crais is on, his books are great. Sunset Express is a fantastic PI novel and addition to the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series. Here’s hoping the next is just as strong.
If you are looking for more PI adventures, here are the rest of the Cole and Pike books in order.
This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.