Friday, June 19, 2015

Book Review: Lullaby Town by Robert Crais (Cole/Pike #3)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good characters in a story that keeps the tension building
Cons: Joe Pike still a bit flat, language
The Bottom Line:
Finding missing son
Opens a huge can of worms
Good PI story

Lullaby Town Will Not Put You to Sleep

Well over a decade ago, I read the first two Elvis Cole mysteries by Robert Crais and never moved on to the third.  Last summer, I listened to the first two on audio with the intent of moving on to the third.  When I remembered just how dark the second book was, I almost didn’t move on to Lullaby Town again.  That would have been a mistake.

PI Elvis Cole’s latest client is Peter Alan Nelson, the latest “it” director in Hollywood.  People want just a moment of his time in hopes that it will make their career.  However, Elvis is just interested in doing this job for Peter, treating him like any regular client.

It seems that Peter was married and divorced over a decade ago.  It didn’t last too long, but it lasted long enough to produce a son.  Suddenly, Peter wants to get to know his child.  Elvis doesn’t think the job will be too hard, although the trail is a little colder than he expects at first.  However, he never imagines the world of trouble he will find at the end of his search.

What turned me off to the second book both times was how truly dark and depressing that story got.  Now don’t get me wrong, this book isn’t nearly as light as I normally enjoy, but it is a much lighter shade of gray.  You’ll still get more language and violence than the cozies I normally read.  Know that going into the book, and you should be okay.

The plot starts fine with Elvis following his normal steps to find a missing person.  However, about a third of the way through, things take a sharp turn and the book never slows down.  I was listening to this book on audio, and that kept me from knowing just how much time was truly left in the book, which means a few of the twists caught me off guard.

The characters in the story are strong.  Since most of it takes place outside of Cole’s native LA, the only returning characters are Cole and his partner Joe Pike.  They are fun leads, and I enjoyed spending time with them again.  In my mind, some of the better characters were the new characters in the book.  They were the ones that showed the most growth over the course of the story, and I loved them more for it.

This book was published in 1992, and that dates some of the references in the story.  On the other hand, I loved the pop culture references Cole made along the way.  Just remember the year as you go, and you’ll be fine.

Of course, my overall complaints about the series do continue here.  Joe Pike is more a caricature than a true character.  He’s fun and I like him, but he’s more of a superhero than anything else.  And the characters swear.  I’m not talking about just in moments of stress.  I’m talking in their everyday dialogue as they are chatting with each other.  Crais could cut out half the swear words and still get his point with the characters across.  It truly wears on me.  At least Elvis didn’t have women throwing themselves at him this time around.  That was a very welcome change.

The audio version I listened to was once again narrated by Mel Foster.  He is fantastic at capturing Elvis in the first person narration and giving his sarcasm the right touch without getting in the way of the story.

I’m glad I’ve finally moved on to Lullaby Town, and it gives me hope that I will enjoy further books in the series.  I will definitely be tackling Elvis’s next case soon.

And you can tackle his next case, too, with the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series in order.

This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.  Follow the link to find more great mysteries.


  1. I love this book. Reread it all the time. Needless to say, I love the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series first to last. I didn't much notice all the swear words you're talking about, Mark. I was having too much fun with the characters I guess. This book has one of Crais' more magnificent endings. Those pages spent in the woods near the end with the bad guys skulking through the trees and Elvis and Joe picking them off. Some of the best thriller writing out there.

    1. I think I tend to notice a bit more in the audio then while reading a book. Either that or Crais just uses too many of them period.

      That ending actually caught me by surprise since I didn't know how much time was left in the book. It was certainly fantastic.


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