Friday, August 17, 2018

Book Review: Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike #12)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great mystery and characters
Cons: Take the Darkness in the title seriously
The Bottom Line:
A case from the past
Elvis must learn the truth now
Compelling myst’ry

Cole’s Latest Client – His Reputation

When you are a private investigator, you need a client to get involved in a case, right?  After all, you’ve got to make money or there’s no point in putting your life in danger.  Yet that’s just what Elvis Cole does in Chasing Darkness – gets involved in a case without a client hiring him.  Then again, considering the case, his willingness to jump in makes perfect sense.

It all starts with the discovery of Lionel Byrd’s body in a home he was renting under an assumed name.  It appears to be suicide, but what makes it capture the police’s attention is the photo album found at his feet.  It contains pictures of women who have been murdered over the years.

And the police immediately head to Elvis Cole for answers.  You see, three years ago, Elvis had been hired by Lionel’s lawyer when Lionel was arrested for murder – the murder of one of the victims in the book.  And Elvis came up with an ironclad alibi for him.  While the police are just interested in his records from his investigation, Elvis is wondering what is going on.  He knows he was right three years ago.  So, what is really happening?  Is there still a serial killer out there ready to strike again?

The premise captured my attention immediately.  The evidence makes it hard to argue with the conclusion the police have reached, so I enjoyed watching Elvis try to figure out what is truly happening.  He hits a few dead ends and makes a couple of wrong turns along the way, but I was with him every step of the journey.  The climax leaves a few things up in the air, but Elvis acknowledges most of them as answers he’d still love to get but knows he never will.  Yes, this is one mystery that doesn’t wrap things up neatly while still giving us a satisfying answer to the big mystery.  It works.

Fans of Elvis’ partner Joe Pike will be disappointed to learn that he is more absent than usual in his book.  This is really Elvis’ story, and he shines in it.  We see a few other series regulars.  I’m happy to say that Carol Starkey was a fine addition to things here, and even John Chen wasn’t as creepy and annoying as normal.  Then again, he didn’t get much page time.  The rest of the characters come across as real as the book progresses.

You do need to take the title seriously.  This is a dark book, even for this semi-noir series.  The crimes are horrific and we get some detail about them that honestly, I could have done without.  Even Elvis’ trademark wit is in shorter supply than normal.  The book is definitely still worth reading, especially for fans of the series, but just know this going in.

Once again, I listened to the audio book narrated by James Daniels.  He’s done several of the audio books in the series now, and I’m enjoying his take on the characters.  I do wish they wouldn’t filter the dialogue that is coming through the phone, but that’s a production issues in many audio books that annoys me, and it’s a minor annoyance overall.

Chasing Darkness is another fine book that will please fans of author Robert Crais.  Grab it today and watch the pages fly.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Mysteries.

This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.


  1. Thanks for the review, Mark. I haven't read anything by Robert Crais in a while, but will put this one on my list. Joe Pike is an interesting character, but I prefer Elvis.

  2. Nice. It's been a long time since I read any Crais, the 1996 Sunset Express, I believe. I don't even recognize Carol Starkey or John Chen, I guess they came into the books later. Still, this makes me want to pick up the next in the series Indigo Slam (sounds like a MacDonald title, doesn't it?) and read it.