Kemper's Reviews > Stalking The Angel

Stalking The Angel by Robert Crais
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Sep 19, 2015

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bookshelves: 2011, crime-mystery, detectives, elvis-cole-joe-pike
Read from March 21 to 24, 2011

Damn it, Robert Crais. I really want to like you, but two books in and this still feels like awkward blind dating rather than true love.

Elvis Cole is hired by wealthy Bradley Warren to recover a rare Japanese manuscript that has been stolen. Warren only cares about using the manuscript to impress his Japanese business partners. When Warren’s wife and daughter are threatened, too, Elvis ends up getting on the bad side of the yakuza.

I should be all over these Crais novels. A smart-mouthed gun-toting PI with a bad ass friend is something that I can’t get enough of in other books. But something just isn’t clicking here. When I read the first Elvis Cole novel, The Monkey’s Raincoat, I thought that Crais was doing a west coast version of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels and that impression continues here.

The Monkey’s Raincoat turned into a much better book about halfway through, and I was looking for this one to move up a gear, too. Unfortunately, while Crais tried, he didn’t succeed as well as the first one. I still had the same complaints. Elvis doesn’t seem so much like a character as a creation of character traits from the ‘80s school of wise ass detectives. I’m surprised he isn’t meeting Axel Foley for beers.

It isn’t Crais’ fault that I’m reading these over 20 years after he wrote them and that they seem dated in a lot of ways to me, but there are just too many clichés for me too overlook in this. Bradley Warren is a rich asshole right out of central casting. His wife is a neglected drunk with hot pants. His daughter is ignored. His secretary is all business and loyal to him, but eventually warms up to Elvis’s unorthodox methods. There’s an Asian factor to the plot so the yakuza has to be involved. The Bad Ass Criminal Friend is Joe Pike who always wears his sunglasses, even at night. When trying to stir things up, Elvis and Joe go to a club that the bad guys hang out in and cause a scene to get a reaction. *yawn* I think I saw all this in a movie starring Michael Pare in 1989.

Plus, Elvis is just such a relentless smart ass that he tends to get on my nerves. Characters like Marlowe, Spenser or Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie can be wise asses and tough guys, but it feels like Cole can’t let the mildest thing go by without trying to act like a comic at open mic night.

There’s also a lot that doesn’t make sense. At one point, Elvis and Joe are together trying to find someone. Then they split up and Elvis spends like two days flying solo when he tracks that person down and does a bunch of other stuff without once calling Joe, who one assumes spent all that time looking for this person himself because Elvis doesn’t bother to tell him that he figured it all out. That’s just some weak story telling.

Still, I find myself liking Crais’s writing and these books. I hope that as the books get in the ‘90s and beyond that Elvis will start maturing and be a detective who occasionally makes a smart ass comment rather than a smart ass playing detective.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent Give Crais one more chance! Maybe he'll put out for you on the third date...


Kemper Dan wrote: "Give Crais one more chance! Maybe he'll put out for you on the third date..."

He better. There's plenty of other crime writers out there looking for a good time.


message 3: by Nathan (new)

Nathan White jeans?


James Thane I agree with virtually everything you wrote here; still, for some reason I like Cole better than you do. I have always had problems with the Joe Pike character, though, and now that Crais's newer books feature much more Pike and a lot less Cole, I'm not as taken with them as I once was.


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