Bill Kerwin's Reviews > The Monkey's Raincoat

The Monkey's Raincoat by Robert Crais
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really liked it
bookshelves: 20th-c-amer, detective-mystery


Browbeaten into seeing a detective by her best friend Jane, Elvis Cole’s client Ellen Lang is still reluctant. She doesn’t wish to cause any trouble for her husband Mort—even though he’s cheating on her, even though he has threatened to leave. But now Mort has disappeared, and their son Perry has disappeared with him.

Elvis signs on to find them both, and soon discovers that talent agent Mort, desperate to keep his failing business afloat, has become involved with sketchy people with even sketchier connections. Before long Ellen’s apartment is ransacked, a death and another disappearance follow, and Elvis realizes he has a dangerous case on his hands.

I’m almost two-thirds done with my re-reading of Robert Parker’s Spenser series, and I’ve been looking around for another series to read once I’m done. After this first Elvis Cole mystery, I think I’ve found what I need. Crais clearly loves his Spenser, and has adopted many of Parker’s tricks and tropes: wisecracks, sharp scenic descriptions with random bystanders, great tough guy dialog, detailed (too detailed!) descriptions of meals, and even a cute animal (not a dog like Pearl this time, but instead a feral cat that drinks beer.)

Cole is much like Spenser too: a smart-ass with a smart-mouth who is still essentially a boy scout, a man with few illusions who yet strives to be a boy’s version of a knightly hero. The Disney décor of Elvis’ office makes his boyishness clear right away: his desk is covered with Jiminy Cricket figurines, and one of his walls sports a Pinnochio clock, whose eyes move disconcertingly from side to side. And Cole is aware of this boyishness: “I have quite a charming smile,” Elvis says, “Like Peter Pan. Innocent, but with the touch of the rake.” And when Elvis the boyish hard-ass needs an even harder-ass than himself, he calls on his own personal “Hawk” Joe Pike, tight-lipped gun store proprietor and mercenary-for-hire.

I found these similarities to Parker attractive, but if you find them both imitative and irritating, hang on at least until you reach the last half of the book. The plot gets darker, the writing less derivative, and the book concludes with a dramatic attack by the good guys on the bad guys—one of the best sustained action sequences I’ve read in a long time.
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Reading Progress

January 25, 2018 – Started Reading
January 25, 2018 – Shelved
January 25, 2018 – Shelved as: 20th-c-amer
January 25, 2018 – Shelved as: detective-mystery
January 25, 2018 –
page 22
10.95%
January 26, 2018 –
page 46
22.89%
January 27, 2018 –
page 66
32.84%
January 28, 2018 –
page 80
39.8%
January 29, 2018 –
page 103
51.24%
January 30, 2018 –
page 144
71.64%
January 30, 2018 –
page 134
66.67%
January 31, 2018 –
page 162
80.6%
February 2, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Glen (new)

Glen I really like most of Crais's stuff.


message 2: by John (new) - added it

John Culuris And Crais begins his break with Parker with the next book. Soon you’ll be able to read these without thinking of Spenser at all. And I’m only through #5.


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