A Dangerous Man By Robert Crais: With its shifting perspectives, complex mystery and spine-tingling suspense, this is a series that both impresses and delights - book review -

A Dangerous Man
A Dangerous Man
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One of Crais’ best books yet, as Cole and Pike tackle a case which begins in the most inauspicious of circumstances and snowballs into a tense and electrifying thriller filled with mystery, malevolence and high-octane action.

Thirty-two years ago, US author Robert Crais won hearts, minds, accolades and awards for The Monkey’s Raincoat, the first book in his exceptionally entertaining Elvis Cole and Joe Pike crime series which is set against the sea, sunshine and boulevards of Southern California.

The novel introduced detective mystery fans to the star pairing of wisecracking private eye Elvis Cole, and his partner, Joe Pike, an ex-LAPD cop and former Marine, a man as uptight and laconic as Cole is laid-back and sardonic.

Eighteen books later, tough nuts Cole and Pike are still cracking crime with their trademark mirth and muscle, and Crais, who spent several years writing scripts for major TV series like Hill Street Blues, Cagney & Lacey, Miami Vice, and L.A. Law, has turned his double act into a bestselling, best-loved detective series.

And this renowned storyteller shows no sign of flagging in A Dangerous Man, perhaps one of Crais’ best books yet, as Cole and Pike tackle a case which begins in the most inauspicious of circumstances and snowballs into a tense and electrifying thriller filled with mystery, malevolence and high-octane action.

Joe Pike didn’t want to run into trouble that day… he was simply going to the bank in Los Angeles to deposit some cash and cheques. Mission accomplished, he returned to his Jeep parked outside and it was at that moment that it all started to go wrong.

Pike notices ‘details,’ not least because multiple tours with the Marines in hotspots like Central America and Afghanistan had ‘baked in his skills.’ And when he sees Isabel (Izzy) Roland, the 22-year-old teller who has just served him in the bank, step out of the building only to be rapidly bundled into the back of a car by two men, he feels he has no choice but to follow them.

After chasing the car down, he rescues the terrified Izzy and the men are arrested. But not long after they are released on bail, the men are found dead, each professionally executed with a single gunshot wound to the head… and Izzy is missing.

After his rough handling of the abductors, Pike is a prime suspect, and so is Izzy… so was this a kidnap gone wrong, or did it go exactly how she planned? Still convinced that Izzy’s life is in danger, Pike calls on his friend, Elvis Cole, to help him find her and discover the truth.

What Elvis uncovers is a twisted family story that involves corporate whistleblowing, huge amounts of cash, a witness relocation programme, and a long line of lies. But did Izzy know about this, is she really a victim, and how far will Joe go to find out?

Crais is on first class form in this new outing for the dynamic duo as the strong, silent Pike finds himself in the unusual position of getting (almost) close and warm with Izzy, the bright and bubbly damsel in distress who might or might not be complicit in crime.

And whilst the stern, steely Pike provides the brawn, cool-hand Cole strolls in with the brains, the detective work and the dark brand of humour that leavens the violence and makes these mysteries not just intriguing but downright fun.

Meanwhile, the action is full-throttle, the writing is taut and perfectly paced with not a word out of place, the multi-layered plotting is woven by the hand of a master, and each character possesses the zing, zest and flawless credibility that we have come to expect from a true craftsman.

With its shifting perspectives, complex mystery and spine-tingling suspense, this is a series that both impresses and delights.

(Simon & Schuster, hardback, £16.99)