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The last detective by Robert Crais

The last detective (original 2003; edition 2003)

by Robert Crais

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1,285226,096 (3.81)21
Title:The last detective
Authors:Robert Crais
Info:New York : Doubleday, c2003.
Collections:Read but unowned

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The Last Detective by Robert Crais (2003)

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
This is not one of Robert Crais' better offerings. Perhaps the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series is running out of steam.

The introduction of Lucy Chenier and her son Ben in Voodoo River was a positive development that gave Elvis Cole a chance to grow beyond the typical one-night-stand detective common in pulp thrillers (e.g., Jack Reacher and Virgil Flowers). Although authors seldom know what to do with the family of their protagonist (e.g., Ridley Pearson's Lou Boldt), some do occasionally feature a family member in a way that creates an independently interesting character. A good example is Letty Davenport, the daughter of Lucas Davenport featured in Wicked Prey. Unfortunately, Crais' treatment of Lucy and Ben has not risen above the status of a lame plot device.

Lucy and in this book Ben have been used by Crais in an unsuccessful attempt to create a heightened sense of tension. The effort has been unsuccessful because readers have never been given a reason to believe that Lucy or Ben would be harmed. The novels are structured in such a way that the only feasible outcome is that Cole and Pike will succeed. That is the case in The Last Detective. Lucy is on a business trip to San Diego and Ben is kidnapped while staying with Lucas. Lucy, is panic stricken and blames Lucas. Her feelings spill over to Joe, who is also told in no uncertain terms that his presence in her life is unwelcome. How could this story possibly end without the unfairly accused Cole and Pike saving the day?

Crais' other plot elements are growing boringly routine. The police show little initiative and Cole and Pike quickly discover critical information while the primary role of the officials is to impede their investigation. We are led to believe that the kidnappers are extraordinarily efficient killers, despite the fact that the primary activity of two of them is terrorizing a ten year old boy. The climax features yet another battle to the death in which the outnumbered Cole and Pike manage to kill the kidnappers. This time it is Elvis' turn to be seriously injured when, desperate to save his life, he grabs the blade of a knife. Crais seems to lack the necessary background or imagination to know the almost certain outcome of such a behavior is the death of Elvis Cole.

Having decided that Lucy and Ben have outlived their usefulness, in the penultimate scene Lucy decides to leave Los Angeles. She is moving to a location where Ben can lead a normal life. I guess readers are supposed to overlook the fact that most of the abnormality she and Ben have experienced in Crais' novels has originated from the very place to which they are moving. Go figure!

Will Cole now become a one-night-stand detective, will he meet his next "true love," or will he spend the next couple of novels as a sad and lonely guy, lamenting the loss of his one true love? I don't know but I welcome the opportunity to see what Crais can come up without Lucy, Ben, and Richard Chenier as plot devices in the story. ( )
  Tatoosh | Nov 27, 2016 |
From Amazon:

P.I. Elvis Cole’s relationship with attorney Lucy Chenier is strained. Then the unthinkable happens. While Lucy is away on business and her ten-year-old son Ben is staying with Elvis, the boy vanishes without a trace. When the kidnappers call, it’s not for ransom, but for a promise to punish Cole for past sins he claims he didn't commit. With the LAPD wrestling over the case, and the boy’s estranged father attempting to take control of the investigation, Cole vows to find Ben first. But Cole’s partner, Joe Pike, knows more about this case than he has said. Pike lives in a world where dangerous men commit crimes beyond all reckoning. Now, one of those men is alive and well in L.A.—and calling Elvis Cole to war.

My Thoughts:

Be prepared for the darker tone we saw in the previous books. There is little for Elvis to wisecrack about; no one has brought him a case to strategically solve, instead he's vilified as the party responsible for the kidnap of Ben Chenier. Crais gives us strong dialogue and emotion, change ups in the story's point of view, some blind alleys and some down right insightful detective work. Layers of Elvis' past evolve, and, for the first time, we see Joe Pike as vulnerable and unsure. The writing is first rate, the action is nonstop, and there are many surprises...just what we have come to expect from Robert Crais. ( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
A fairly well-written book, except for the fact that the guilty party was easily guessed quite early on--and that was before it was revealed to the reader in a scene not witnessed by the characters in the book.
Cole's girlfriend's son is kidnapped and Cole, with Pike, races against time to try and figure out who dunnit. Because he is so intimately involved with the case other's try to shut him out, but he is determined to bring the little boy home.
( )
  quiBee | Jan 21, 2016 |
Very good compelling plot -- his main characters are well drawn. Even his villains seem fairly well fleshed out. Strong women characters too. I didn't like seeing Pike vulnerable but that was part of creating believable characters. More back story on Elvis as well. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 22, 2014 |
completed 10.11.14 cole and pike unravel kidnapping of son by his father; immoral mercenaries are the baddies ; good page turner ( )
  Papa51 | Oct 12, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345451902, Mass Market Paperback)

Don't start reading The Last Detective with much on your calendar. This tense, satisfying thriller will glue you to your chair, as private eye Elvis Cole--the star of eight previous Robert Crais novels, prior to the Cole-less Demolition Angel and Hostage--faces his toughest case: the abduction of his girlfriend's son, 10-year-old Ben Chenier, who was staying with Elvis when he was snatched.

Panic at Ben's disappearance turns to terror when the kidnapper phones to reveal his apparent motive, a dark secret from Elvis's past. But the plot thickens and twists, and then twists again, as Elvis and his longtime buddy, tough guy Joe Pike, race the clock against a group of villains as sinister as they are capable. The author mixes Elvis's first-person narration with third-person sections that describe other points of view--a risky technique, but Crais makes it work. He also does a fine job resurrecting the wisecracking Elvis of earlier books while imbuing him with a new depth and darkness.

This dazzlingly plotted, crisply told story is threaded with real detection (what a rarity!) and peopled by characters you can't help but care about--including Carol Starkey, the haunted bomb-squad cop from Demolition Angel, who's now a juvenile-abduction detective. Crais has long been getting better with each book, and The Last Detective continues the pattern. --Nicholas H. Allison

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:57 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

When the son of his long-time girlfriend, Lucy, goes missing, Elvis Cole finds himself encumbered by his personal demons, the dark secrets of his childhood, and long-suppressed memories of his service in Vietnam.

(summary from another edition)

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