CHASING DARKNESS by Robert Crais (First published by Orion Books, 2008)
This is the first Robert Crais book I’ve read and to put this into true context I have a fair amount of catching to do. This is number 11 in an ongoing series of novels featuring a LA based private detective Elvis Cole and his reliable yet taciturn sidekick Joe Pike. There are already another five in the series.
Cole is the kind of maverick investigator who will say things like ‘I suppose I should’ve called the cops but I didn’t’. The implicit message is that to get results you need to take risks and ignore conventional methods.
He has enough inside contacts to enjoy the benefits of official resources without the burden of having to play by the rules. When Pike breaks into the home of a suspect, Cole says reassuringly. “Don’t worry. It’s a cop thing” .
What normally goes with this genre is a casual misogyny but Cole is a man who operates on a higher level. He has natural style, a sharp wit and, above all, shows respect for women, sympathy for underdogs and a healthy cynicism towards standard police procedures.
Chasing Darkness is a tightly plotted thriller with plenty of twists to keep you hooked and lots of snappy dialogue to keep you entertained. Crais has written a fair amount for TV but knows the difference between a screenplay and a novel. He doesn’t want any of his Cole & Pike books turned into movies because he wants his readers to use their imagination as to what these two anti-heroes look like.
As non-caped crusaders they uncover a fair quantity of violent crime and shady dealings but the gallows humor together with a rich vein of righteous humanity ensures that you finish the novel believing that even in the depths of darkness, good guys do win sometimes.