Saturday 10 September 2011

Robert Crais: The Monkey's Raincoat Review

"She went back into the kitchen. When she didn't come out for a while I went to see. She was standing with one hand on the counter and one hand atop her head. Her glasses were off and her chest was heaving and there was a puddle of tears on the tile counter by the glasses. Streamers of mucus ran down from her nose. All of that, but you couldn't hear her."

Ellen Lang has a problem: husband Mort has disappeared. Years of marriage to a "take charge kind of guy" have left her unable to balance a chequebook and she'll soon have much worse to cope with.

Mort, talent agent, has been playing away from home with a busty blonde starlet. He's also managed to get involved in the theft of some high grade coke from a very bad man, a cultured ex-bullfighter with Mafia connections. El senor wants his drugs back and expects Elvis Cole, the PI called in to find Mort, to retrieve the stash. To help things along he kidnaps the Langs' young son - Mort getting shot in the process. Cole and his enigmatic partner Joe Pike have to sort out the mess and avoid getting killed themselves.

Cole and Pike have some heavy military experience, enough to survive one battle with the bullfighter's forces, but the showdown is another matter - there's another battle and some well-done one-on-one scenes here (I use the word "scenes" as Robert Crais's television writing does guide the structure of this book - but it works well). Mrs Lang is drawn into the climax - difficult to make her role believeable but again Crais achieves it.

There's a neat side plot in the misdoings of the busty starlet and her wannabe thug boyfriend and a few good villains - always my favourite charactes - the bullfighter himself and his main thug, a very large Eskimo (this was written in 1980 - before Inuit became popular).

In summary: a very good first novel - Crais resists the urge to throw the kitchen sink in and has a clear idea of what he wants his characters to do. Quality stuff and boding well for future entries in the series.

Nice discount on a five book collection:


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