Saturday, June 26, 2010


Some ordinary people are stronger than you could ever imagine.

The Monkey's Raincoat by Robert Crais is a well-heralded book. 

Elvis Cole and Joe Pike set off to find a kidnapped child.  The search leads them into the seaminess of the lower echelons of the LA. movie world.  It also leads them to an egomaniac millionaire retired bullfighter and to some strong people, people you would never expect to be as courageous as they are.

Get ready for a lot of violence.  Also, get ready to meet one of the most interesting sidekicks in all the mystery fiction I've read, Joe Pike. (In Pike's case, sidekick is a demeaning term.  I use it to denote a well-known character-type.)

I found this story incredibly sad.  Families break apart.  Many people follow shallow, destructive values.  

But the story drives you on, almost demands to be read, leads you to know, without ever saying it, that there will be a violent  and action-filled ending.

I hurt for the good people in this book, especially the children.  The book was that well written.  Those characters, along with Cole, Pike, and Cole's policeman friend, were real to me.

One of the main characters undergoes an amazing change.  I found myself rooting for her all the way.

This book is more violent than most mystery books I read.  But it was well worth reading.


Naomi Johnson said...

Ellen Lang is one of the more memorable women in crime fiction to me, because of her unrealized strength and her determination in the face of her fear. The scene where Pike puts "war paint" on her face is a favorite of mine.

Originally the author had Pike dying at the end of this book. So glad that decision was reversed!

Joe Barone said...

I thought Ellen showed something about what it means to be a mother. Children can make their mothers stronger. Their fathers too. (I know about that!)

For me, Pike is one of the most memorable characters ever.

I don't know how I missed this book along the way. I suspect I was just swamped with busyness at the time.

Richard R. said...

This was the first Crais book I red, and coming from Spenser I don't remember it as being especially violent, certainly not on a par with Red Harvest by Hammett. But that could just be old brain cells.