Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais

Is it just me or are the Cole/Pike books getting shorter and faster?

The latest from Crais in the Elvis Cole series is the fine Chasing Darkness, a tale that jostles the reader back and forth, all the while watching the L.A. skies turn from the tawny hues of fire season to the crystalline azure of the conclusion. The story is filled with false conclusions and suspects that we have come to expect in Cole’s work but with some easy-to-miss changes that allow him to emerge as more of a thinker; the unexpected tranquility of Pike for example, has he entered a Zen state where the arrows on his biceps no longer point to trouble?

image Cole is roused by the suicide of a murder suspect he previously helped to exonerate. The death itself was not personally jarring, the photo album of a serial murderer found at the feet of the corpse was. It held the carefully framed pictures of seven dying women, images only the killer could obtain from his immediate presence and one of which caused the law firm that had used Cole to provide the evidence of the suspects innocence to move him back into action. Now, in addition to the pounding in his head from the suspicion that he might have been wrong, he receives beating on his head from the family of a women killed later in the serial killer’s sequence.

Page turner barely describes the pace at which the investigation proceeds as Cole interacts with some old names in the LAPD and finds himself at odds with some new antagonists in the department and in L.A. city government. Your own detective skills will be put to the test as you begin to sort and dismiss  some suspects while being sure, as Elvis is occasionally, that you are on the right path to solving the mystery. Of course, you’ll be wrong but that’s half the fun in following Cole’s escapades.

Chasing Darkness is a solid entry in the Crais catalog and well worth the few hours of escape that it offers. Cole is as charming as usual and Pike, well, he’s Pike. The question I’m left with at the last page was why Carol Starkey was involved. We know she’s in love with Cole making her usual profane and clumsy come-on’s to him but what purpose does she serve in the story except to be the dues ex machina?

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