The Wanted by Robert Crais – It has been a few years since I read an Elvis Cole and Joe Pike mystery. I had loved the early books in the series but found later books unabsorbing. The humour had diminished to insignificance while the violence quotient had grown in equal proportion to the decrease in humour. The series had lost its sparkle for me.
Still Elvis held a place in my reading heart. When I saw The Wanted in the shipboard library I decided to try the series again.
Elvis is retained by Devon Connor, a single mother and the office manager of a modest law firm, to find out why her teenage son, Tyson, suddenly has thousands of dollars and a genuine Rolex watch. She can think of no good reason for his sudden affluence. Elvis concurs and swiftly determines Tyson has even more money than his mother suspected.
A search of Tyson’s car turns up a pair of women’s Gucci sun glasses.
Later that morning, using sources in the insurance business Elvis learns that the watch was stolen from a wealthy family. It was taken in a burglary committed by two men and a woman.
LAPD has put together a task force to find them as they have successful committed 18 burglaries of the well to do and well connected of Los Angeles.
In a recent robbery a security camera captured an image of part of the face of one of the burglars. It is Tyson.
What has kept them free despite leaving fingerprints and other evidence is that the burglars have never been charged with any criminal offences.
Elvis, known in past books as The World’s Greatest Detective, is able to report to Devon within the day that he has solved the case and has a plan to minimize the consequences for Tyson.
What he does not know is that a pair of unscrupulous, actually evil, investigators Stemms and Harvey are pursuing the young thieves for an item stolen during one of the burglaries. To conceal their investigation they are willing to kill witnesses once they have provided information. What was taken by a trio of amateur thieves that could be so important?
When Tyson learns of the plan assembled by Elvis he bolts from his home.
Who will find Tyson and his fellow burglars first – Elvis or the wicked Stems and Harvey.
There is some effort to develop Stemms and Harvey as characters. They share banter and there is a striking scene involving music in a Mexican bar but in the end they are barely two dimensional characters. They could have been more formidable characters with a touch less violence and considerably more character development. Bad guys can be multi-dimensional.
The plot proceeds swiftly and logically to its inevitable brutal ending. While there was a twist in the conclusion I regret to say the sparkle was not back. There is the occasional quip or witty comment but they are modest in number. Crais has the inherent ability to draw a reader effortlessly through the plot and I read the book swiftly. In the end I found it an average book and I doubt I shall return to the series.
****Crais, Robert – (2001) - Demolition Angel (Best fiction of 2001); (2001) – Hostage; (2003) - The Last Detective; (2004) - Indigo Slam; (2005) - The Monkey’s Raincoat; (2005) - Stalking the Angel; (2005) - L.A. Requiem; (2005) - Voodoo River; (2006) The Forgotten Man; (2006) - The Two Minute Rule; (2007) - The Watchman; (2008) - Chasing Darkness; (2010) - The First Rule; (2012) - "C" is for Robert Crais; (2012) - Taken; Hardcover