About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"C" is for Robert Crais

In looking at “C” surnamed authors for this week’s contribution to the 2012 Alphabet in Crime Fiction meme hosted by Kerrie Smith at Mysteries in Paradise I had 22 different choices. Either “C” is a popular first letter surname of mystery authors or I may be unconsciously selecting “C” authors. After going through the list I selected Robert Crais. Of my “C” options my favourite authors are Crais and Michael Connelly. Having recently written about Harry Bosch I chose Crais.

He was born in Louisiana in 1953. Goodreads states:

He purchased a secondhand paperback of Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister when he was fifteen, which inspired his lifelong love of writing, Los Angeles, and the literature of crime fiction. Other literary influences include Dashiell Hammett, Ernest Hemingway, Robert B. Parker, and John Steinbeck.

In his family he had 3 uncles and 2 cousins who were police officers.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1976. He found work writing scripts for such T.V. series as Hill Street Blues, Cagney and Lacey and Miami Vice. He received an Emmy nomination for work on Hill Street Blues.

He turned to writing mysteries in the 1980’s. After his father’s death he created Elvis Cole who debuted in The Monkey’s Raincoat. The book was an immediate success being an Anthony Award winner, a Macavity Award winner, an Edgar Award nominee and a Shamus Award nominee.

Books have flowed steadily during the last 27 years with 15 books in the Elvis Cole / Joe Pike series and 3 additional books.

Crais has stated that he writes with the intention that readers do not have to start at the beginning to enjoy the series. He wants readers to be able to jump into the Elvis and Joe series in any order.

His website says in lives with his wife, 3 cats and thousands of books. He is obviously a book lover as well as a book writer.

I have read 13 of the 18 books written by Crais.

In the Elvis / Joe series I noted from the start in The Monkey’s Raincoat the vast differences in personalities between Elvis and Joe. Elvis has always been light hearted cracking jokes and making clever comments. Joe has been sinister from the beginning. I noted in my review of the book a quote from Joe that sent a chill up my spine:

“He won’t know what happened, Elvis. No one will. Ever. They’re gone. It’s like they never were.”

As the series developed I have not enjoyed as much the books featuring Joe. His taciturn nature and constant use of violence to solve issues have discouraged me. After a couple of year break I am going back to reading the series later this year.

My favourite Crais book is Demolition Angel. I devoured that book. Carol Starkey on the L.A. bomb squad was a great character in a genuine thriller mystery. It won Bill’s Best of Fiction for 2001.


  1. A very fitting C. I really like Robert Crais's books and like the way he has written some non-series novels & gradually worked some of the characters in, as well as the way he's branched out with Joe Pike. I think a couple of the later novels have not been as good as many of the earlier ones, but I liked his most recent, Taken, very much.

  2. Bill - Oh, I like Robert Crais' work. :-) Like you I must admit I prefer Cole to Pike as the "lead" character. But that said, Pike is a fascinating "mystery man" and he does add to the novels. I also appreciate the way Crais ties the novels together without making it necessary that readers should start at the first. That takes talent.

  3. As usual, I haven't read this writer. I sadly don't venture into American mysteries as much as I should. My loss.

  4. Maxine: Thanks for the comment. Crais has managed a freshness to his books not common for authors approaching 20 books.

  5. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I like Joe just fine as a supporting character. Sometimes the supporter is not well suited to moving up to the lead role.

  6. Clarissa: Reading the Elvis Cole / Joe Pike books is fun. They flow smoothly with clever comments from Elvis dotting the stories.

  7. I have read the first two Elvis Cole novels and enjoyed them both. I had forgotten that the series was first published in 1987. Seems so recent. Since Demolition Angel is a stand-alone I will seek it out soon.

  8. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. If you start reading Demolition Angel at evening be prepared to stay reading long into the night.

  9. Well, that settles that, thanks Bill - I have LA REQUIEM on the shelves as well as a collection of the first 3 Elvis Cole books so it is clearly about time I took the plunge.


  10. Sergio: Thanks for the comment. The plunge will be refreshing. Crais has the wonderful ability to draw you swiftly along in a mystery.