Friday, May 20, 2011

Sunset Express – Robert Crais

I’m back to the Vintage Crime with Sunset Express by Robert Crais. Originally published in 1996, this novel takes place in Los Angeles. Elvis Cole really shines when he is in L.A. Robert Crais effortlessly talks about the geography of L.A. It really makes you want to get a map out and start tracing Cole’s steps around the city.

The story starts out with a body found on the side of the hill near an upscale neighborhood in L.A. It turns out the woman is the wife of a wealthy restaurateur in L.A. named Teddy Martin. The detectives go to the husband’s house, where he claims that his wife was kidnapped and he was getting ready to pay the ransom. Turns out one of the detectives finds a bloody hammer in the bushes that ends up being the murder weapon. The only problem is that the detective has a slightly checkered past, including forgetting to read a murder suspect their rights and was once accused of planting evidence on a person to further career.

Teddy Martin goes on to hire a big time lawyer named Green. Elvis Cole gets involved in the case, when Green hires him to track down some leads that came in via a tip line. Elvis tracks down evidence that exculpates Teddy Martin and becomes famous in the process. It turns out everything is not as it seems, and it starts to look like the lawyer may have planted the evidence that Elvis finds. All of this is happening while Elvis’ girlfriend from Louisiana is in town with her son. There is a constant pull between him working and wanting to hang out with them.

The plot of this novel is actually kind of telegraphed, but the writing is so witty you still want to read it. This is classic, witty Elvis Cole. There is a lot of political back and forth between the DA’s office, the police force, the lawyer, and Elvis. Joe Pike plays a minor role in the novel, but not as much as many of the other Elvis Cole novels.

I’m currently reading the Nick Heller short story “Plan B,” and don’t know what I’m going to read after that!

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