P.I. Elvis Cole’s relationship with attorney Lucy Chenier is strained. Then the unthinkable happens. While Lucy is away on business and her ten-year-old son Ben is staying with Elvis, the boy vanishes without a trace. When the kidnappers call, it’s not for ransom, but for a promise to punish Cole for past sins he claims he didn’t commit. With the LAPD wrestling over the case, and the boy’s estranged father attempting to take control of the investigation, Cole vows to find Ben first. But Cole’s partner, Joe Pike, knows more about this case than he has said. Pike lives in a world where dangerous men commit crimes beyond all reckoning. Now, one of those men is alive and well in L.A.—and calling Elvis Cole to war. . . .
Don't start reading The Last Detective with much on your calendar. This tense, satisfying thriller will glue you to your chair, as private eye Elvis Cole--the star of eight previous Robert Crais novels, prior to the Cole-less Demolition Angel and Hostage--faces his toughest case: the abduction of his girlfriend's son, 10-year-old Ben Chenier, who was staying with Elvis when he was snatched.
Panic at Ben's disappearance turns to terror when the kidnapper phones to reveal his apparent motive, a dark secret from Elvis's past. But the plot thickens and twists, and then twists again, as Elvis and his longtime buddy, tough guy Joe Pike, race the clock against a group of villains as sinister as they are capable. The author mixes Elvis's first-person narration with third-person sections that describe other points of view--a risky technique, but Crais makes it work. He also does a fine job resurrecting the wisecracking Elvis of earlier books while imbuing him with a new depth and darkness.
This dazzlingly plotted, crisply told story is threaded with real detection (what a rarity!) and peopled by characters you can't help but care about--including Carol Starkey, the haunted bomb-squad cop from Demolition Angel, who's now a juvenile-abduction detective. Crais has long been getting better with each book, and The Last Detective continues the pattern. --Nicholas H. Allison