In the eighth novel featuring Elvis Cole, Robert Crais breaks new ground by exploring the background and character of Cole’s partner, Joe Pike. Pike is an ex-Marine, an ex-cop, and a strong, silent force of nature. When an old friend of his asks Pike to investigate his daughter’s murder, Cole joins him. The case leads Cole and Pike into conflict with the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI, and eventually onto the trail of a serial murderer. The danger to the partners, which comes from some unexpected sources, grows as they uncover the pattern that connects the murders. Cole’s involvement in the case also threatens his relationship with Lucy Chenier, who has moved to California from her native Louisiana for a high profile job and the chance to be with Cole.
In L.A. Requiem Crais maintains the strengths of the Elvis Cole series: fast pacing, sharp dialogue, and finely drawn main characters. If there is a weakness in this outing, it is the thinness of Lucy Chenier’s role. She makes a very brief appearance, and spends most of her time objecting to Elvis’ involvement with Joe Pike and the murder investigation.
The novel’s strength is in its focus on Joe Pike. Through a series of flashbacks, readers see Pike’s formative experiences, and learn more about him than in any of the previous novels. He is an intriguing character, and his interplay with Cole gives the series its distinctive flavor. In that way Pike plays a role similar to that of the sidekick character of Hawk in Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series—a laconic, charismatic figure whose latent violent energy meshes well with the witty, articulate lead character. Readers who enjoy Parker’s Spenser books will enjoy L.A. Requiem and the previous Elvis Cole novels as well.