The above illustration, "Blowing Bubbles," has been adapted for use here by generous permission from the artist, Cyril Rolando.

July 4, 2008


If you've never read any of Crais's Elvis Cole books, I sincerely pity you. If you are already a fan, go get this book right now. Put simply, Crais is writing at the top of his game: Evocative prose, 3D characters, tight plot.

I dislike writing synopses; there's a fine line between a simple description of the plot and just giving away the story. To put it in a nutshell, Elvis must retrace a murder investigation he handled three years earlier. Elvis's work resulted in freeing a man who apparently went on to commit two more brutal murders. His confidence rattled, choking on guilt, Elvis does what he does better than anyone: Detect. And therein lies the story. Collecting pieces of the puzzle is almost more fun than solving the puzzle, and in CHASING DARKNESS Elvis Cole gives a master class in the fine art, as well as the science, of being a private detective.

Cole's friend and partner, Joe Pike, lends a hand as needed. Pike is one of those unusual characters where less is more, and Crais is well aware of that. If Pike even speaks a single line of dialogue it is to say more than any other character at hand. Just his physical presence carries an impact and alters the dynamics of any scene.

If you've not read Crais before, I don't recommend beginning with this book. Yes, the story does stand entirely on its own, but the fact is that as good as the characterization is here it will be all the richer if you go back and begin with earlier books in the series. And a book this good should certainly be given all the advantages.


  1. If you've not read Crais before, I don't recommend beginning with this book.

    Couldn't agree with you more, Corey, on this recommendation. Recently, I got a nurse friend of mine, hooked on RC. And she thanked me that I had her start at the beginning of the EC series.

    I found CD to be a very Chandleresque take on an Elvis Cole story-line. Thoughts?

  2. Yes, I agree, in some aspects CD is very Chandleresque. I remember just as I was finishing the book thinking that CD was almost old-fashioned (and I mean that in a good sense: good quality, traditional PI plot) in that the detective work was very real, very dogged. If Marlowe was on the case rather than Elvis, I think he would have trod the same steps, asked the same questions Elvis did.

    Also, in some places (but not so often that Crais could be accused of cheap imitation) Crais wrote in that darkly lyrical tone that colored so much of Chandler's work. Right at the beginning, when he describes the fires: "...sick desert wind carried the promise of Hell." And not hell, Hell. Just adding the cap adds impact. Is Crais smart or what?

    Crais is, I think, more subtle than Chandler; in fact sometimes he's so subtle I think some of his themes and characterizations escape folks who read just for Elvis's humor and Joe's, um, skills. I particularly thinks that's true of The Watchman.

    In CD, the scene where Elvis first goes to Alan Levy's house and finds no one there, I thought the writing was amazing. Everything is described as so neat, so orderly, nothing out of place, And out of that Crais created what was, to me, an absolute nightmare. Made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The subtlety is that he leaves it to the reader, not to Elvis, to imagine what happened to the pretty wife and child. But that Elvis RUNS from the house said so much, it echoed my horror. I don't think Chandler's handling of that same scene would have been nearly as subtle, I think Marlowe would have told us his conclusions and been a little detached in so doing.

    How about you? In what ways did you find CD Chandleresque?

  3. My apologies for responding so late. I've answered your question here, Corey. Thanks for understanding.