L.A.’s Finest: Michael Connelly & Robert Crais Write Crime
It was like LA Christmas in London December this year, as a new Elvis Cole and Joe Pike novel from Robert Crais was followed by Michael Connelly’s latest Harry Bosch and Renee Ballard book. Cole and Pike first appeared in 1987’s Monkey’s Raincoat; Bosch debuted in The Black Echo (1992). I have been with both writers from the start; I believe my Spectator review of Connelly’s 1997 Trunk Music may have been his first in the UK. That’s more than three decades of quality crime fiction from two writers who’ve expanded the limits of the series detective format, adding characters, branching into stand-alones, and milking the City of Angels as if it were their most precious creation. And, as this latest pair of novels proves, have never gotten stale, even as they approach the ongoing problem of the series in different ways.
Racing The Light is Robert Crais’ first novel since 2019’s A Dangerous Man. There’s no mention in the book of a pandemic hiatus, though it was entertaining to think of Elvis and his cat sitting out lockdown, with or without Pike: whether they might drive each other crazy or whether maybe each on his own would do just fine. Certainly there are few characters in crime fiction more self-contained than Joe Pike.
Regardless of Covid speculation, Racing The Light opens with Adele Schumacher’s bodyguards entering Elvis’ office, followed by Adele herself, a mother whose son is missing and she wants him found. Her son, Josh Shoe, as he bills himself on his In Your Face podcast, fancies himself an investigative journalist, and he’s keen on uncovering government secrets, one of which, as it turns out, might be what he parents actually did (or do) for said government. But there’s more to it than that, including a source who’s both a high-priced escort and a modern painter who includes text messages in her canvases, and some other hard-ass characters who seem to be on the same trail as Elvis. Throw in Chinese business and classic Los Angeles corruption and you have a frothy mix to mark Elvis and Joe’s return.
At the same time, Elvis’ true love, Lucy Chanier, has come from Louisiana with her son to visit; it’s the violence of Elvis’ world, including an old case where her ex-husband and her son were involved brutally, that has kept her away from Elvis all these years, and…