Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Monkey's Raincoat by Robert Crais

Title: The Monkey's Raincoat
Author: Robert Crais
ISBN: 0553275852, Bantam Books, 1992
Genre: Private Investigator, #1 Elvis Cole mystery
Rating: A

First Line: "I'm sorry, Mr. Cole, this has nothing to do with you."

Several years ago people began mentioning Elvis Cole to me. Hmm...my last name, my mother's favorite singer.... I duly filed away the information. The people doing the mentioning probably thought I'd blown them off, to which I would reply: Just because I don't lay rubber the second you mention an author I might like doesn't mean I'm not paying attention. Sometimes I think part of my brain is an aquifer; it takes time for some of these authors to percolate down to the Do Something Level. I finally reached the Do Something Level with Elvis Cole, and now I've got a big smile on my face knowing what I've got in store for me.

Elvis Cole is a private investigator with a shadowy partner, Joe Pike. Joe isn't around all that much, which suits most people just fine. Let's face it-- the man scares people to death, and according to Elvis, "Pike thinks Clint Eastwood talks too much." Elvis has a life that suits him just fine. A Vietnam vet, his hero is Peter Pan, and he thinks very highly of Jiminy Cricket. (So do I. Jiminy taught me how to spell encyclopedia.) I also have to admit that the Pinocchio clock he has on his office wall fascinates me. Peter Pan...Jiminy Cricket...Pinocchio...when Ellen Lang walked into his office to hire him to find her missing husband and son, I knew that I was about to embark on a rather unusual investigation. I was led to a viper's den of criminals, drugs and sex, but I feared not, for Cole and Pike were with me.

By the time I finished, I had some new friends in Elvis and Joe. (I have a healthy respect for Joe, but he doesn't scare me. Yet.) The investigation itself isn't all that complex or unusual, but it moves quickly and taught me to pay attention to small clues and subtle nuances. The real reason why this book is such a standout rests squarely on the shoulders of Elvis Cole. It's as though, once he made it out of Vietnam in one piece and decided he wanted to be Peter Pan, his decision stripped away several layers of adult apathy and cynicism. This man can eat ice cream, watch an obnoxious customer torment the counter girl...and be incapable of pretending it isn't happening. When Mr. Obnoxious is persuaded to leave, Elvis leaves his business card with the girl. "
If anyone ever bothers you...let me know."

And that's the strength of Elvis Cole--he cares. If that's what happens when a person decides to be Peter Pan, I say we should all start flapping our arms and taking flying lessons. In
The Monkey's Raincoat, Robert Crais has set his stage with two superb characters in Cole and Pike, and I just happen to have Acts Two (Stalking the Angel) and Three (Lullaby Town) waiting in the wings.

Now if I could only find myself one of those Pinocchio clocks....

[A word of warning: anyone who has a low tolerance of violence may want to pass on this series.]


  1. Elvis Cole? It sounds like it was meant to be for you. I can read about violence like that just fine, but I could never watch it.

  2. Kathy--Sometimes I have a more difficult time reading violent scenes than watching them. My mind can supply too many details that the filmmakers actually leave out!

  3. I've heard great things about this series but your post has made me want to check the library for availability.

  4. I've read the first two in this series and enjoyed them. I love Elvis' wisecracking ways and Joe intrigues, but does not scare me either.

  5. I've heard about the Elvis Cole series but up until now, I didn't really have the books in my sights. Now I'm definitely going to have to check them out. I loved the Clint Eastwood talks too much line.

  6. Reading your post was just plain FUN. I love the way you write about the books you read. Makes me want to run out and get them. And, the Jiminy Cricket video was icing on the cake. Thanks.

  7. Cathy, you've hooked me! I must seek the books out. I think it's that irresistible combination of quirky and compassionate - qualities I admire in myself but alas my logic usually represses them!

  8. Funny coincidence. The Hubster finished his book last night and picked The Monkey's Raincoat off the shelf to read next :-)

  9. It's funny but I agree about how books finally end up on our nightstands. I get lots of recommendations from friends and it's not that I don't want to read the books but I'm a moody reader so things have to end up on my nightstand at just the right time :)

    I've not read any of the Elvis Cole books but I have heard lots of good things about them. Glad you enjoyed the first one in the series!

  10. So glad you enjoyed this one. I'm a fan and can tell you that his later books are just as good!

  11. Beth--Glad I could be of service. ;)

    Suzi--I'm glad Joe doesn't scare you either! Interesting coincidence with your husband, indeed!

    Belle--There are several good lines in that book. :)

    Margot--Your comment just plain tickles me to death. I'm glad you enjoy my reviews. I was hoping that someone would appreciate the Jiminy clip at the end!

    Iliana--You pretty much summed me up as well: Moody Reader!

    Terri--That's fantastic news. Thanks!


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