Robert Crais – “Chasing Darkness”

A hard-working detective procedural with a nifty set-up, “Chasing Darkness” doesn’t push any stylistic boundaries or shatter the barriers of the genre.

Rather, it respects them, cherishes them.

This is power-packed with plot, hard work and clue finding. Detective Elvis Cole is at the wheel and partner Joe Pike is riding the figurative shotgun seat.

The story gets a jump start with the discovery of a body in a house that’s part of a neighborhood being evacuated due to wildfires. The body is that of one Lionel Byrd, who Elvis Cole helped exonerate, three years earlier, from charges he had murdered a young prostitute. Byrd’s body is found with a photo album in his lap—a photo album full of grizzly photographs—that make it look as if Cole helped clear a man who should have been convicted.

The strength of “Chasing Darkness” is in the intricate—but easy to follow—plot.  That’s always a delicate balance, in my mind: putting enough players on the stage to make it interesting but not getting overly complicated, either. This allows Crais to pop a nice surprise on readers at the end and it’s a beauty.

Cole works hard and nothing comes easy (always a good combination) as Cole pursues matters deep into the heart of politics and power. “Chasing Darkness” is missing some of Cole’s earlier snappy attitude and the story is told with a dry, straightforward style.

To me, it’s as if Crais just wanted to step out of the way and let Elvis and Joe take over.  And they do.

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