Saturday, May 20, 2023

Book Review: The Monkey's Raincoat

Meet Elvis Cole, L.A. Private Eye. . . . He quotes Jiminy Cricket and carries a .38. He's a literate, wisecracking Vietnam vet who is determined to never grow up.

When quiet Ellen Lang enters Elvis Cole's Disney-Deco office, she's lost something very valuable--her husband and her young son. The case seems simple enough, but Elvis isn't thrilled. Neither is his enigmatic partner and firepower, Joe Pike. Their search down the seamy side of Hollywood's studio lots and sculptured lawns soon leads them deep into a nasty netherworld of drugs, sex--and murder. Now the case is getting interesting, but it's also turned ugly. Because everybody, from cops to starlets to crooks, has declared war on Ellen and Elvis. For Ellen, it isn't Funtown anymore. For Elvis, it's just a living . . . He hopes.

The Monkey's Raincoat is the first in a series of nineteen (to date) novels by Robert Crais. It was first published in July of 1987 by Bantam books. Ballantine Books released a mass-market paperback in 2019.

The mystery book club I moderate at our library will be discussing this title in July. This was one of my choices. The lure of the 80's and Los Angeles/Hollywood was a strong factor in my choice. It sounded like it could be interesting.

Crais is going for a particular vibe here. The narrator, Elvis Cole, hides his caring side behind his snarky, tough guy approach. It is definitely an 80's take on the classic 40's private-eye with a bit more language, sex and violence thrown in. If it were a movie, it would get a solid R-rating. Still, it all works for me when I put it into the context of when it was first released.

This was a very straight forward, action-filled tale about drugs, criminals, and killing. It is also has some great character moments about truth and growth. I think the book discussion group will have quite a bit to talk about for the hour come July. This series just might end up on my to-read list for the future.

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