For The Last Detective Robert Crais fields something of a crime busting dream team; his regular duo, private detective Elvis Cole and enigmatic partner Joe Pike, hook up with Carol Starkey, the feisty, chain-smoking heroine of Demolition Angel in a tautly plotted kidnapping caper.
Crais has always spiced his elaborate LA procedurals with the gamier elements from action thrillers and this book, which pits his gumshoes against a gang of vicious mercenaries as well as the intractable red tape of policing law, is no exception. The drama kicks off when Ben Chenier, Cole's girlfriend Lucy's ten-year-old son, is abducted with military precision from outside Elvis' own home. Stunned by the kidnappers' audacity, Cole receives an even bigger shock when the gang phone. There is no ransom demand; instead the caller reminds him of a horrific incident from his past. As a Ranger in Vietnam, Cole's unit, number Five-Two, had come under heavy attack. Only he had survived the assault. Now more than 20 years later, the kidnappers accuse Cole of murdering his colleagues and maintain that Ben has been taken in retribution. Could the snatcher be a bitter relative with a grudge or perhaps, a disgruntled old army buddy out for vengeance?
Elvis and Pike, along with renegade LAPD cop Carole Starkey, start to hunt for Ben. Meticulously tracking leads and drawing on their military know how they start to build up a profile of their prey. While they make headway Cole is still left feeling "as if each piece of the picture was from a different puzzle and no matter how hard" he tries "to arrange them it made no sense". Their efforts are further hampered by Ben's father, Richard. Richard has always despised Cole and accompanied by Myers, his personal investigator, he begins stirring up trouble for Elvis with Lucy and with the authorities. But when Cole's researches start paying off, things in this page-turner become far, far murkier. --Travis Elborough [via]