More than 10 years ago, I was shocked to learn that some puerile piece of fluff had won the Edgar for Best Paperback Original, when it was so obvious to me and virtually everyone else in the Western Hemisphere that the award should have gone to The Monkey's Raincoat, the book that introduced Elvis Cole, private eye, and is to this day one of the funniest books I've ever read.
The terrific Elvis Cole series has grown through the years, each book better than the last, but nothing prepared me for the quantum leap (yes, it's a cliché, but it belongs here) that Crais has made with L.A. Requiem. It's not as funny as the other books in the series, but it's a beautifully plotted detective story, rich with police procedure, and it will keep even the most sophisticated reader at sea right until the end. And that's what elevates this book to the level of literature.
This one is more about Joe Pike, Elvis's silent sidekick, than it is about Elvis. We learn, through Pike's own eyes, how his childhood made him the way he is today. It's also about a friendship so strong that it threatens Elvis's relationship with his beloved Lucy. It is a tender but dark book--a serial killer book--but it doesn't attempt to outgross the other serial killer books on the shelf. It is funny at times and chilling at other times, making it one of the rare books that can't help but linger in the memory long after it's been read and put away. --Otto Penzler [via]