Krista Morales might be an honor student, but she is a bit of a dumbo really. First she heads out into the desert night with her loser boyfriend, then she whips out her camera phone to take pictures of heavily armed human traffickers on a murder rampage. Presto, Krista and the loser get kidnapped and that means TROU-BLE!
Taken, is the latest read by Crimezine neighbor Robert Crais, The keep the noise down king of Mulholland Drive, is currently riding high of the Bestseller Charts and rightly so.
This is Bonzo Bob’s fifteenth Cole and Pike book—that is a lotta sequel’s Crimeziners—can you imagine Pirates of the Caribbean 15—would you want to? Quite. Crais is to be commended for bravely moving the franchise forward, in a variety of innovative ways. The recent Joe Pike books First Rule and The Watchmen are good examples of this steadfast refusal by Crais to stay safe and formulaic.
Kudos too for this well researched commentary on human trafficking on the US/Mexico border, a world that is so relentlessly vile and gruesome it is almost impossible to describe without inducing a protracted bout of nausea.
Crais has noticeably tightened up on his writing style with this book, using shorter snappier sentences, and other devices such as a non-sequential plotline and multi-character viewpoints. Such experimentation is to be commended. Trouble is readers are fickle and possessive—they get upset when a winning formula evolves and the Cole & Pike saga is starting to feel that burn.
Crimezine has commented before that Elvis Cole is losing much of the wisecracking charm that made him so appealing in the classic Cole & Pike novels, this morose trend continues with Taken, a frustration for many regular readers. But Crimezine suspects this is a serious effort by America’s Greatest Detective Writer [© Crimezine] to give Elvis Cole more gravitas, which is to be commended, as other crime writers, have gone the opposite extreme, and mired their characters with mad-cappery, which can be both tiresome and distracting.
There are always risks with such a forward thinking attitude however. Many readers do not want their favorite characters to evolve—The Craisie faithful are fervently loyal and quickly riled. You better not mess with the Craises Bob—no-siree! Crimezine often has to venture outside our Mulholland Drive HQ with a big stick during Craisy season, a time when busloads of Bob’s adoring fans clog the street for months on end, with gratuitous acts of fandom and brassiere tossing lustiness. Crimezine suspects Craisies will eat this book up—but their appetite is voracious, will Bob be able to feed that hunger indefinitely?
Crimezine loves this book, and you will too. Robert Crais is an awesome writer. We would suggest however that the next Elvis Cole novel is a back to basics classic. Perhaps Bob could hammer out his creative frustrations on some new stand alone novels, like he did with Hostage and Demolition Angel. We would love, love, love that! No doubt Hollyweird would too.
Still, back to the haddock brained Krista Morales. Her mom Nita is thankfully smart enough to send Elvis on a rescue mission, but wouldn’t you know it, our favorite private eye ends up getting kidnapped too, Duh! Thankfully Joe Pike and Delta Force chum Jon Stone are on the case too, so we get a story that is a true fifty-fifty split between Cole and Pike, which leads to the kind of gruesome action we know and love. Get your mirrored shades on Crimeziners! Yayyyyy!