Monday, December 02, 2013

“The Monkey’s Raincoat” by Robert Crais – Out of the Frying Pan…

The Monkey’s Raincoat by Robert Crais (book cover)
The Monkey’s Raincoat by Robert Crais is one of those mystery detective novels that grabs you from the first paragraph and tries to never let you go until the end, and in my opinion, it surely succeeds in that aspect. It starts off as we are introduced to the hard-boiled war veteran, Elvis Cole, who decided to turn to private investigating as a way to make ends meet. However, he isn’t the average sleuth as the wise-cracking detective could give some of literature’s most well-known private dicks a run for their money. Anyhow, he soon gets embroiled in a missing person case as a woman by the name of Helen Lang hires him to find her husband, Mort, and his son.

However, quite soon Elvis finds himself caught in something much worse than he had originally anticipated, finding Mort murdered and his son nowhere to be found. To make matters even worse, his client, Ellen Lang, has gone missing as well, further tightening to noose of mystery around Elvis’ neck. The first thing you will notice about this novel is Elvis’ eccentricity, as he basically lives in his office stuffed with Disney memorabilia, along with an invisible partner who seems to have a bit too much say in how affairs develop. He makes for a very curious character who certainly has a whole other realm to him besides his professional one.

As a matter of fact, I was a tad disappointed that we didn’t get more insight into the character than we did, but I do understand it would have been to the detriment of the story, and hopefully it’s something that can be done in future works… but I digress from the topic. The other characters around him are quite vivid and unique in their own ways, though I will admit that a few of them were disappointingly stereotypical, but I guess that in a genre such as this one, they are very hard to do without.

As far as the main course goes, the actual mystery case, I have to say that while I didn’t expect much of it at first, it started to grow on me at a very steady pace as the story progressed. The tension keeps on mounting as new evidence is uncovered, leading to a rather climactic finale where all is revealed, but I can’t really say any more than that.

Though it may be a bit hard for those who aren’t used to detective novels, the reader here gets a pretty fair chance at figuring out the whole thing before the main character, something detective novels are lacking these days. The plot isn’t too complex to follow, nor is it too simple to be figured out in the snap of your fingers; it will drag you along and force you to turn the pages without making you wonder what in God’s name you’ve just read.

All things considered, The Monkey’s Raincoat may have some flaws here and there (what book doesn’t?), but the sum of its parts turns it into a very solid and fulfilling detective mystery that knows how to cater to the reader. If you’ve been longing to read a good mystery lately, I would definitely recommend you check this book out.

Robert Crais (June 23, 1953)

Robert Crais

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Robert Crais is an American author who has virtually always stuck to detective novels, which can be explained by the fact that he started his career by writing scripts for numerous television shows, including Miami Vice and L.A. Law. His more prominent works include The Monkey’s Raincoat and The Two-Minute Rule.

More of the Robert Crais's book reviews:
The Promise
The Two Minute Rule

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