I wanted a good read, but was disappointed….. **
We get Chinese take-out every Friday and last night the food was not up to the usual standard. My wife said, “I guess every one misses the mark sometimes.” Robert Crais, who I usually enjoy, missed the mark on this one.
The story is weak and some of the events are unbelievable. When the mother gets her son back only to let him go out for frozen yogurt and goes missing again, being one of the first. Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are not as compelling as in Crais’s other novels. Cole makes dumb mistakes, and Pike is mostly MIA.
The bad guys, named Stemms and Harvey, are the most exciting part of the book. Yet, their back story, which is awkwardly placed, is hard to swallow. They reminded me of John Connolly’s characters, Louis and Angel, only not as compelling.
The ending felt rushed and certain threads just fell to the wayside. I won’t spoil it by mentioning them. After reading the last page, I turned to my wife and said, “Well, that was boring.”
This one gets two stars.
A promise kept….. ****
Unlike recent novels by Child, Connelly, or Kellerman, Robert Crais has avoided using a template to cookie cut out a new story. Instead, we have familiar characters involved in a completely different type of story.
The ever threatening and quiet Joe Pike is here, along with the determined Elvis Cole. But Crais has allowed Pike to float in the background and Elvis never finds himself in a predicament as in most of the previous novels.
The plot revolves around the potential threat of terrorists who may be getting their hands on high explosives. Rather than limiting this to an action story, Crais also develops this into a character study. The addition of Scott James and his K-9 Maggie amplify this as Scott struggles to do what he knows is right, yet contradictory to orders from his superiors.
Jon Stone, as the stealth warrior, moves from someone we should fear to a more complex man that not only has a heart, but one who can bring justice to a seemingly impossible situation.
The weak spot is in the evil Mr. Rollins. A villain who plans very methodically, seems to know when to bail, yet in the end does a rather stupid thing. Too often in these kinds of stories this is the case, otherwise our main heroes would not survive.
Crais has given us a good read, a different type of story, and after a long wait for this book to come out, I would say he has kept his promise.
This one gets four stars.
I Think Robert Forgot To Include The Story ***
There seems to be a trend among authors of series recently to produce a book that is weak in story line. Lee Child did this in “Worth Dying For”, Michael Connelly did it in “The Reversal”, and now one of my favorite authors has followed suit.
As a fan of Pike, I would expect more than reading about him driving his Jeep from place to place and watching for the bad guys. This book is light on plot, character development, and ending. Like James Patterson’s “Cross Fire”, the final showdown between Pike and Daniel doesn’t live up to what we would have expected. Daniel is able to kill Columbian drug muscle with ease yet puts himself in an amatuerish situation when finally confronting Pike.
Let’s hope all these authors come back from their “rest” with renewed commitment to writing a page turner.
Taken For Granted ****
Having read all of his books to date, I will say this isn’t Crais’ best or worst. The reader knows going in that the two main characters, Cole and Pike, are going to be okay and that they will find the people they are looking for. But it is the story of how that makes this a good read. The subject of human trafficking is a sad one and this is a decent expose of it.
Some reviewers did not like the multiple points of view and the changing time line, after watching three seasons of “Damages”, I had no problem with either of those. To expect every book of a series to be a knockout is probably a little unrealistic but as many have said we know Robert can do better.