Review

Chasing Darkness: An Elvis Cole Novel

by Robert Crais

An
invalid named Lionel Byrd is found dead in his LA apartment, the
apparent victim of a suicide. What makes this tragedy front-page
news is the discovery of a "murder book" at the feet of Byrd's
body. This photo album contains explicit pictures of seven
different women, all of whom have been brutally murdered over a
seven-year period. 


Private detective Elvis Cole takes particular notice of the suicide
because he helped clear Byrd of murder charges a few years ago. It
now turns out that the woman he was accused of killing at the time
is the fifth of the seven victims featured in the album. Cole is
torn up on how this could have happened since he was absolutely
positive that Byrd was not responsible for the murder of Yvonne
Bennett. Moreover, he must now deal with an angry bunch of LAPD
investigators who view him almost as an accomplice to Byrd's
atrocities. Even worse is the fact that Cole is also being harassed
by the family of one of the women allegedly murdered by Byrd after
his exoneration. Can Cole --- with the assistance of partner Joe
Pike --- safely conduct his own investigation to reveal the truth
surrounding the killing spree?


The fact that Byrd was house-bound due to a serious foot injury ---
as well as being addicted to oxycodone --- seems to have been
overlooked by the LAPD investigators and Deputy Chief Marx, all of
whom are looking for a slam-dunk closure to the case. Cole has his
office vandalized, receives many harassing phone calls and is
involved in a physical altercation with the brothers of victim
Debra Repko. When his own investigation finds that a major
political figure --- Councilman Wilts --- might be involved in the
case, he realizes he has quite an uphill battle on his hands.


Cole never doubts his instincts and is confident that Byrd could
not have committed any of these murders, let alone be a serial
killer. To prove that Byrd was set up as a fall guy, Cole must
cross several legal and ethical lines, and has to battle his
personal guilt over the deaths of the two women following the Byrd
trial. He appeals to the family of Debra Repko and reluctantly gets
them to allow him to proceed with his investigation into
apprehending the "real" serial killer.


Robert Crais does not pull any punches and really gets inside the
heads of all his characters. When you read his novels you come away
feeling you "know" them personally. Also, his knowledge of LA is
finely detailed --- particularly his descriptions of the Laurel
Canyon area, which is so richly drawn you feel like you're right
there in Cole's living room. My only criticism is that, once the
killer is revealed, things are wrapped up a little too quickly
without allowing readers to understand the motivation behind the
killings. Possibly that is the point --- we really cannot
understand how the psychopathic mind works.


Crais states it best with this thought from Elvis Cole at the close
of CHASING DARKNESS: "The darkness frightens me, but what it does
to us frightens me even more. Maybe that is why I do what I do. I
chase the darkness to make room for the light." Well said.


   











Reviewed by Ray Palen on December 26, 2010

Chasing Darkness: An Elvis Cole Novel
by Robert Crais

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 0743281640
  • ISBN-13: 9780743281645