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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Taken (Elvis Cole #15) (Joe Pike #4) by Robert Crais

Published in 2012 by G.P. Putnam's Sons

I've been reading a lot of "assigned" reading lately. By assigned reading I mean books I agreed to review for publishers/authors or books that I read just to shrink my dreaded 4-milk-crates-full "to be read" pile. They were mostly good books, (some were great, even) but when I was at the local purveyor of books I saw this Elvis Cole novel I had to get it to read just for me because it was my idea in the first place because I am such a fan of this series.

Robert Crais
In Taken Elvis Cole is hired to find a missing college student. A widowed mother has received a call for a few hundred dollar ransom but she believes her daughter has ran off with "that boy" and is trying to scam her for money to go off and get married in Las Vegas.

Sadly, Cole proves her wrong. The girl and "that boy" have been kidnapped by bajadores - bad guys that kidnap illegal aliens coming into the United States in order to squeeze out a small ransom (or multiple small ransoms) from terrified family members who would be afraid to call the police. Sometimes the victims are released, sometimes they are killed when the money dries up.

Cole brings in his partner Joe Pike and soon enough they discover that this is going to get even more complicated and a lot more dangerous before it is over...

Robert Crais has organized this Elvis Cole book a bit differently. Usually he follows a straightforward timeline, but in this book he flashes back and forth, including characters and talking about events that have happened as though the reader already knows all about it. It was designed to whet the appetite of the reader. For example, on page 39 we find out that Elvis Cole will go missing and Joe Pike and a friend are searching for him in Pike's typical thorough and abrupt (and violent) manner. I didn't have a problem with this way of organizing the book, but if that kind of thing bugs you, then you will absolutely hate this book.

There is an ongoing theme in this book about Joe and Elvis and what they mean to one another. There are precious few words spoken on the topic, but there is something there. At one point Joe is looking for help to find Elvis and he calls a special forces-type associate. His friend insults Cole and then asks, "Why do you waste your time with that guy?"

Joe ignores the insult and the question and secures the help and does everything he can to rescue his friend. Elvis knows Joe will be coming, but will it be in time? The absolute faith in one another and the devotion to one another are clear but what does Joe Pike, who is like an island onto himself, get out of it?

I am of the opinion that Elvis Cole is Pike's link to the real world, such as it is. Cole is tough like Pike but he is different. Cole's world is a world with a pet cat (sort of), cartoon characters and a dirty car (because absolutely everything does not have to be stowed away perfectly. Really, it doesn't) and that difference is salve for Pike's soul in some sort of way.

This is not the best of the Elvis Cole novels (I would put L.A. Requiem and Hostage on that particular pedestal) , but I feel like I should grade them on a curve because there isn't a dud in the bunch that I have read so far.. This one is not an A+, merely an A. An excellent read.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Taken by Robert Crais.

Reviewed on July 17, 2013

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