Book Report: Lullaby Town by Robert Crais (1992)

Lullaby Town is the third Elvis Cole book, and Crais takes the series in a new, but common direction. No longer does Elvis Cole have to figure out what’s going on, but rather he knows what’s going on and has to get his client out of it.

When a famous Hollywood director hires Elvis Cole to find his ex-wife and child, Cole has to travel from the warm and friendly confines of California to New England. He soon discovers the wife has made a new, successful life for herself but with accidental and encompassing involvement as a money launderer for a New York crime family. So early in the book, we know the whole thing and the remainder of the book is not so much mystery as it is crime-based problem solving.

Robert B. Parker took this tack, too, with a number of his novels and, in many cases, the lesser novels in his canon. Chandler, nah, Marlowe was always trying to figure out what was going on in the room. Whenever crime novels run in this direction, they tend to make their heroes the most clever person in the room, and that goes against the spirit of the hardboiled school in a way, where the detective perseveres and wins in the end not by outfoxing, necessarily, the bad guys, but through his tenaciousness and relentlessness. Okay, with some intelligence, too.

Heather assures me that not all of the remainders of the series reflect this trend, which I hope is the case. I root for the underdog, and guys who hope to outsmart organized criminals aren’t underdogs. They’re just smart guys who outsmart organized crime. And in series of detective novels, they do it once a year at least.

Confession: When confronted with the name Elvis, most people would think of the Elvis. Me, when I picture Elvis Cole in my head, I have a different Elvis as a starting point.