It was the fire in Laurel Canyon and forced evacuations that led to discovery of the dead man in a house. One Mr. Jones who had a bad foot was found dead apparently from a self inflicted gunshot. Clearly, he had been dead for awhile and maybe the photo album at his feet was the cause. A photo album filled with pictures of seven women at the moment of their deaths at hands of a maniac.
The reclusive Mr. Jones to all his neighbors was actually Lionel Bryd. He had been brought to trial three years ago in the murder of a local prostitute. Hired by his defense attorney, Allan Levy, the World’s Greatest Detective Elvis Cole proved that he was miles away at the time Yuonne Bennett died. He simply couldn’t have done it.
Yet, her death picture is in his album. Along with six other brutally murdered women. The LAPD Task Force is convinced Bryd was their man all along. They are convinced that Elvis, by getting Bryd cleared, allowed him to kill again. The case is closed, finished and disappearing rapidly and they really don’t want to talk to Elvis about any of it.
But, if Bryd did do it, how was he in two places at the same time? While that is the biggest question, there are several more. It just doesn’t add up and Elvis isn’t going to leave it alone just because members of the task force blame him and tell him to go away.
While he doesn’t care about the folks on the task force, he does care about the victims and the fact that he could have made a horrible mistake. If he did, he is responsible. And even if he didn’t, he still is responsible. Not only does he hold himself responsible so do the brothers of the latest victim. Wracked with guilt and angst and yet sure he was right, Elvis along with his sidekick Joe Pike, begin to investigate not only the cases but the task force itself. There are connections between the victims and the power elite in both the LAPD and the city and Elvis isn’t about to let the real killer get away.
At it’s heart, this is an angst novel. The families of the victims are shattered in so many ways. Elvis feels tremendous guilt over his role in events. And while he feels it, demonstrates it and talks about it, it never really comes out and touches the reader.
While this is a perfectly decent novel, this latest novel in the series isn’t epic or incredible. The old themes of corruption or at least the possibility of corruption at high levels is trotted out again. So too is the detective full of guilt and sorrow because he might have not only been used as a pawn, but helped a nut job go free. We have seen these themes done many times before with mixed results.
In the end, while not the best book ever in the series, it is a fairly good entry that does little to expand the character. It does however provide a solid vehicle for Elvis to gaze at the hills from his porch and think morose thoughts. That and tell a story that while predictable in many spots, does contain a few surprises, along the way in the hunt for yet another dark evil.
Chasing Darkness: An Elvis Cole Novel
Simon & Schuster
Review copy provided by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple Â© 2008