Robert Crais’s “Taken” is another thrill ride
In the new novel “Taken,” Robert Crais brings his signature character to life again to take on yet another daring assignment. While the book is not Crais’s best, it certainly is a welcome addition to the long-running Elvis Cole series.
One would think that a private investigator would start to wind down his career by middle age, but Cole shows no signs of slowing down. Since 1987, the “World’s Greatest Detective” has been entertaining readers not only with his ability to defeat some of the deadliest criminals in Los Angeles but also by maintaining his dry sense of humor in the most dangerous of situations.
When a college student and her boyfriend go missing, Elvis Cole is hired by the girl’s mother to find them. As always, Cole is assisted by his taciturn and lethal partner Joe Pike, and the two eventually discover that the couple has been abducted by bajadores (criminals who kidnap people entering illegally into the United States to milk their families for ransom, only to kill them when their families can no longer pay). When Cole himself is taken by the bajadores, he must find a way to rescue the couple while Pike tries to rescue Cole.
Much like Crais’s other novels, the story is fast-paced and exciting. Crais knows how to write suspenseful action, and it certainly shows in “Taken.” What separates Crais from other authors is his ability to humanize his characters. The reader feels Elvis Cole’s despair when he sees the battered captives, and even the stoic Joe Pike is written as someone who loves his friend and will do anything to save him. Cole and Pike certainly do extraordinary things, but they are not extraordinary people – they are like everyone else, with emotions that are affected when encountering dangers.
The major problem with “Taken” was Crais’s decision to tell the story while jumping forwards and backwards in time. Time shifts can be difficult in any book, but it was especially confusing in such an energetic novel as “Taken.” It was often challenging to figure out which events were supposed to be taking place. The flashbacks and flash forwards were simply unnecessary and took away from the plot.
Overall, “Taken” is a very interesting and page-turning read. Elvis Cole might be older, but hopefully he has no plans for retirement.
Sean Quinn can be reached at sean.quinn@ student.shu.edu.