Racing the Light, a review by Joanna

posted in: Joanna | 2

Racing the Light

Robert Crais

Brilliance Audio

7hrs 55 mins

Released November 1st, 2022



This is the nineteenth book in the Elvis Cole series, about a wisecracking LA Private Investigator and his Strong Silent associate Joe Pike. This has been one of my favourite thriller series, and it’s been 2&1/2 years since the last book, so I was very much looking forward to it. Unfortunately I was disappointed by the plot of this one – most unthrilling, and neither did I enjoy the audiobook narration.

Elvis is hired by the mother of obnoxious investigative podcast broadcaster Joshua Shoe to find him: she is convinced her son has been kidnapped, but the police aren’t interested. His friend thinks he’s chasing another UFO story in Roswell, but Elvis soon discovers that Josh had stumbled onto a corruption scandal – and that he’s not the only one looking for him. Meanwhile, Cole’s ex is back in town to set his heart aflutter once more…
So here’s the thing: this series began in 1987 (I started it in 2013) and from memory Elvis & Pike would’ve been at least in their late 30s. We are not told what year this is supposed to be set in, but given the mentions of podcasts and some of the technology described (eg drones) I assume it’s recent but clearly pre-pandemic – so they must be pushing 70 – but they are still described as if they’re no more than 50. Similarly, Lucy’s son Ben was about 8 when they first met him in Voodoo River – published and presumably set around 2000 – but here he’s still only 17. And stranger still, Elvis still shares his house with the same grumpy and apparently immortal cat!! Yes I know it’s fiction, but having recently finished the latest Harry Bosch – who used to be Cole’s contemporary – and whose ageing has been a crucial part of the ongoing story arc, I found these inconsistencies jarring. I would prefer he just set these books back in the 2000s if he wants to keep his heroes ageless.
I used an Audible credit to purchase it, thinking that my husband would also enjoy it – they are all stand-alone stories, so it wouldn’t matter that he hadn’t read any of the previous books. If I had read my review of the last one beforehand, I would’ve reverted to the ebook – I do not like the way Luke Daniels voices characters, especially not for Pike – he sounds like a villain in a kid’s cartoon, and he’s hopeless at female voices too. I also didn’t think much of the story itself. Various potentially intriguing elements are introduced but then discarded – eg what exactly did Josh’s parents do for the military that entitles them to a team of bodyguards? Why did call girl and wannabe artist Skylar go to Josh with her potentially dangerous story? There are chapters from lots of different character perspectives, but only Elvis’ are told in first person.
The conspiracy itself was pretty boring and there was no suspense, unless you count the Will-they-won’t-they between Elvis and Lucy. There wasn’t nearly enough Pike, and Jon Stone, who I’ve previously quite liked, has turned into a complete @rse. Finally, the title makes no sense and doesn’t refer to anything in the book! I’m being generous giving this 3 stars – 2.5 rounded up for old times’ sake really, and because the standard of this one just doesn’t match the previous books – but a new reader would probably still enjoy it – my husband did. I’m not yet ready to give up on these characters – anyone can have one bad instalment in a series this long, but must remember not to bother with the audiobook next time.

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2 Responses

  1. Michel

    Racing the Light by Robert Crais was an okay book. I used to read him years ago and then stopped. I was looking forward to this book, but alas, I was disappointed. I expected more participation of the character Joe Pike and it wasn’t there. Also, I either I fell asleep or got bored, but WHO was the woman who called Donghai An Bo about the failed planted devices on page 329, Chapter 61 ?? ?
    I generally love Robert Crais, so I won’t give up, I’ll try another one of his past books.

  2. David Mathison

    Totally agree with your review….was so excited to eventually get a new Elvis/Pike but it did no excite at all….kept leaving it to read the new Michael Connelly so VERY disappointed!
    There is ONE reference to “Racing The Light@ though….. where he gets thru several green lights!

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