Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pike and Cole share the stage in Taken, another fine thriller from Robert Crais

Book 20: Taken by Robert Crais

From the beginning, his engaging characters have been the strength of thrillers from the pen of Robert Crais.

Elvis Cole, self-proclaimed World’s Greatest Detective, carried his early novels. In recent years, Joe Pike, originally only a shadowy and silent sidekick, emerged as the star of his own books.

In Taken, Crais newest novel, the pair share the stage, an arrangement that works just fine thank you.

Taken is an engrossing and highly entertaining thriller – but you could say that about any book from Crais through the past decade, and many have.

It’s not only the characters, of course. Crais was a Hollywood screenwriter before launching a career as a novelist. He knows how to ramp up a story, 0-60, in the opening pages, up to a pleasant cruising speed of 90 mph until the journey’s end.

Taken begins when an American couple are accidentally kidnapped by bajadores, bandits who prey on other bandits. The bajadores intercept people -- along with guns and drugs -- being brought into America illegally.

The bajadores then extort money from the families of the kidnap victims. When the money runs out, they kill the kidnap victims, capture more and start the process over again.

Cole is hired to find the missing couple. Naturally, he turns to Pike for help.

The best part of Taken takes place after the bad guys have been dispatched and the couple rescued. 

There’s an exchange between Cole and Pike, only a few pages in length, that summarizes everything fans like about this series. It captures the essence of the relationship between the two men and showcases Crais’ skill as a writer.

And the great thing is you’ve got to read the entire book to get there.

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