The Monkey's Raincoat introduces Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.

So, here we’ve got two guys, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. They’re partners in an odd-couple sort of way in a detective agency. Both are Vietnam vets, and they’re both as tough as they come. Yet there’s little else they have in common. Pike, an ex-marine, owns and runs a gun store in Culver City and never uses the office Cole sets aside for him. “Sometimes he goes to places like El Salvador or Botswana or the Sudan” to work as a mercenary. He never smiles, never laughs, and he “thinks Clint Eastwood talks too much.”

Introducing Elvis Cole and Joe Pike

Cole, on the other hand, is the quintessential wiseguy. He never passes up a chance to crack a joke or an insult. For instance, in dealing with a (beautiful) would-be client who has annoyed him, he says “as much as I’d like to lick chocolate syrup off your body, I want you to shut up.” Cole manages to stay on an even keel by constantly practicing yoga, tai chi, and several martial arts disciplines you may never have heard of. And he has a habit common among fictional private detectives of hopping into bed with women who cross his path. Like the chocolate-syrup lady, for example.

The Monkey’s Raincoat (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike #1) by Robert Crais (1993) 226 pages @@@@ (4 out of 5)

A wild ride with Elvis Cole and Joe Pike

The Monkey’s Raincoat is the first book in Robert Crais‘s now eighteen-strong series of Elvis Cole and Joe Pike novels. The two guys’s adventure starts when Ellen Lang and Janet Simon show up in Cole’s office. Lang is there because her friend Janet has dragged her along. She’s reluctant to hire Cole just because her husband and nine-year-old son have disappeared. She’s convinced Mort will show up any day with the boy. But, of course, Simon (and Cole) both know that’s not going to happen. Eventually, though, first Cole, and then Pike as well, become involved in the search for Mort and the boy. And, naturally, the investigation turns violent when they discover malevolent forces have come down on Lang’s family. It’s a wild ride, and hugely entertaining.

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