Robert Crais' twelveth novel, Chasing Darkness (print published in 2008 and pictured above - this cover art uses the archetypal city of lights night-scape) would herald a throw back of sorts to the root of the series, and genre. Unlike the previous novel, The Watchman, this book returns to a linear timeline and traditional crime mystery story. Conceptually, Chasing Darkness moves the work away from the last two Cole-focused novels (The Last Detective and The Forgotten Man) in that it does not plum the depths of the P.I.'s backstory and the character's psychological underpinnings. Still, is it like the first five books in the series? Again, no. This one has more in common with the transitional pair of novels, Sunset Express and Indigo Slam, in form with its prologue setting the stage for the mystery to unfold. As well, the author craftily bestows on this episode a very Chandleresque perspective in how it delves into the L.A. seats of power and its channels of corruption. The Raymond Chandler connection has been a significant influence on this novelist's writings, and on the P.I. genre in general (especially when it lands anywhere near The City of the Angels).
To make the point, I'd highlight a friend's look upon this. Corey Wilde's review from 2008 was succinct, but I appreciated his standpoint. His analysis was equally keen with his reply to my comment at the time as to why the author's skill level shouldn't be overlooked:
"Yes, I agree, in some aspects CD is very Chandleresque. I remember just as I was finishing the book thinking that CD was almost old-fashioned (and I mean that in a good sense: good quality, traditional PI plot) in that the detective work was very real, very dogged. If Marlowe was on the case rather than Elvis, I think he would have trod the same steps, asked the same questions Elvis did.With Elvis seeking to clear his name (and possibly, his conscience) in a infamous series of murders, all of the undertones are in place in this book. As always, Elvis' orbit of friends and colleagues are there to assist the (self named) World's Greatest Detective. And with his return, it gives his fans hope that there will always be another Elvis Cole novel somewhere on the horizon.
Also, in some places (but not so often that Crais could be accused of cheap imitation) Crais wrote in that darkly lyrical tone that colored so much of Chandler's work. Right at the beginning, when he describes the fires: "...sick desert wind carried the promise of Hell." And not hell, Hell. Just adding the cap adds impact. Is Crais smart or what?
Crais is, I think, more subtle than Chandler; in fact sometimes he's so subtle I think some of his themes and characterizations escape folks who read just for Elvis's humor and Joe's, um, skills. I particularly thinks that's true of The Watchman."
[Chasing Darkness Cover Art photostream]
Brilliance Audio, naturally, used the hardcover's artwork for their audiobook edition (since they were released at the same time as the book). Furthermore, the audio publisher would continue to use their most series-seasoned narrator for this, James Daniels. However, this would be reader Daniels final audio narration for this now venerable series. From Publisher Weekly:
"After earning a law degree, James Daniels quit recording audiobooks, but returned to read Crais's newest Elivis Cole and Joe Pike mystery (his previous Crais recordings include The Forgotten Man, Hostage, The Last Detective, Lullaby Town and The Watchman). It's a welcome return and Daniel's no-nonsense reading elevates one of Crais's lesser efforts and turns it into an enjoyable listening experience. Slipping back into these characters, Daniels easily distinguishes Cole's wise-guy banter from Pike's steely resolution, and he gives this outing's enigmatic villain, Lionel Byrd, just the right note of weirdness."I'd agree with their take of the narrator's interpretation of the material, but PW is sorely off-target on the rest. This isn't "one of Crais's lesser efforts...". Daniels performed his last double, too, in recording both the abridged version (at just under 6 hours) and the unabridged (7:18) audiobook. I'm including two audio clip samples here from both U.S. versions. The first covers the audiobook introduction and the great initial sentence Robert Crais begins the book with: abridged, unabridged. The second involves a significant sequence late in the novel -- luckily, the abridgment is not as severe as others in the series: abridged and unabridged.
BBC Chivers' audiobook would incorporate an entirely different cover art than the U.S. versions. I liken this artwork to that of the U.K.'s Orion hardcover; and it's one that echoed the imagery of the novel's prologue. Their audio version (coming in at just under 8 hours) would be delayed (again) by a year in lieu of the U.S. audiobook release overseas. William Roberts would bring another strong performance as the most senior and steadfast narrator for the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series. However, he will still have issues with certain Spanish surnames (unfortunately). Check out his audio samples with the introduction and the highlighted passage.
Next up: The First Rule
The Monkey's Raincoat
Stalking the Angel
The Last Detective
The Forgotten Man
The First Rule
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