The Monkey's Raincoat
Robert Crais' first novel, The Monkey's Raincoat (published in 1987 and pictured above), was the first in the now long-running Elvis Cole / Joe Pike series (the author has stated very clearly that he considers them of the same series and universe, no matter how they are labeled by publishers). It introduced the L.A.-based private eye with the case of finding the husband and son of his new client, Ellen Lang. Most of the elements of how the early books were structured were set here. The story is told in the first person by our protagonist--like many detective stories are often told. And, though the hardcover and paperback came out in the late-80's/early-90's, the U.S. rights audiobook publisher, Brilliance Audio, Inc., didn't produce an audiobook of the author's first book until 2001.
Brilliance is the largest independent audio book publisher in the United States, founded in 1984. It's also important to note, the first five books in this series all started out as abridged versions, like they were rushed to do it. The first Monkey's Raincoat audio version featured the smooth voice of David Stuart as the reader. I personally liked listening to Stuart, and his youthful delivery works well for the wise-cracking, sensitive side of the character. However, that liquid voice doesn't exactly cut it for the harder, edgier aspects of Elvis, and certainly the vocal characterization of his partner Joe Pike didn't seem quite right (though some with the bad streets cast of Los Angeles were performed well). Judge for yourself with this audio sample of Mr. Stuart. The other aspect listeners should be aware of is although Crais initially outlined Pike's death in this book, he grew to love the guy (as did the author's fans) as he wrote the novel. So much so, he changed the ending, and with that, greatly impacted the series. Overall, this book and the abridged audiobook whetted the appetite for this very appealing character and cast.
Brilliance did not produce an unabridged The Monkey's Raincoat version until early in 2008. For that production, studio managers brought back the narrator who first did the fifth abridged audiobook in the series, Voodoo River, for this full edition, Patrick G. Lawlor. Lawlor is a solid audiobook reader (I've heard and enjoyed him in other books). However, his delivery and range in characterization is limited when compared to the other professional narrators who've were enlisted in this series. But, there's no way around it. Given the timbre and rasp of his voice, he's an awkward fit as the reader for this now beloved series cast. Here's his sample. See, I told you ;-). And now you know why he's my least favorite of all of them.
However, if we just stayed within the United States, that would be it. But, I'm nothing if not
Next up: Stalking the Angel
The Monkey's Raincoat
Stalking the Angel
The Last Detective
The Forgotten Man
The First Rule