Book Review: L. A. REQUIEM, by Robert Crais, 1999

L. A. REQUIEM, Robert Crais, 1999
L. A. REQUIEM by Robert Crais is a murder mystery that is in the genre of the hard boiled
detective type. The procedural method, often used by police departments, was employed to
solve the murder mystery. Herein, Private Detectives used information gathered by the Robbery
Homicide Division and Internal Affairs of the Los Angeles Police Department. They are located
at the Parker Centre in Los Angeles. The plot unfolds in Los Angeles and at times moves to
other locations, for example, Palm Springs, California.
The main characters are Elvis Cole and Joseph Pike. They have been partners in a Private
Detective Agency for twelve years. Their services are hired by a well to do and influential Latin
to locate the person or persons who murdered his beloved daughter. Cole and Pike soon find
out, indirectly, that more than one murder has occurred (five murders, so far) and they may be
linked together, in some way. The premier Robbery and Homicide Division of the Los Angeles
Police Department, located at Parker Centre does not want to cooperate with the Private
Investigators, but are forced to, in a fashion, because the father of the murdered Latin girl has a
great deal of political influence. Elvis Cole secures help from a Detective within the division.
Her name is Samantha Dolan. She is currently on the outs with the division and she believes if
she, along with Cole, can get some evidence that will move the investigation along she will be
accepted as a full member again. Samantha, while working with Cole, develops a strong sexual
itch for Cole, whereupon, she seduces him and he fills those empty places that Samantha
longed to have filled. Now that their relationship has been cemented, both physically and
mentally, they are able to move along at a faster clip. They want to know if they are dealing with
a serial killer or someone who is killing these people for revenge.
Then Cole’s partner Joe Pike becomes a suspect because he was identified by a witness as the
killer of the person who found the Latin girl’s body. So now, Elvis Cole, not only has to find the
Latin girl’s killer, but he must find a way to show that his partner Joe is innocent of murder. In
the meantime Cole comes to know that the killings are being done for revenge. However, the
Lead Detective of the Robbery Homicide Division, one Harvey Krantz, has a strong hatred for
Cole’s partner in that Pike offended his dignity years earlier. Harvey Krantz wants to nail Pike
for the murders and is blind to new evidence unearthed by Cole. So now you are in the middle
of this murderous situation and the author is about to put the pedal to the metal and take off.
Open the book and enjoy the excitement as you get deeper into the investigation.
The main characters in the novel are Elvis Cole and Joseph Pike. The secondary characters in
the novel are Cole’s romantic attachments to Lucy Chenier who recently moved to Los Angeles
from the South and Samantha Dolan whom I mentioned earlier in that she is a detective in the
Robbery Homicide Division, and, of course, Harvey Krantz, the lead detective of the Robbery
Homicide Division.
The problems that the main characters encounter come from these sources. One, The Los
Angeles Police Department does not want to work with Private Investigators in order to solve
the murder cases they are involved in. Secondly, Elvis Cole’s love life is complicated. He tries
to serve the desires of two women (Lucy and Samantha). While Samantha is visiting Elvis,
Samantha states, “I want you, goddamnit. I want to sleep with you.” (p. 298) Then Elvis says,
“Shh.” (p. 298) Elvis goes on to say, “Her breast moved against my arm.” (p. 298) Samantha
says, “I want you to love me.” (p. 298) “Shh.” (p.298) says Elvis. Samantha gets upset and
bluntly states, “Don’t shush me, goddamnit.” (p.298) Then Samantha
…traced her fingers along my thigh, her eyes shining in the dim light. She gazed up
at me, and she was so close that her breath felt like fireflies on my cheek. She was
Pretty and tough and funny, and I wanted her. I wanted to hold her, and I wanted her
To hold me, and if I could fill her empty places maybe she could fill mine. (p. 298)
However poor Elvis’s plans go down in flames. While Elvis is on the couch with Detective
Samantha and admiring and soothing her ample breasts with his warm hands his other
romantic interest, Lucy, enters the room, “…staring at (them) a terrible pain enters into her
eyes…Lucy snatched her purse…and slammed out the door….” (p. 298) Oh my God. On the
other hand, Cole’s partner, Pike, even though he is wanted for murder, believes he does not
have any real problems. Pike has no love life and he seems to be on cruise control, Cole thinks
otherwise and is now also trying to clear away Pike’s problem (being accused of murder).
The hard boiled detective sanario is challenged somewhat in that if we compare Elvis Cole with
Samuel Spade one will find that Elvis is a real pussy cat in that their client, a rich Latin who has
employed Pike and Cole’s agency to find out who murdered his daughter is working pro bono
(for free). Sam Spade must be turning over in his grave. Furthermore, if one compares Pike to
Spade one finds that Pike is cold Damascus steel. Spade is a realist, Pike is, well a killer, if he
needs to be. For example,
He thought that if Dersh (Dersh found the Latin girl’s body) had killed Karen Garcia
(Pike’s former girlfriend) he might end the man. He would lay open the fabric of
justice , and let it be Dersh’s shroud. He could do such a thing now, even here in
The daylight as the police watched. (p. 136)
Sam Spade would, for sure, turn the above mentioned individual (Dersh) over to the police. He
would not murder him. Furthermore, Pike does not talk much, in fact, the actor Clint Eastwood
would be called a motor mouth compared to Pike. If Pike was a robot, one would say, he is a
pretty dull one. His lawyer asked him, “What’d you do between eight and eleven-ten?” (p.221)
Pike replied, “I showered.” (p.221) Then his lawyer said, “You had to be doing something
besides the goddamned shower.” (p.221) Pike thought for a moment and then said, “I was
being.” (p.221) So he does not seem to read, watch television or masterbate. Pike likes
BEING. Pike is BORING to the max. The author tries, as best he can, to put meat on Pike’s
bones by doing flashbacks throughout the novel, but they do not work, at least, for me. This
novel would be better off if Joseph Pike was eliminated from it altogether. Hence, that is what I
would change in this novel. Bye-bye Pike.
The author spent a lot of time learning the correct names of the flora and fauna found in
Southern California. Why? The author does not provide colour slides of the flora and fauna so
that information means nothing to those of us not located in Southern California. Please, do not
get the wrong opinion of me, really, I do like to gain new knowledge, but if I cannot see the
bushes and flowers, it means nothing to me. On the other hand, he does need to do research
on things that do matter. For example, in the beginning of the novel on page six he describes
the manager of the Islander Palms Hotel. The author gives the manager an Arabic name and
has him wearing a turban and states, “Fahreed’s heart pounded, because even a Hindu knew a
gunshot.” (p. 6) Well, a Hindu would not have an Arabic name and only members of the Sikh
religion wear turbans. Hindus do not wear turbans. So, here I am, only on page six and the
author is displaying no knowledge, whatsoever, when writes about the hotel manager. This
makes one wonder that if the research concerning the hotel manager is zero, what about the
research on the rest of the novel?
Would I recommend this book? Yes, the plot is fun and exciting. The type of reader who would
enjoy this book would be one who is not too concerned with the weaknesses in character
development, especially in regards to Mr. Pike, the dull robot. So chill out and enjoy the plot.

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