In the latest Elvis Cole book, a teenager involved in a series of high-end burglaries is pursued by a murderous, wisecracking duo—possibly dirty cops—hired to recover a stolen laptop.
Along with his dicey new friends, Alec and Amber, with whom he's smitten, 17-year-old Valley boy Tyson Connor has been stashing away tens of thousands of dollars from selling stolen items, including watches and jewelry. His mother, Devon, knows he's in some kind of trouble but thinks he may be dealing drugs. After Tyson disappears, she hires Cole to find him. The coldblooded bad guys don't hesitate to kill people, including a busboy who gave them information about Alec and Amber and an elderly regular at a flea market where the young crooks sold their loot. With the LA cops on his case, as usual, and his regular associate Joe Pike providing backup, the private eye and Devon are able to make contact with Tyson electronically. When Devon texts her son that Alec has been murdered, Amber convinces him that his mom is making up stories to get him back—but a text from Cole about the flea-market lady's death, coupled with some Googling, makes Tyson wonder. Among West Coast mystery writers, none is more reliable than Crais, who is in excellent form here. Though he makes his villains a bit too much of a comedy duo—the violence is oddly muted as a result—it's difficult to resist an exchange in which they argue over the use of the music from the shower scene in Psycho as a ringtone.
In his 21st book, Los Angeles ace Crais (The Promise, 2015, etc.) extends his streak of sharp, enjoyable thrillers.