The Monkey's Raincoat gave birth to Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, Los Angeles private investigators. In the first book of this beloved series, Ellen Lang hires Elvis and Joe to find her husband and son. Mort, Ellen's husband, is a less than desirable husband, which is obvious to everyone but Ellen. Besides the fact that Mort's been keeping a mistress, Elvis discovers that the Hollywood agent has gotten himself involved with some nasty drug dealers. When those same nasty drug dealers are told that Elvis has some of their missing cocaine, they turn their threats on him.
This is not my first reading of The Monkey's Raincoat, and in actuality, I listened to it on audio book this time around. The version I listened to is the Chivers recording read by William Roberts. At first I was a little hesitant because Roberts didn't really have the sound I imagined for Elvis, but after a very short while, I knew I was going to love the reading. Roberts did an outstanding job with Elvis' dripping sarcasm. He also did an excellent job with the female roles in the book. My favorite role, though, would be his depiction of Lou Poitras. I thought Roberts did an phenomenal job with Poitras, and I could picture him precisely as I listened to him referring to Elvis as "Hound Dog". While I wasn't especially fond of his reading for Pike, I'll also mention that I probably wouldn't be happy with most any reading of Pike. Maybe, but I haven't heard one yet.
Roberts also deserves kudos for his pacing in this reading. He added dramatic tension at the right times and at the right levels. He didn't become overly dramatic so that the reader...er, listener...was left rolling his/her eyes. Instead he danced seductively with the prose so that the audience was left breathless at the right time, whether it be from laughing at the humor or from increased heart rate during the action.
Crime fiction doesn't get any better than The Monkey's Raincoat. The characters are so dynamic and unique that you're sure they really must exist. Characters this complex couldn't possibly come from someone's imagination. Even the cat! Which is probably why these characters stick with so many readers. Whenever I've finished an Elvis Cole novel, I walk around with Elvis and Joe inside my head for days; they are always welcome there.
Crais' humor is simply unmatched in the crime fiction world today. I had forgotten how many wonderful lines are in this book. [Elvis] "Do you always carry lipstick in your truck?" [Joe] "You'd be amazed what I have in that truck." I listened to this audio book on my mp3 player as I was walking my dog each day through the park. I'm sure people in the park thought I was a bit off as I was laughing so often.
The Monkey's Raincoat is simply a classic. It is a joy to read and reread and read again! Still among my favorites of all time!