Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What was it all about? Robert Crais' The Monkey's Raincoat

Are there books that make you feel like: Duhhh...what was that all about? I have just finished Robert Crais' much lauded The Monkey's Raincoat and really do not know what it was all about. Since it is a much appreciated book, am I missing something?





Elvis Cole who runs a detective agency with his friend, the taciturn Joe Pike, is contacted by two women who claim to be friends. Janet Simon is the hard-as-nails, chain-smoking dame who bosses over her friend, the wishy-washy Ellen Lang, the damsel in distress. Ellen's husband Mort Lang has disappeared along with their young son Perry and Ellen is not ready to go to the cops. As Elvis investigates, it becomes apparent that Mort, a small-time Hollywood agent, was involved with a starlet and perhaps with drug-dealers. The investigative trail leads Elvis to a host of noxious people and finally to ex-matador and drug-baron Domingo Garcia Duran, who stands straight and tall as Ricardo Montalban. There is a lot of violence, bullets, sex, and deaths. And when the end came, I thought there was another chapter to come.

So those of you who have read this book could you please help me.?Those of you who haven't please don't read any further.

How come a woman who didn't know how to cut a cheque (WTH!) be so good at shooting. The two war veterans were saved by a woman who in the initial chapters had to be told to sit and speak! And to be so calm and collected after killing. Elvis, who has been a soldier, feels guilty about killing a couple of goons in self-defence and yet this very nice, demure housewife kills without turning a hair. Character development is always appreciated but not to the extent that it becomes unbelievable.

Why did Janet, who comes across as sure and confident in the beginning, turn into a pale, imitation of Ellen Lang midway through the book? Are their roles going to be reversed now?

How did Kimberley smuggle out the drugs? How was she able to throw the packet of drugs out to her boyfriend? Wasn't the house suppose to be well-guarded?

Why should a straight-forward novel dealing with organised crime and with no twist whatsoever be named one of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association? Where was the mystery? I waited and waited for the twist that will turn the book on its head.

And, what exactly did Duran mean by "The property was never important" ? If it wasn't, what was the whole fuss about?!!!


Really, I am very tired of books that come with lots of glowing reviews and turn out to be damp squibs.

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First Line: "I'm sorry, Mr.Cole, this has nothing to do with you."

Title: The Monkey's Raincoat

Series: Elvis Cole/ Joe Pike #1

Author: Robert Crais

Publication Details: NY: Bantam Books, 1992

First Published: 1987

Pages: 201

Other books read of the same author: None

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The book can be borrowed for free from the Open Library.

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Submitted for various challenges.





10 comments:

  1. As you know I am no great reader of books, but I quite agree it is not on to change the nature and personality of characters half way through a book just to fit a story. OK if someone is say a spy or undercover fair enough. Even I in my little mad little blog don't go changing the personality of the characters in my blog so I can write something new or witty, its a easy cheap trick . . . .

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    1. And I hope you never resort to an 'easy cheap trick.' I want Dad to continue with his scientific experiments and I want Mom to continue calling you an Idiot. :)

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  2. I also got this one earlier this year because I have read so many good things about the series (and Crais) - perhaps this isn;t the best place to start? Thanks Neeru, I may put this further down the TBR!

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    1. No Sergio,please don't put it further down the TBR. Read Yvette's passionate defence of it below and give it a go.

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    2. Sergio you can easily begin the series with FREE FALL or LULLABY TOWN or even VOODOO RIVER. Or begin at the very beginning - as Neer says, see my comment. :) Maybe I can convince you.

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  3. I'm going to whole-heartedly disagree with you on this one, Neer. Hang on to your hat - here we go. :)
    When I read this book years ago I was immediately hooked on Robert Crais and went on to read everything he ever wrote up until this moment. My favorites of all his books are, of course, the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike books. And here are the reasons why:
    The way I see it: These books are basically myths, modern day fables - even romances, if you will, in the nature of the fabled 'romances' of the knights in shining armor of old. The plot points (though I didn't find much to argue about in the story, maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention) are not as important as the theme which is: the friendship of two men who would, without hesitation, die for each other. I like to say that Elvis and Joe are as close as two men can be without having sex. I read these books for this friendship which stirs something in me that I can't quite explain. It's true that in THE MONKEY'S RAINCOAT, Joe is not as 'fleshed out' as he will come to be over time, over the series of books (we will later learn of 'the why' of his taciturn nature) - I've told Robert Crais (we exchange emails once in a long while here and there) that when I first read THE MONKEY'S RAINCOAT I thought Joe was a figment of Elvis Cole's imagination - especially in the scene where they're in the park meeting up with the bad guys and Joe glides silently through the underbrush. I love that. I also love that in the end (SPOILER) he is shot by a 'gold lama automatic' - what else would Joe be shot with? I love the last line of the book. I love Elvis' musings on Peter Pan. I love that Elvis collects Disney paraphernalia, especially Jiminy Cricket objects. I love his devil may care attitude which is really a cover for a man with very deep feelings about honor - a man who will always do the right thing. I love the cat. But above all I love that friendship which deepens and evolves over the length of the series and makes me keep coming back to read the books again and again. Though I will say that THE MONKEY'S RAINCOAT is not my top, top favorite in the series (though I will say that it contains two of the funniest lines I've ever read - lines which no matter how many times I read them, always make me laugh- I do a lot of laughing with Elvis), it is still the book that introduced me to Elvis and Joe so it will always have a special place in my heart. These books by the way are not whodunits as much as they are thrillers - in thrillers, as you know, there is not always a neat ending. If our heroes live to fight another day, I'm happy.

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  4. P.S. Sorry for running so long, but you know me, I get carried away...

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    1. Dear Yvette

      It was wonderful too read your passionate defence of the book. It is not the first time we have disagreed over a book (remember Brat Farrar) and I hope it is not the last. It'd be a boring world indeed if all of us thought the same.

      You are right about Elvis and Joe's friendship. The one point I really liked about the book was the bromance between the two. I liked how they cared about each other and I liked the tension that errupted when Lou Poitras (whom I liked more than anyone else) entered the scene.

      My problem was with the attempt to show Ellen Lang as a super-woman. Her transformation was just too unbelievable. In fact, I had problems with the portaryal of the other women characters too. Kimberley was the other woman so she had to be a tart. Janet was strong so she had to have a melt-
      down and find herself in Elvis' arms. These things kind of put me off.

      Please don't be bothered about the length of your comments ever. It is always a pleasure to read your views and the more the merrier.

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  5. Neer, I am glad I got back to this post. I read this book plus the 2nd one in the series many years ago. I did like #2 in the series much better, but haven't continued it. Yvette's defense of the book and the series was very useful and I will keep that in mind when reading more of them.

    I do have #3 in the series so I guess I will have to fit it in sometime in 2014.

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  6. Yvette has really provided some defence, hasn't she? :)

    I'd wait for your views on #3.

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