cover image Indigo Slam

Indigo Slam

Robert Crais. Hyperion Books, $22.45 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-6261-0

At the end of this wild ride, Vietnamese revolutionaries, Russian assassins and federal operatives are all part of a tense face-off. Not surprisingly, wisecracking L.A. shamus Elvis Cole is stuck right in the middle of things. At the start, Elvis is approached by three resourceful young children who would like their missing father located. That dad, Clark Hewitt, is soon revealed as a mystery man, a master printer and a possible junkie who fled the witness protection program he entered after informing on a counterfeiting operation run by Russian and Ukrainian mobsters. While Clark's kids clearly revere him, Elvis is suspicious. The feds want Clark back in their care and the Russians want revenge for his squealing. The final wrinkle comes in the shape of a Vietnamese family who want Clark to run off a stack of phony dong to wreak havoc on their country's economy. Elvis wants his lady love, Lucy, to move to L.A., but her possessive ex-husband has other ideas. Lurking under the trademark slick patter is a plot that gradually achieves a persuasive momentum. The taciturn Joe Pike, co-owner with Elvis of their detective agency, helps Elvis come up with a wild gambit that might make everyone happy, with the possible exception of the trigger-happy Russians. Never forgetting that wall-to-wall cuteness can't carry a novel unaided, Crais (Lullaby Town; Sunset Express) provides sympathetic and believable kids, a flawed father figure and a bunch of Vietnamese heavies with a softer side--all of whom rocket along until they interlock smoothly at the big finish. (June)