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Voodoo River  - Robert Crais Elvis Cole is hired to find the birth parents of a TV star. He and Pike head to Baton Rouge and quickly uncover more than they bargained for. Can Cole and Pike find Jodie Taylor's birth parents and leave Lousiana with their hides intact?

It's been a lot time since my last Robert Crais book. Too long, in fact. Voodoo River is a prime example of why I stuck with Crais despite my initial impression that he was ripping off Robert B. Parker's Spenser.

In this outing, Cole's case takes him to Louisiana and quickly spirals out of control, par for the course for Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. I liked that Lucy Chenier was introduced as a recurring love interest for Elvis, even though I didn't quite buy how their relationship unfolded. Pike showed a little more depth but was pretty much along to get his hands dirty so Elvis wouldn't have to. Elvis continues to grow on me as a character. He's not the Spenser ripoff with a collection of quirks I almost dismissed him as in the first book.

The plot took off in a direction I never expected, something that always gets high marks for me. Kudos to whomever wrote the back cover of the book for not giving anything away. Another thing going for it is that someone got devoured by a big snapping turtle at the end. You don't see that every day.

If this was one of the first couple Elvis Cole books I read, I'd be tempted to give it a 5. However, I can't justify giving it more than a four for the following reason. It seems like the Elvis Cole books always follow the same pattern. Elvis and Joe keep poking around and poking around until they bad guys are good and mad and maneuver them into a bloody shootout at the end. While it was a really exciting book and I liked the twists, it followed the same basic pattern as the others. Still, it's firmly in four territory.