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Stalking The Angel  - Robert Crais An ancient copy of the Hagakure, a Japanese text, goes missing from a rich man's safe and it's up to Elvis Cole to track it down. The man's daughter Mimi goes missing with a warning to call off the search. All signs point to the yakuza. Can Cole and Pike bring back Mimi and find the Hagakure?

The central teaching of the Hagakure is "The Way of the Warrior is Death" and that would have been a good title for this book. Elvis Cole goes from one grisly murder to the next, uncovering more and more dark information about the relationship between Mimi Warren and her father. Due to Mimi's mental state, by the end I wasn't exactly sure what was the truth and what was the lie.

The plot had a lot of twists, many of them unexpected, but followed the same conventions as the previous Cole book, the Monkey's Raincoat; lots of sleuthing leading to a huge bloody shootout at the end. It was suspenseful but not revolutionary. I lost count of the 80's references.

As much as I wanted to keep thinking of Elvis Cole as a thinly veiled copy of Robert B. Parker's Spenser, I'm forced to abandon my curmudgeonly stance and admit that Cole's a helluva lot more than that. For one thing, I've never seen Spenser make such a dog's breakfast out of a case. Cole was fleshed out quite a bit more in this one. Joe Pike had a few lines but still feels like a walking collection of guns to me.

Stalking the Angel was one hell of a serpentine read. If you've got four or five hours to kill reading a thriller, you could do a lot worse.