When people call a private investigator because someone they love is missing, especially a child, the fear bubbles in their voice like boiling lard. When Nita Morales called that morning about her missing adult daughter, she didn’t sound afraid. She was irritated. Ms. Morales phoned because the Sunday Los Angeles Times Magazine published a story about me eight weeks ago, rehashing a case where I cleared an innocent man who had been convicted of multiple homicides. The magazine people came to my office, took a couple of pretty good pictures, and made me sound like a cross between Philip Marlowe and Batman. If I were Nita Morales, I would have called me, too.
Her business, Hector Sports & Promotions, was on the east side of the Los Angeles River near the Sixth Street Bridge, not far from where giant radioactive ants boiled up from the sewer to be roasted by James Arness in the 1954 classic, Them! It was a warehouse area now, but no less dangerous. Buildings were layered with gang tags and graffiti, and signs warned employees to lock their cars. Steel bars covered windows and concertina wire lined roofs, but not to keep out the ants.
That spring morning, 8:55 a.m., a low haze filled the sky with a glare so bright I squinted behind the Wayfarers as I found the address. Hector Sports & Promotions was in a newer building with a gated, ten-foot chain-link fence enclosing their parking lot.
A young Latin guy with thick shoulders and dull eyes came out when I stopped, as if he had been waiting.
“You the magazine guy?”
The magazine guy.
“That’s right. Elvis Cole. I have a ten o’clock with Ms. Morales.”
“I gotta unlock the gate. See the empty spot where it says Delivery? Park there. You might want to put up the top and lock it.”
“Think it’ll be safe?”
That would be me, flashing the ironic smile at their overkill battlestar security.
“For sure. They only steal clean cars.”
That would be him, putting me in my place.
He shook his head sadly as I drove past.
“I had an old Vette like this, I’d show some love. I’d pop those dents, for sure.”
That would be him, rubbing it in. My Jamaica yellow 1966 Corvette Stingray convertible is a classic. It’s also dirty.
He locked the parking gate behind us, told me he was Nita Morales’s assistant, and led me inside. We passed through an outer office with a counter for customers, and a man and woman at separate desks. The man and woman both looked over, and the man held up the Sunday magazine issue with my story. Embarrassing.
We passed through a door onto the shop floor where fifteen or twenty people were operating machines that sewed logos on baseball caps and photo-inked mugs. Nita Morales had a glass office on the far side of the shop where she could see the floor and everything happening there. She saw us coming, and stepped from behind her desk to greet the magazine guy when we entered. Tight smile. Dry hand. All business.
“Hi, Mr. Cole, I’m Nita. You look like your picture.”
“The one where I look stupid or the one where I look confused?”
Copyright © 2012 by Robert Crais
The tension couldn’t be higher—or the action faster—in Taken, Robert Crais’ relentlessly paced Elvis Cole and Joe Pike thriller, a hard-edged race against time through the murderous world of human traffickers.
When Nita Morales hires Elvis Cole to find her missing adult daughter, she isn’t afraid, though she’s received a phone call asking for ransom. She know it’s a fake—that her daughter ran off with the guy Nita will only call “that boy,” and that they need money.
But Nita is wrong. The girl and her boyfriend have been taken by bajadores—bandits who not only prey on innocent victims, but also on each other. Border professionals, they steal drugs, guns and people, buying and selling victims like commodities and killing the ones they can’t get a price for.
Elvis Cole and Joe Pike find the spot where the two young people were taken. There are tire tracks, bullet casings and bloodstains. They know things look as bad as possible. But they are wrong, too. It is about to get worse. Going undercover to find them and buy them back, Cole himself is taken, and now it’s up to Pike to retrace Cole’s steps, burning through a dark and deadly underworld to find his friend.
But he may already be too late….
Hardcover Book : 320 pages
Publisher: Putnam Pub Group/Member, Penguin Putnam ( January 10, 2012 )
Item #: 13-516995
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.813inches
Product Weight: 13.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
as always, mr. crais is at the top of his game!
Reviewer: margaret g
First, I am a huge fan of Mr. Crais. Absolutely love everything he writes. Would love to meet a Joe Pike in real life!
"Taken" was thrilling from beginning to end. I was so glad to get to the end so I could see how everyone involved was so intertwined to the kidnappings! The suspense was over the top! Thank you!
Reviewer: Mary H
Joe and Elvis are at their best here. Great story.
Outstanding although the details of trafficing can be a bit hard to take.
Crais never fails to entertain.
Although, I guess, it isn't strictly neccesary to have read the other Cole books,, knowing the depth of feeling and friendship between Pike and Elvis gives added meaning to the tale.
Bravo, Mr. Crais. Bravo.
I didn't want to finish because I didn't want it to end! More, more more, please!
Reviewer: Clara H