In Robert Crais' latest, The Last Detective, freewheeling PI Elvis Cole returns to team up with LAPD Detective Carol Starkey (from Demolition Angel) and longtime sidekick Joe Pike in the search for a missing boy. The child is Ben Chenier son of Cole's attorney amour, Lucy Chenier and he vanishes from Cole's Laurel Canyon deck while our hero prepares dinner just a few feet away. Everyone would like to believe the boy is just off playing somewhere, or has run away, but as time goes by, it becomes evident that something more sinister has transpired. Cole's phone rings, and a voice, cold and low, says, "You remember five-two? This is payback . . . We have the boy." It seems that Ben's disappearance is connected to events that transpired a generation before he was born, and half a world away. Elvis Cole served in the elite U.S. Army Rangers in Vietnam, and, in a mission gone horribly awry, was the only member of team five-two to survive a Viet Cong onslaught. But Cole received the Silver Star for bravery in that battle, so why would anyone want payback? It would be helpful, but by no means necessary, to have read one or two other Cole novels before tackling The Last Detective. But if you read the new book first, you will surely go back to read the earlier ones.

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