The Monkey’s Raincoat by Robert Crais

November 12, 2015

monkeys raincoat Plot summary (from the publisher): The novel that introduced Elvis Cole, L.A. Private Eye and his partner, Joe Pike.

Ellen Lang walks into Cole’s Disney-Deco office and hires Elvis to find her missing husband and son. Elvis and Joe’s search through Hollywood leads them to a world of drugs, sex, and murder.

Warning: Spoilers below!


  • Joe Pike seems like a pretty cool character. Silent and strong taken to the extreme, for sure, but for some reason he came off as less of a caricature than Elvis. I think he’ll end up being the star in this partnership.
  • This was not a bad first entry for a series. From what I understand, the last Cole/Pike book was published in 2011 (this one hit the shelves in 1988), which is a good, long run for a series. I could definitely see the potential in this one.
  • The story was pretty straightforward and easy to follow. The author didn’t try to fill the book with twists and turns just for the sake of having a labyrinthine plot. Sometimes simple is better.
  • This was a very quick and mostly enjoyable read with only a few slow spots along the way.


  • It felt like the author was trying too hard to go for humor. Elvis’s near nonstop smart-ass act reminded me of Myron Bolitar, though I know Crais’s character predates Coben’s. All I mean here is that I’ve read too many books with these types of guys to be impressed by what a wit Elvis is.
  • What was the point of having Elvis sleep with both Ellen Lang AND her best friend Janet Simon? Was that just so readers could see that his “Hound Dog” nickname from Poitras was deserved? And of course there were zero ramifications for these actions, making the scenes even more pointless.
  • This book felt pretty dated, which I guess shouldn’t be a surprise given the fact that it was written 25 years ago. Still, the references to things like “finding a phone”, typing a document on a typewriter, and John Cassavetes were somewhat jarring.


The Monkey’s Raincoat serves as a nice introduction to P.I. Elvis Cole and his partner Joe Pike. The characters were tolerable and the plot, though not very original, was a sufficiently interesting backdrop that allows the reader to observe Cole and Pike in their element. I give this book 3 stars out of 5.

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