Crais, Robert. Lullaby Town.

NY: Bantam,1992.

This is only the third installment of the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike private detective series and the body count continues to rise. This time he’s hired by Peter Alan Nelsen, a very famous movie director/producer, to locate the man’s ex-wife, Karen, and his now twelve-year-old son, Toby, whom he hasn’t seen in a decade. Nelsen is an egomaniac; he gets whatever he wants in Hollywood, so he assumes he’s entitled to it and that this also extends to the rest of the world.

Elvis locates the ex, now calling herself “Karen Lloyd,” in a small town in Connecticut and has to make the journey to New York, which doesn’t thrill him particularly. Karen, naturally, could not care less about what Peter Alan Nelsen wants, but Cole has a feeling there’s something wrong there, so he settles in to explore her life — and discovers she has unintentionally gotten involved in money laundering for the Mob. Can Cole, with Pike’s help, spring her loose from the Mafia? Can he and Karen handle the interfering Peter Alan Nelsen?

There’s some good writing here — the overcast in New York is “so thick and so dark it looked like a casket lining” — but the action-filled plot comes across as comic-book-ish. A capo so over the top and out of control as Sal DeLuca would never have gotten that high in the organization to begin with. And the NYPD wouldn’t casually give the Dynamic Duo a pass on the public slaughter of so many Mafia soldiers, even if they are theoretically the Bad Guys. Also, even way back in the ’90s, I don’t think a mafioso pinching forty grand would be that big a deal. They were routinely dealing in millions every month even then.

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