Three years ago, 2007, I read Robert Crais‘ The Watchman, featuring Elvis Cole sidekick Joe Pike. Up to then, my experience with the character Elvis Cole or writer Crais had been relatively recent and limited to a handful of books. Just enough background to know that Joe Pike was Cole’s partner. A silent partner who did the job that was necessary and had no qualms about taking it to the limit.
I like Elvis Cole, a quick lipped sharp as a tack detective, but until The Watchman I had little feeling for Joe Pike, the enforcer, the muscle. That book would change that, jumping Pike to being one of my favorite fictional tough guys.
When I found out a few months ago that a new Joe Pike novel was coming out – I couldn’t wait to get The First Rule.
In this second outing, Joe Pike, former Marine, Cop and professional soldier, is informed and questioned about the murder of an old friend, Frank Meyer. Meyer and his family have been killed in what looks to be a home invasion turned deadly. This is the last in a series of six previous invasions, all perpetrated against drug dealers and money launderers, leading the police to suspect Joe’s friend might have been dealing with the wrong people.
Joe refusing to believe his old friend, Frank “The Tank” Meyer, had gone bad sets on a quest to redeem his friend and get vengeance for his murder. With the help of front man, Elvis Cole, and former colleagues from his and Frank’s mercenary days, Joe discovers Meyer and his family’s murder was more than a poorly executed home invasion, uncovering ties to a power struggle between local leaders of the Serbian mafia.
Joe Pike needs to find Michael Darko, “The Shark.” He needs to kill “The Shark” for Frank. For Frank’s family. To show who the real shark is.
Crais writes the Joe Pike novels with a quick direct style, as abrupt as the character himself. While there are no questions about Joe’s motives, Crais manages to reveal answers about Joe’s past and the cold hard man behind the emotionless silver sunglasses.
I hope I don’t have to wait another three years for another shot of Joe Pike adrenalin. The First Rule was worth the wait though, and like Elvis Cole, Joe Pike is a character I can depend on.
Next book on my list Severance Package by Duane Swierczynski. Interesting start.