Since I discovered Robert Crais's books five years ago, and in particular the Elvis Cole P.I. series, I've taken a huge shine to one of his characters, Joe Pike. Joe is Elvis's sidekick, his silent partner in the P.I. business, and a close friend who often comes to Elvis's rescue. Joe is a former L.A. cop, a former U.S. Marine scout/sniper, part of Force Recon's hunter/killer team, a mercenary, and an all round, bad-ass dude. With weapons or bare hands, you do not want to mess with Joe Pike. In an earlier novel, we glimpsed Joe's childhood and his abusive father, and in almost every Elvis Cole novel, we see Joe at work, silently stalking and taking care of the bad guys.
But in THE WATCHMAN, Crais's latest work published this spring, Joe Pike is revealed like never before. In fact, Crais calls THE WATCHMAN his "first Joe Pike novel." We stay inside Joe's head for chapters and chapters at a time. We understand why cleaning his guns is so important to him. He learn exactly why he left the LAPD. He see and hear his reactions to all kinds of outside stimuli, including a young, beautiful woman who is at the center of this story.
Joe's feelings about her will surprise you.
And this is Joe's story, top to bottom. Elvis pitches in, of course, and there are scenes with our favorite horny forensics examiner, John Chen. Even the girl gets a chapter or two of her own. But this is Joe's adventure, a man trying to protect a young woman from drug dealers, bad cops, crooked lawyers, and maybe even her father. Joe has to kill at least nine different bad guys before the outcome is decided.
For us Joe Pike fans, THE WATCHMAN is the book we've been waiting for. It's one of the best darn crime books I've ever enjoyed, and certainly my pick for best fiction of the year.
Thank you, Mr. Crais. Please keep'em coming.
P.S. -- That's Robert Crais on the left, and guess who on the right. That's right, TFA actually sat at the same table with Mr. Crais last June in Boise, Idaho, at Murder in the Grove, a mystery convention for fans and authors. Crais and TFA both answered some mystery fan questions about funny things that happened on the way to bookstore. TFA wrote a little piece on his time with Crais. I've put a link up at the top right hand column if you'd like to check that out.