Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The First Rule

The First Rule (Joe Pike Novels)
by Robert Crais
January, 2010
Putnam Adult

This is a tightly plotted story that moves quickly. The action starts with a home invasion where a man and his entire family including the babysitter are murdered. Joe Pike, the protagonist, is a former military colleague of this man. Pike focuses on solving this murder and extracting revenge for his friend. Along the way we encounter the Serbian mob, Crips gang members and the smuggling of Chinese weapons. As in most of Crais’s books, law enforcement (here the LAPD and the AFT) is characterized as incompetent and standing in the way of justice. Several characters from earlier books support Pike, but no real character development occurs. There are no surprises as the mystery is solved.

In this book Crais has turned away from his primary protagonist, Elvis Cole and focused on Joe Pike, Cole’s muscled sidekick. All of the attributes that make Cole such a likable character – a sense of humor, a full range of emotions, reasonable social interactions – are absent in Pike. As a central character he leaves a lot to be desired. His primary trait if you don’t count his vegetarianism is a penchant for violence. His lack of emotion, solitary existence and clinical approach to violence leave me cold, although I suppose his some folks will like his inscrutability and manliness. For me bring back Elvis Cole, “the world’s greatest detective”

In summary, good read for an airplane or when you need to escape for a couple of hours.


Carole said...

I was planning to read this but now I may reconsider. I liked Joe Pike as a sidekick but wasn't sure about him as the "leading man"; your review reinforces that concern.

It is one of the issues I have with Lee Child's Jack Reacher books...all about the violence and I can't relate to the lead.

I really need to like the main character.

Rebecca Glenn said...

Thanks for this review--I came to it from Cym Lowell's Book Review Wednesdays.

I agree somewhat, but I do still love Joe Pike. I thought the first Joe-centric novel (was that The Watchman? I think...) was much juicier.

But Elvis...ah, Elvis.

I blog at http://thebookfrog.blogspot.com Hope you'll stop by sometime! (My entry for Book Review Wednesdays this week was a review of the gorgeous post-apocalyptic novel The Reapers Are the Angels, by Alden Bell.

Julie said...

A mystery with no surprises isn't a mystery, is it? :) Thanks for the honest review. I came over from Cym's party.

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries