four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
45-Mar-Apr-2010
By: 
Robert Crais
user_rating: 
0

A Joe Pike Novel

A-FirstRuleRobert Crais is a former scriptwriter for the television crime dramas Hill Street Blues, Cagney & Lacey, and Miami Vice. He is also the author of several standalone novels, including Demolition Angel, and the popular Elvis Cole/Joe Pike crime series.

The Story: Joe Pike takes center stage in this 13th blood-soaked series entry. Frank Meyer, a successful businessman, is found brutally murdered in his L.A. home, along with his wife, sons, and a young nanny, who is critically injured. Meyer, it turns out, was an old friend of Pike’s from his days as a professional mercenary, and he has long since lived a respectable, law-abiding life. But police believe Meyer may have been involved in something shady, and when Pike tries to clear his friend’s name, he finds himself battling a vicious Serbian crime lord with a highly developed sadistic streak.
Putnam Adult. 320 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 9780399156137

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"[O]ne of the better entries in the Cole/Pike saga, one that will satisfy longtime fans and make new ones seek out the earlier titles. But for all the well-written action sequences and snappy dialogue—two skills that former television writer Crais routinely brings to his writing—it is Pike’s more reflective moments that linger in the mind." Paula L. Woods

Seattle Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"The mayhem is graphic and unflinching, but the prose and storyline are as sleek and efficient as a beautifully crafted piece of machinery." Adam Woog

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"[E]xcellently plotted. … As always, Crais imbues his novels with an insider’s view of L.A., which has myriad shaded areas that the sunshine never permeates." Oline Cogdill

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 4 of 5 Stars
"[T]he plot is clever—and the ending a pleasant surprise. Crais’s many fans will snap this one up." Harry Levins

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"He’s a stylist; his action scenes are not so much written as choreographed. … Perhaps the most interesting thing about this novel is Crais’s decision to switch his emphasis, at least for now, from Cole to Pike." Patrick Anderson

Critical Summary

A long-running series often suffers from burnout, with tired characters, recycled plot lines, and increasingly unimpressed readers. Fortunately, this is not the case with The First Rule, which critics described as action-packed, ultra-violent, and very, very entertaining. They particularly enjoyed watching Pike take the lead and found him every bit as compelling as his more colorful sidekick Cole. Part of the fun in this novel is getting some insight into the past and psyche of the enigmatic Pike, but critics agree that the plot is also well-constructed, requiring Pike and his assembled team to make several different turns on their journey to uncovering what was behind the murders. Overall, Crais’s latest entry was hailed as one of the best in the series, with an adrenaline-fueled story that will keep readers on the edges of their seats.

Recently Reviewed

The Watchman (2007): In Crais’s first novel starring Cole’s partner, Pike is enlisted to protect Larkin Barkley, an L.A. celebutante-heiress who is being hunted by assassins after she witnesses something odd at the scene of a car accident. She chafes at Pike’s protection before finding surprising common ground with her gruff guardian angel. ( 3.5 of 5 Stars May/June 2007)