Bookmarks Issue: 
Robert Crais

A Joe Pike Novel

A-The SentryThe Sentry is the 14th novel in Robert Crais's Elvis Cole-Joe Pike mystery novels, which take place in Los Angeles. Cole, until recently, starred in the series; now Pike is at the center of the action. Recently reviewed: The Watchman ( 3.5 of 5 Stars May/June 2007) and The First Rule (4 of 5 Stars Mar/Apr 2010).

The Story: For almost the entire series to date, Joe Pike has taken a back seat to private detective Elvis Cole. But the laconic Pike, a former mercenary and LAPD officer, now finds himself in the uncomfortable role of being in the spotlight when he witnesses Wilson Smith, a refugee from Hurricane Katrina, being viciously beaten by a protection gang in his sandwich shop in Venice, an L. A. district. Pike, though his help is rejected, quickly sets his eyes on Wilson's enticing niece, Dru Rayne, and vows to help both of them. Enlisting the aid of Cole, Pike is pulled into a nasty, drug-fueled gang war, where he and Cole soon discover that Dru and Wilson are not who they seem.
Putnam. 320 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 9780399157073

Dallas Morning News 4 of 5 Stars
"The minor characters are also effectively--and economically--drawn, especially a slacker who provides critical information and a personable Latino drug lord who represents the modern face of organized crime. ... [Crais] captures the gritty beauty of Venice, where millionaires and Latino gangs co-exist, and works the Venice canals cleverly into the plot." Shawna Seed

Entertainment Weekly HHHH
"Crais' expertly tuned plot, always a pleasure, hums along. But the real joys of The Sentry are found in its characters, especially Pike, who--unlike Reacher--is all too human, achingly prone to making mistakes." Tina Jordan

Seattle Times 4 of 5 Stars
"In terms of a cardinal rule of suspense fiction--that things are never as they seem--it's Cole who sees more clearly. But if it's pure, relentlessly forward-moving action you're after, then Joe Pike is your man." Adam Woog

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"As in last year's excellent The First Rule, Joe easily bears the weight of a briskly paced thriller that looks at unconditional friendship, loyalty and life's choices. ... Since Crais' 1987 debut with The Monkey's Raincoat, this series has never faltered because the author continues to uncover fresh layers in his characters while maintaining nonstop action." Oline H. Cogdill

Oregonian 3 of 5 Stars
"Crais is an excellent plotter who never lets his story get away from him, but there's lots of talk and no real tension in The Sentry. As Cole and Pike move toward a shootout with the bad guys, a too-familiar finale in this series, there's never a satisfactory answer to a simple question: Why would Pike get involved in this case? For love? Really, Joe?" Jeff Baker

Critical Summary

There's no doubt that Elvis Cole is a winning character. But critics agreed that Joe Pike, who first abandoned his role as second fiddle to Cole in The Watchman, is a worthy main protagonist in his own right. Stoic, cool, self-possessed, and relentless, Pike not only complements his partner but gives the series greater depth and flavor. Most reviewers felt that The Sentry, like previous novels in the series, has a confident plot, fast-paced action, an insider's view of a multifaceted Los Angeles, and enough suspense to keep turning the pages. Only a couple faulted the plot and some contrived villains. Though it's best to start at the beginning of the series, The Sentry is a good place to get to know Pike better, as well as an excellent entry in the series.