three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
28-May-June-2007
By: 
Robert Crais
user_rating: 
0

A Joe Pike Novel

A-The WatchmanIn the gritty Los Angeles of Robert Crais, Joe Pike has always played second fiddle to his LAPD partner, Elvis Cole. Not this time. In The Watchman, Pike is enlisted to protect Larkin Barkley, an L.A. celebutante-heiress who turns out to be a bad driver. Hunted by assassins after she witnesses something odd at the scene of a car accident—one that was her fault, of course—Barkley is shuttled from safe house to safe house. She chafes at Pike’s protection before finding surprising common ground with her gruff, standoffish guardian angel. Although Cole waits in the wings to help his partner, this is Pike’s book.
Simon & Schuster. 304 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 0743281632

St. Petersburg Times 4 of 5 Stars
"[A] pared-down, mean, propulsive thriller with just enough tenderness for a glimmer of redemption, and just enough of Pike’s history to make him even more fascinating. … Just when you think this novel might suffer a sappy ending, he blindsides you with revenge that will make your blood run a little cold." Colette Bancroft

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Aside from the inspired action, the solid plot and the crisp dialogue, Crais also weaves in an emotional story about two adults trying to reconcile relationships with their fathers. … Crais again proves his affinity for character development as he digs deep to let Joe’s persona rule The Watchman, but not overshadow the series." Oline H. Cogdill

Los Angeles Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Though The Watchman lacks some of the depth and texture of Crais’ most recent novel, The Two Minute Rule, he makes up for it with sheer momentum. … This stuff is too much fun to be good for us, but Robert Crais is the dopamine purveyor of private-eye fiction." Will Beall

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 3 of 5 Stars
"In a way this is a buddy novel between non-bedfellows who are strange at the very least. It’s also a reasonably good mystery, although barring a twist or two near the end, most of it is predictable." Robert Croan

Washington Post 2.5 of 5 Stars
"I liked Pike better in his original role of sidekick, lethal and silent, with an aura of mystery about him. … Giving him a novel of his own was a worthy experiment, but Crais has done better in the past and almost certainly will in the future." Patrick Anderson

Critical Summary

Robert Crais wrote for the hit television shows Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, and L.A. Law, among others, so it comes as no surprise that his novels (including 11 featuring Elvis Cole and Joe Pike) have a hard-boiled feel and seamlessly incorporate cutting dialogue (see the recently reviewed The Two-Minute Rule, 3.5 of 5 Stars May/June 2006). In The Watchman, Crais maintains his reputation as an edge-of-your-seat plotter with a psychological bent, not unlike Lee Child in his Jack Reacher series or James Lee Burke with Dave Robicheaux. Although one critic wishes that Pike had remained an enigma and another cites a predictable plot, most agree Crais’s fans will take to this highly charged first effort featuring Pike. "Elvis will still be the series star," Oline H. Cogdill points out, "but putting a spotlight on Joe will make for richer novels."