Wednesday, January 6, 2010

THE FIRST RULE - Robert Crais

First line: "Frank Meyer closed his computer as the early winter darkness fell over his home in Westwood, California, not far from the UCLA campus."

Joe Pike returns to the forefront in Robert Crais' sixteenth novel, THE FIRST RULE, when a man and his family are murdered during a home invasion. The man, Frank Meyer, happens to share a distinct characteristic with Joe Pike, red arrow tattoos on his deltoids.

When Pike is questioned about the murders, his mercenary past resurfaces. Frank Meyer was once part of Pike's team. Now Pike is determined to find out who took down one of his men so he can make them pay. A simple enough task for Joe Pike until the stakes are raised when an infant child being used as a bargaining chip is thrown into the mix.

Whenever you think that Robert Crais can't get any better, he publishes another book. Joe Pike has always played the part of an enigma. And while he still plays that role, Crais has given us a tiny peek at the workings of this mysterious character who spends most of his time hidden behind his department-issue sunglasses. Crais does not, however, let us inside Pike the way we are permitted inside Elvis Cole. The Joe Pike novels are written, appropriately, in third person.

One of the elements of the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novels that has always fascinated me is the relationship between Joe Pike and Elvis Cole's cat. I've always felt that the relationship is a reflection of Pike's closeness to nature and the ultimate good. The cat doesn't have all the gray area that humans create; it's simply a life of survival. Crais brings that even more to the forefront in THE FIRST RULE through Pike's connection to the infant boy.

On the surface Pike is a loner, but the reader who sees the Pike Crais has created throughout this series knows Pike may physically walk alone most of the time, but his relationships define him. In THE FIRST RULE we see his relationship to his "team" long after the team has been disbanded. We see his relationship to the infant child. And, of course, we see his relationship to Elvis Cole:

"Two seagulls appeared in the empty blue nothing outside the glass. Cole watched them float on their invisible sea, tiny heads turning. One of them suddenly dropped out of sight. His partner watched the other fall, then folded his wings and followed."
It's these relationships that drive Pike to smash "The First Rule" under his heel and hurl it into the Pacific.

Even at 320 pages, THE FIRST RULE is a one-sitting book. The plot is fresh and fast. Crais' penchant for witty dialogue and breath-taking writing has never been stronger. The only warning I offer for THE FIRST RULE is prepare to leave a bit of your soul with Joe Pike.

THE FIRST RULE (ISBN: 978-0-399-15613-7) is available starting January 12, 2010 from G.P. Putnam's Sons.


Naomi Johnson January 6, 2010 at 10:40 AM  

OK, this is my 3rd try at a comment. I don't know if aol is the problem or what. Very frustrating though.

This IS a one-sitting book, just like you said! Carolyn and I just got to read the TFR arc courtesy of John & Toni (they are so nice), and between the two of us, I think we finished it in under 36 hours. That includes the drive time between the store and our houses. Yes, I broke the speed limit.

That Pike. That Crais. That last scene. You're right, Pike takes a little bit of your soul in this one. But he leaves part of his as well.

Great review!

Jenn's Bookshelves January 6, 2010 at 10:52 AM  

Thank you SO MUCH for recommending this author to me. This is the first Crais I've read and I'm hooked!

le0pard13 January 6, 2010 at 11:57 AM  

Great review, Jen. After The Watchman, I thought I knew what to expect from a Joe Pike novel. How wrong I was with this one (Corey gave me the ARC he read). Riveting, surprising, and touching. I'm planning on seeing The Man twice this month. First, at the B&N he's launching the book tour with, and later on the 29th with our friends at The Mystery Bookstore. What a way to start the year! Thanks so much, Jen.

Anonymous January 6, 2010 at 4:23 PM  

I went back to read THE WATCHMAN at your suggestion and can't thank you enough! Between Joe Pike and Sandford's Virgil Flowers (ok I understand a blonde ponytail and Pike's bad-assness aren't the same but still) I have quite the imagination featuring these fictional characters...

Like you also said, Jen, the friendship between Pike and Cole is really something to read. I can't wait for the next Pike book (and yes, the next is also a Pike!).

Pop Culture Nerd January 6, 2010 at 5:38 PM  

You know how I feel about Crais and Elvis and Joe so I won't repeat myself here. I'll just say I'm happy to have fellow fans spread the word. My mouth is getting tired.

novelwhore, your Pike canon isn't complete until you read L.A. REQUIEM.

I want to see pics of you all in tattoos at his signings!

Jen Forbus January 6, 2010 at 7:26 PM  

Thanks everyone! You make me smile, Jenn. There's nothing I like better than to turn someone on to my beloved RC.

lp13, Naomi and I will be hangin' with THE MAN inbetween your two events. I just can't wait!

And PCN, I'm going to get lots of pictures! And if there's tattoos, we'll do tattoos...probably have goosebumps, too. Hope he packs his loud WOOL socks for this trip!

Anonymous January 7, 2010 at 3:55 PM  

OMG, you people with ARCs are killing me! I'm like a kid waiting for Christmas! (To hell with the fat man in red, when's Cole and Pike getting here!)

Jenn and novelwhore: My husband introduced me to Robert Crais' books and has regretted it ever since. Now, it's a negotiation of who gets to read it first! And PCN's got it right, you MUST read LA REQUIEM!

lp13: If all goes as planned, I'll get to see THE MAN, as well as our intrepid blogger, Ms. Forbus, when he make his stop in Dayton, OH. Looking forward to that!

Anonymous January 7, 2010 at 3:59 PM  

Whoops, forgot to sign my name to "OMG" post. D'oh!

(Nashville, TN)

Jen Forbus January 7, 2010 at 4:02 PM  

Ha! I was hoping that was you, Christine. I went "crap! Do I know who this is I'm going to see in Dayton?"

Won't be long now! Of course, I hope we don't have snow like we're getting right now. Keep your fingers crossed.

Anonymous January 7, 2010 at 4:31 PM  

No worries, Jen, it's just me and not some B.S. stalker! (snicker) We just got our first snow today. Not too much to make my fellow Nashvillians panic, but enough to make the bare landscapes prettier. Yeah, the weather's probably the one thing that could really put a wrench in the travel plans. Were you planning on driving home that same night after the signing? What's that, a 3 hour drive? Fingers crossed!

(Nashville, TN)

scholarslip February 24, 2010 at 4:22 PM  

This was my first Crais novel, but I've already asked my sister (novelwhore) to send me more! Though I unfortunately had to split it into a two-sitting reading due to classes and homework, it was definitely a thrilling read.

Christine February 25, 2010 at 12:47 PM  

Ahh, scholarslip, you must be the sister that novelwhore said she was trying to get to go RC's book signing at Books & Co. Were you there?

You'll have to let us know how you enjoy the rest of the series! Happy reading!

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