Wednesday, January 31

The Watchman by Robert Crais

Review by Gloria Feit 

Robert Crais plunges the reader into the action from the first pages of The Watchman.  In a well-plotted novel which brings the welcome return of Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, the book reverses their usual roles, with Cole, the p.i. who calls himself the World's Greatest Detective, playing back-up to Pike, ex-cop and former mercenary, who has been hired to protect a 22-year-old girl who is in Witness Protection before an impending grand jury investigation.  The body count starts to mount early and rapidly.  Joe Pike is on the case, and Robert Crais fans will be pleased.  Several attempts are made on the life of the girl [a Paris Hilton-type rich girl, described as the 'classic LA wild child'], three before Pike is hired and two more in the first 24 hours since, and then the bad guys come after Pike.

Mr. Crais has in this novel has somewhat self-consciously given the reader insight into what makes Pike, variously described here as a "monster" and a man whose skills include the ability to rise "with the slowness of melting ice," tick.  He is, as always, enigmatic [though a bit less so in this book, with background details filled in this time], self-sufficient, but then again, classic Joe Pike.

The book is set for the most part in Southern California, including the Echo Park area most recently inhabited by Michael Connelly, an author with whose writing Mr. Crais' is frequently compared, not without reason.  My overriding thought as the book got closer to the suspense-filled conclusion:  This just keeps getting better.



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