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The crazy reading spree continues...
Last night I read the novel The Watchman, by Robert Crais. His main character is Joe Pike, an ex-Marine, ex-cop and current bad-ass private investigator. In this novel, Pike is tasked with protecting a young super-rich wild woman named Larkin (think Paris Hilton) who was involved in a car accident. After the accident, attempts on her life began for reasons that are initially unclear. Pike is the strong, silent type, skilled in combat techniques and multiple martial arts. Larkin is a spoiled, attention-starved young woman who is in far, far over her head. In between the multiple attempts to kill her, we learn more about her and about the man protecting her.
This book is far different from the cozy mysteries I have blogged about thus far. There is plenty of action and a lot of violence. There are also an intriguing plot and very well-developed characters. The current action is woven together with flashbacks to both his time as a boy with an abusive father and as a fresh young “boot” right out of the police academy, riding with his training officer. These serve to flesh out the character that is Joe Pike and also to build suspense. The person who recommended Pike for the Larkin assignment is his old mentor, Bud Flynn, who was his training officer when he began as a police officer. Information is being leaked to the bad guys, and Pike struggles with the idea that the leak could be his old friend, the father-figure he never had. I won’t tell you how that turns out, because I hate spoilers. But it adds a frisson of emotional tension that is very effective in moving the story forward.
Pike is assisted in his endeavors by his partner, Elvis Cole. I think some of Crais’ other novels feature Cole as the main character, and I will definitely be looking for those. Elvis is a smart, smart-mouthed, very savvy investigator. He is the brains to Pike’s brawn – not that Pike is an intellectual slouch, by any means. He brings a warmer humanity to this novel in the face of Pike’s close-mouthed determination.
It was a pleasure to see the character of Larkin growing through the course of this novel. In the beginning she is little more than a whining brat. In her defense, she is a terrified whining brat, whose one attempt in life to do something to benefit someone else has blown up in her face. By the end she has come to realize many things about herself, her relationship with her father, and her place in the world. She has also fallen head over heels for Joe Pike. The worst part of this book was when I got into the middle of an action scene and realized that 30 pages of the book were MISSING from my copy! I groaned and considered putting it aside until I could go to the library and get a complete copy. It is a testament to the power of this book that I opted to figure out the missing pages later, so I could get to the end.
Robert Crais is now at the top of my must-read list. I have a feeling I will be seeing a lot more of those two tough guys, Joe Pike and Elvis Cole.