Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: A different side of Pike
Cons: Dark; I'm not a fan of revenge stories
The Bottom Line:
Old friend is murdered
Forcing Pike into action
Revenge – Pike Style
When I think about Joe Pike from the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series by Robert Crais, I tend to think of a silent, calm man who thinks through every action before he takes it. Yes, he is a man of action, but not excessive action. It's probably because he is a man of so few words that I have come to that conclusion. However, we do finally learn what it would take to make Pike angry in The First Rule.
There have been a string of home invasions in Los Angeles, but the latest target was Frank Meyer. He and his family have been found murdered in the aftermath, and their nanny has been rushed to the hospital, barely clinging to life. However, this time, the gang behind the crimes has made a big mistake. Frank was one of Joe Pike's men from his days as a mercenary. Even though the two haven't spoken in years, Pike still feels that loyalty and sets out to avenge his friend. Can he figure out why they were targeted and who is responsible?
Now, just so my paragraph doesn't mislead you, the Joe Pike we see in this book is still the same Joe Pike we've seen in earlier books. Yes, he is driven by a desire to get justice, but he isn't going off halfcocked. He still thinks through his actions, but he is driven to take more actions in this book.
Elvis Cole, his partner in a PI business, is in this book, but in a reduced role. This is definitely Pike's story, and Elvis plays the supporting role that Pike played in the earliest books in the series. As a sign of that, the couple of small chapters we get from Cole's point of view are still told in third person, and his humor is missing.
Frankly, we could have used that since this book is pretty dark. And violent. This series is more violent than the cozies I usually read, but this one is more violent than most.
Honestly, this book played out more like a revenge movie than a typical book in the series. Yes, there was a mystery of who did it, but the twists weren't as big and felt forced into the story. I was ready for the book to be over before it was. Part of that is me – I'm not a fan of revenge stories so I was definitely the wrong audience for the book. But it was the next in the series for me to read, and I wouldn't have wanted to skip it.
Very few authors read their own books, but Robert Crais did the narration on the audio book I listened to. He did a good job, which didn't surprise me from the times I've seen him in person, although his characters weren't quite distinct enough to make them easy to identify at times. Still, I was able to follow the action as the story unfolded.
Fans of Joe Pike will probably enjoy The First Rule more than I did. It's not a bad book, but it isn't Robert Crais at his best.
Looking for more? Here are the rest of the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike mysteries.