Monday, April 22, 2019

Book Review: The Sentry by Robert Crais (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike #14)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Development on Pike, fast paced plot
Cons: Could have toned down language and violence
The Bottom Line:
A fast-paced thrill ride
Bit too much violence, language
Still, fans will enjoy

Wrong Place, Wrong Time – But for Whom?

I am inching closer to being up to date on the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series.  As I do, I am noticing that the humor in the earlier books that helped make them enjoyable for me is missing as each entry seems to get more hard boiled.  Yet I still enjoyed my time with this duo in The Sentry.

It all started because Joe Pike stopped to put air in his tires.  While he is at the service station, he notices two suspicious men about to enter a sandwich stop across the street.  Pike follows them and stops them from beating up the owner, Wilson Smith.  When Pike is waiting to talk to the police, he meets Wilson’s niece, Dru Rayne.  Wilson and Dru have resettled in California, trying to put their lives back together after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina five years ago.  Joe is drawn to Dru, so he gives her his number in case anything else does.

The two men Pike interrupted were members of a notorious gang, and they return for revenge.  When Pike brings his friend and partner Elvis Cole into the case, Elvis begins to uncover clues that things aren’t quite what they appear to be.  What has the innocent act of stopping at a service station and doing a good deed gotten the duo into?

Thanks to the multiple view point storytelling and the prologue, we have a sense what else is really going on before Pike and Cole do.  Having said that, we aren’t bored since there is so much more than that happening in this book.  The action starts from the first chapter and keeps going until we reach the climax.  My attention never wavered.

Of course, the action does bring with it increased violence.  Yes, I know to expect that going into the book since I’ve read so many others by the author at this point.  Still, it seems over the top at times here.  We could have gotten the sense for what happened without the descriptions given.  Likewise, the language, while realistic, was also over the top.  Both of these are complaints I’ve had in the past, so this is nothing new.

While we get some scenes from a couple other characters, the majority of the story is told from either Pike or Cole’s third person point of view.  In the past, when we switched over to Cole in a book focused on Pike, we’d get first person narration and his old sense of humor.  Here, it sticks with third person, and we lose some of the humor as a result.  However, we still get interesting insight into both of these men as a result of this technique.  It’s why I consider this a book about both of them even if Joe Pike is rightly listed as the main character on the cover. While Elivs Cole’s development is interesting, I’m happy to see that Joe Pike is continuing to grow into a great character, following the trend of the last few books to move him away from being a one note character.  We do get to see a few of the recurring characters here, although most are reduced to cameos.

The audio book for this entry in the series was narrated by Luke Daniels.  There have been so many narrators at this point that I’m losing track of whether I’ve heard him before or not.  Regardless, I felt he did a good job bringing the story to life for us without overshadowing the story.

For me, this book would have been better if the violence and language had been toned down a little, but I realize I’m alone in that assessment.  Author Robert Crais has many fans, and any of them who haven’t read The Sentry yet will completely enjoy it.

Missing some of their cases?  Here are the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Mysteries in order.

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