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February 19, 2010 / C.T. Henry

Review: THE FIRST RULE by Robert Crais

Robert Crais is famous for his P.I. series featuring the amusing Elvis Cole; however, it’s his shadowy sidekick, Joe Pike, who captivates some readers (including me). After the critical success and huge fan response to Crais’ first Joe Pike novel, The Watchman, he decided to write a second thriller with Joe Pike as the protagonist.

The first 25 pages are fantastic!  A home invasion crew breaks into Frank Meyer’s house and kills him and his entire family.  When the police arrive on the scene of the carnage and identify Meyer as a friend of Joe Pike, the chapter ends with a sergeant addressing a senior officer:

“We just gotta figure out what to do about him.”

“About who?”

“Joe Pike.”

I will be the first person in line to buy any Joe Pike book.  Not only do I find the character more compelling than Elvis Cole, but he’s much more complex than Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and a handful of other supermen, which seem to be everywhere in today’s crime fiction.   That said, after a riveting start, the novel drags a bit, and the plot ultimately disappoints. I could have done without Pike getting involved with ATF agents and the whole subplot involving smuggled guns.  The scenes with Pike and a baby are touching, but why couldn’t Crais have written a simpler plot?: Joe Pike seeking revenge against the mobster who murdered his friend and his family.  He should have just focused on the theme of acting out of loyalty for a friend, instead of complicating matters.  While The First Rule is an enjoyable read, it’s not as good as The Watchman.

Verdict: GOOD BUT NOT GREAT (Translation: Recommended with some reservations)

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