The First Rule (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series #13)
  • The First Rule (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series #13)
  • The First Rule (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series #13)

The First Rule (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series #13)

4.0 283
by Robert Crais

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"The organized criminal gangs of the former Soviet Union are bound by what they call the thieves' code. The first rule is this: A thief must forsake his mother, father, brothers, and sisters. He must have no family - no wife, no children - because only other criminals are his family. If any of the rules are broken, it is punishable by death." "Frank Meyer had

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"The organized criminal gangs of the former Soviet Union are bound by what they call the thieves' code. The first rule is this: A thief must forsake his mother, father, brothers, and sisters. He must have no family - no wife, no children - because only other criminals are his family. If any of the rules are broken, it is punishable by death." "Frank Meyer had the American dream - a wife and family he adored, a successful business - until the day a professional crew invaded his home and murdered everyone inside. The only thing out of the ordinary about Meyer was that - before the family and the business and the normal life - a younger Frank Meyer worked as a professional military contractor, a mercenary, with a man named Joe Pike. Frank was one of Pike's guys, and they faced death together in every rotten hellhole around the world." "The police think Meyer was hiding something very bad, because previous home invasions by the crew had targeted only criminals with large stashes of cash or drugs. Pike cannot believe it, and with the help of Elvis Cole, he sets out on a hunt of his own: to clear his friend, to punish the people who murdered him." "A trail that at first seems relatively simple, however, very quickly becomes complicated, as the two of them find themselves entangled in a web of ancient grudges, blood ties, blackmail, vengeance, double crosses, and cutthroat criminality, and at the heart of it all, an act so terrible even Pike and Cole have no way to measure it." Sometimes, the past is never dead. It's not even past.

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Editorial Reviews

Patrick Anderson
It's a good plot, and Crais keeps it spinning with his accustomed skill. He's a stylist; his action scenes are not so much written as choreographed.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
When garment importer Frank Meyer and his family are executed in their Los Angeles home at the start of bestseller Crais's adrenaline-fueled second thriller to feature PI Joe Pike (after The Watchman), LAPD detectives soon connect Meyer to Pike, who knew each other from their days as military contractors. Pike is convinced that Meyer, who left soldiering to start a family, wasn't dirty, even though his murder is the seventh in a series of violent robberies where the victims were all professional criminals. Determined to clear his friend's name, Pike discovers that Frank's nanny and her family have ties to Eastern European organized crime. With the help of PI partner Elvis Cole (the lead in Chasing Darkness and eight other books), Pike engages in a dangerous—and not always legal—game of cat and mouse with some of the city's most dangerous crooks. Pike emerges as an enigmatically appealing hero, whose lethal skills never overshadow his unflappable sense of morality. (Jan.)
Marilyn Stasio
Whenever Robert Crais feels the need to refresh himself, he can always activate Joe Pike, a saturnine former soldier who performs id-like functions for Elvis Cole, the Hollywood private eye who is Crais's regular series hero. Pike calls the shots in THE FIRST RULE (Putnam, $26.95), a pumped-up thriller that takes its title from the guiding principle of Russian mobsters: namely, that personal relationships mean nothing in their business. Or, as one federal agent remarks: "Mom, Dad, the brother, Sis — those people do not matter." But personal relationships mean everything to Pike, a no-nonsense action figure who brilliantly—wages his own clandestine war on the hit men who killed one of his former operatives and the man's entire family, including the nanny, during a home invasion.
New York Times Book Review
Library Journal
When Frank Meyer, his wife, and their two sons are murdered in a brutal home invasion, it's personal for longtime family friend Joe Pike. "Frank the Tank" was one of Joe's guys back in their mercenary days, and Pike wants revenge. But he also wants to be sure Frank was clean, since this was the seventh in a string of attacks that targeted people involved in illegal activities. Calling on partner Elvis Cole for detective work and old contacts from his past, Pike discovers a troubling connection between Frank and the Serbian mob, and specifically with Michael Darko, a gangster of great interest to ATF Agent Kelly Walsh. As he designs and executes a scheme with nonstop action, Pike offers himself as bait to two deadly rivals. VERDICT Not a word is wasted in this suspenseful, hair-raising page-turner that also reveals the humanity of Pike, generally a stolid and silent character, as he mourns his friend's death. Crime master Crais (Chasing Darkness; The Two-Minute Rule) is at his best here. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/09.]—Michele Leber, Arlington, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Joe Pike cuts a wide swath through L.A.'s Serbian mob in his quest to avenge an old member of the team he headed. Years before he became a partner in Elvis Cole's detective agency (Chasing Darkness, 2008, etc.), Pike was a mercenary whose sharpshooting skills brought him into contact with a wide range of people, many of whom didn't survive the encounter. Now he's grieving because inoffensive garment importer Frank Meyer, a family man who shared some of the darkest scenes in Pike's checkered past, has been executed along with his wife, two sons and nanny. It's the seventh home invasion the LAPD has recorded in recent months, but none of the victims seem randomly chosen; in every earlier case, they had caches of drug money or product that made them natural prey. So the LAPD assumes Meyer has been continuing to lead a double life. Pike doesn't. Partly to clear his old mate's name, but mostly for revenge, he methodically sets out to hunt down the killers. Crais knows that the story of the lone vigilante going up against a powerful criminal organization is so familiar that he needs to supply new complications. These include a ten-month-old baby, a sweet series of deceptions and double-crosses, and a bulldog ATF agent who threatens to lock up Pike under the Homeland Security Act if he kills the man he's looking for. Not to worry, though: There'll be plenty of opportunities for Pike and his allies to ventilate lesser fry. Crais plants each twist carefully and detonates it expertly, but the main draw here is the triumphs of a killing machine licensed to avenge his old friend by emptying his sidearm at every target in sight. Righteous vengeance, a reckless pace, a stratospheric body count andjust enough surprises to keep you turning the pages. The pleasures may be primitive, but they're genuine.

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Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series, #13
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Part One



AT TEN FOURTEEN THE following MORNING, approximately fifteen hours after the murders, helicopters were dark stars over the Meyer house when LAPD Detective-Sergeant Jack Terrio threaded his way through the tangle of marked and unmarked police vehicles, SID wagons, and vans from the Medical Examiner’s office. He phoned his task force partner, Louis Deets, as he approached the house. Deets had been at the scene for an hour.

“I’m here.”

“Meet you at the front door. You gotta see this.”

“Hang on—any word on the wit?”

A slim possibility existed for a witness—an Anglo female had been found alive by the first responders and identified as the Meyers’ nanny.

Deets said, “Not so hot. They brought her over to the Medical Center, but she’s circling the drain. In the face, Jackie. One in the face, one in the chest.”

“Hold a good thought. We need a break.”

“Maybe we got one. You gotta see.”

Terrio snapped his phone closed, annoyed with Deets and with the dead-end case. A home invasion crew had been hitting upscale homes in West L.A. and the Encino hills for the past three months, and this was likely their seventh score. All of the robberies had taken place between the dinner hour and eleven P.M. Two of the homes had been unoccupied at the time  of entry, but, as with the Meyer home, the other four homes had been occupied. A litter of nine-millimeter cartridge casings and bodies had been left behind, but nothing else—no prints, DNA, video, or witnesses. Until now, and she was going to die.

When Terrio reached the plastic screen that had been erected to block the front door from prying cameras, he waited for Deets. Across the street, he recognized two squats from the Chief’s office, huddled up with a woman who looked like a Fed. The squats saw him looking, and turned away.

Terrio thought, “Crap. Now what?”

She was maybe five six, and sturdy with that gymed-out carriage Feds have when they’re trying to move up the food chain to Washington. Navy blazer over outlet-store jeans. Wraparound shades. A little slit mouth that probably hadn’t smiled in a month.

Deets came up behind him.

“You gotta see this.”

Terrio nodded toward the woman.

“Who’s that with the squats?”

Deets squinted at the woman, then shook his head.

“I’ve been inside. It’s a mess in there, man, but you gotta see. C’mon, put on your booties—”

They were required to wear paper booties at the scene so as not to contaminate the evidence.

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What People are saying about this

Jonathan Kellerman
"Robert Crais is a master, and The First Rule is a masterpiece: taut, evocative, page-turning."

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