The First Rule (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series #13) [NOOK Book]


When Frank Meyer and his family are executed in their home, the police begin investigating the secret life they're sure Meyer had. Joe Pike's on a hunt of his own: to clear his friend's name, and to punish the people who murdered him. What starts out as a simple trail gets twisted fast by old grudges, double crosses, blood vengeance, and a crime so terrible even Pike and his ...
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The First Rule (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series #13)

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When Frank Meyer and his family are executed in their home, the police begin investigating the secret life they're sure Meyer had. Joe Pike's on a hunt of his own: to clear his friend's name, and to punish the people who murdered him. What starts out as a simple trail gets twisted fast by old grudges, double crosses, blood vengeance, and a crime so terrible even Pike and his partner Elvis Cole have no way to measure it.

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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

  • ISBN-13: 9781101163283
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/12/2010
  • Series: Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series , #13
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 14,353
  • File size: 427 KB

Meet the Author

Robert Crais
Robert Crais is the 2006 recipient of the Ross Macdonald Literary Award. He is the author of many New York Times bestsellers, most recently The First Rule. He lives in Los Angeles.


Los Angeles is known as the city of dreams, largely because so many Americans dream of breaking into the Hollywood film and television industry. In 1976, Robert Crais went west from Louisiana to pursue that very dream. As it turned out, he became one of the lucky few to break into the industry in a big way. Crais has since written for such hugely popular TV shows as Quincy, Cagney and Lacey, Miami Vice, Hill Street Blues, and L.A. Law, just to name a few. However, after achieving such success (which included a prestigious Emmy nomination) in a business that so many would give everything to break into, Robert Crais decided to step away and pursue his true dream. Frustrated by the collaborative process that comes with screenwriting, and inspired by pulp-pioneers such as Raymond Chandler, Crais became a mystery novelist. With his massively popular Elvis Cole/Joe Pike mysteries series, it seems as though success has a funny way of following Crais no matter what he decides to do.

Crais published his very first novel in 1987. The Monkey's Raincoat introduced mystery fans to Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, a pair of L.A. private investigators who would become his most-beloved recurring characters. Crais's transition from screenwriting to novel-writing was an astoundingly smooth one. The Monkey's Raincoat earned him nominations for the Edgar, Anthony, Shamus, and Macavity awards, winning both the Anthony and Macavity for "Best Novel of the Year." Crais's publisher was so overjoyed by the novel's success that he encouraged Crais to keep the Cole/Pike team going. "I started writing these books to get away from writing other people's concepts, like TV and movies," Crais told Barnes& "I never expected to write these guys as a series...but the book proved to be so popular and the characters were so popular that my publisher wanted more." What followed was a series of bestselling mysteries, including Stalking the Angel (1989), Free Fall (1993), L.A. Requiem (1999), and last year's The Forgotten Man.

Although the series was not part of Crais's original plan, he still seems to hold the Cole and Pike team closer to his heart than anything he has previously written. He explained, "The characters have deepened, and I think they kind of reflect what's going on with me and the world as I see it." When asked about whether or not we can expect to see the crime-solving buddies on the big screen anytime soon, he said, "I think I would have a difficult time in the collaborative process when other people suddenly put their fingerprints on Elvis and Joe," further illustrating his personal feelings for his P.I. team.

As much as Crais loves his series, he does occasionally write novels outside of the Cole/Pike world. His latest, The Two-Minute Rule, tells the story of career criminal Max Holman, a recently released-from-prison bank robber who finds himself hunting an entirely different kind of criminal after his son is gunned down. The book has since raked in positive reviews from such publications as Booklist, Publisher's Weekly, and The Library Journal. While The Two-Minute Rule does not feature Cole and Pike, Crais fans will notice one significant similarity between his latest novel and his famous series -- the Los Angeles setting. "I can't think of a better place to set crime novels because of what Los Angeles is. Los Angeles is the main where the nation goes to make its dreams come true. When you have a place like that where so many people are risking their very identities, not just money and cash, but they're risking who they are because it's their hopes and dreams, when you have that kind of tension and that kind of friction, you can't help but have crime."

Fortunately, Crais will never have to succumb to such friction and tension since, for a success story such as he, Los Angeles completely lived up to its promise of being the city of dreams.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Crais:

"My first job was cleaning dog kennels. It was especially, ah, aromatic during those hot, humid Louisiana summers, but it prepared me for Hollywood."

"My fiction is almost always inspired by a character's need or desire to rise above him-or herself. No one is perfect and some of us have much adversity in our lives; it is those people who struggle to rise above their nature or background that I find the most interesting and heroic."

"Fun details? Like Elvis Cole, I have a dry sense of humor. Sometimes I am so dry that people don't know I'm kidding and think I'm being serious. I enjoy this because their reactions are often funny. Also, I wear beautifully colored shirts like Elvis Cole, only I was wearing them before him. People will say, ‘Look, RC dresses just like Elvis Cole,' and I'll say, 'No, Elvis Cole dresses like me!' I also wear sunglasses like Joe Pike, but not indoors and not at night."

"Elvis Cole wrote two episodes of television. No lie. It happened like this: I had written episodes of Miami Vice and Jag that were rewritten by person or persons unknown -- changed so badly that I didn't want my name on them, so I used Elvis Cole's name as a pen name."

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    1. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 20, 1953
    2. Place of Birth:
      Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    1. Education:
      B.S., Louisiana State University, 1976; Clarion Writers Workshop at Michigan State University
    2. Website:

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 281 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 281 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Crais does it again

    Once again Robert Crais brings Joe Pike to the forefront with "The First Rule". If you have ever read any of the Elvis Cole books, you have only gotten a glimpse of Pike. Crais has expanded what we know of him with "The Watchman" and even more now with "The First Rule". If you hurt someone that Pike cares about, you better make your last wishes known. One of the great things about Crais' characters is that they are not perfect but they do strive to be better.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Joe Pike "Rules"

    It is a good day when either a new Jack Reacher novel (by Lee Child} or, in this case, a new novel by Robert Crais hits the bookstores (brick or online). THE FIRST RULE by Robert Crais (2010) features Joe Pike (thus a Joe Pike novel) [again] and Crais delivers the goods with Pike taking on the super bad guys with his kick-ass approach and sphinx-like demeanor. Of course, Pike has friends on standby with Elvis Cole (greatest detective in the world) to go on the "hunt" to take on the evil of ex-Soviet Union criminal gangs operating in a world of guns, drugs, slavery, and triple-crosses of deceit. When the sit-to-fan ratio is high, you need Joe Pike on your side - and better yet, you will want this book at your side, if you seek the best of crime thrillers.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    super investigative thriller

    In Westwood, California, garment importer from Asia and Africa Frank Meyer lives the good American life as he reinvented himself eleven years ago once he met his beloved Cindy. Four men invade their home killing Frank, Cindy and their sons; the nanny survived but is in a coma. LAPD finds tattoos on Frank's arms that police detective Deets has seen before on private investigator Joe Pike.

    The cops assume Frank was dirty due to six previous invasions of homes belonging to criminals. Joe knows better even if he had not seen the man in a decade ever since Frank walked when his mercenary contract expired; he knows because Frank loved Cindy and would never go dirty because of her. Deciding he owes it to Frank to clear his name and to bring down his assassins, Joe and his partner Elvis Cole investigate starting with the nanny who they learn has ties to an Eastern Europe organized mob.

    As the cops warn him to stay out of it, Frank and Joe, not trusting the law to look beyond their nose, investigate by digging deep into the activities of local gangsters. They begin to understand a different ethics than their own as The First Rule of the mob is the only way to leave is in a coffin. Fans will fully appreciate the latest Pike inquiry (see The Watchman) that has the mob, the gangs, and the cops in a rare unity (using differing means) to persuade Frank and Joe to back off.

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2010

    Very Good but frequently annoying

    Joe Pike is a wonderful character; tough, gritty, and yet, likeable. This book does not disappoint in terms of either suspense or action.

    Two things, however, do disappoint. The plot involves organized crime involving Serbian nationals, and the chapters are filled with frequent and annoying references concerning characters speaking "Serbian." The problem is, there is no language known as "serbian." The language of Serbia is "Serbo-Croatian, sometimes referred to as Serbo-Croat." That is the language spoken in most of the former Yugoslavia.

    The second disappointment concerns constant references to BMW motorcars as "Beemers." Wrong. The BMW motorcar is a "Bimmer." It is BMW motorcycles that are referred to as "Beamers."

    Little things, perhaps, but details do matter.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book...........

    Love this book, one of his best.......

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2014

    Highly Recommend

    This is the first Robert Crais book that I've read and really enjoyed Joe Pike's character. Enjoyable reading.

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  • Posted May 23, 2014

    Highly recommended

    Another very good book by Crais - well worth reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2014

    Good but not Great

    This is not one of Robert Crais best efforts for the Joe Pike series. However, it's okay. I will read him again to see if he improves.

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  • Posted August 22, 2013

    Third or fourth? book I have read by Robert Crais. I love Joe P

    Third or fourth? book I have read by Robert Crais. I love Joe Pike, the tough guy, who cops the extreme attitude of untouchable, yet continues to prove that he is truly a good guy and one you'd want on your side!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2013

    Wat to go Joe!!!!

    Great story with a super plot! I love ole Joe and his bud Elvis

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013 turner

    Have discovered a new author.....In the same catagory as Patterson, kept me turning the pages. Then I had to get Suspect...even beter...sdo now an addictd to getting all of his books...currently reading Chasing Darkness.

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  • Posted July 19, 2012

    Great read

    The continuing story of Joe Pike's adventures. Also includes Elvis Cole.

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  • Posted February 11, 2012

    must read

    Joe Pike is great reading.Highly recommend.

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  • Posted September 19, 2011

    Action packed Joe Pike story

    More Joe Pike action in a fast paced book.

    Many typographical, spelling and format errors spoil the read!

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  • Posted August 24, 2011

    Joe Pike "Soft"

    The story line took Joe Pike the mercenary doing his normal follow the rules or you will be hurt. This story also includes a softer side of Joe. I liked the story and enoyed the plot. Onto series #3

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  • Posted July 22, 2011

    Good read

    My first book on this author and I enjoyed very much. ZWorth the time.

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  • Posted June 15, 2011



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  • Posted April 1, 2011



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  • Posted February 15, 2011

    Another grea book in the Joe Pike series.

    Funny, dramtic, and of course action packed. This book is just another great addition to the amazing Joe Pike series. Time to start number 3!!

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  • Posted December 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Just Too Implausible

    Crais has problems with making his protagonist Joe Pike into an infallible, unkillable God figure. The Elvis Cole books feature Pike as a shadowy, enigmatic sidekick. When he carries the ball, plausibility goes out the window. LA Requiem, Crais' best novel, put a human face on Pike, but he has moved away from that here. Unlike his heroes Chandler and Macdonald, Crais has never crossed the line from thriller writer to major novelist. I can only give this book 2 1/2 stars.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 281 Customer Reviews

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