The Watchman (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series #11)
  • The Watchman (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series #11)
  • The Watchman (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series #11)

The Watchman (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series #11)

3.6 345
by Robert Crais

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Two minutes can be a lifetime.

Ask anyone on the wrong side of the law about the two-minute rule and they'll tell you that's as long as you can hope for at a robbery before the cops show up. Break the two-minute rule and it's a lifetime in jail. But not everyone plays by the rules. . .

When ex-con Max Holman finally gets out of jail, freedom doesn't taste

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Two minutes can be a lifetime.

Ask anyone on the wrong side of the law about the two-minute rule and they'll tell you that's as long as you can hope for at a robbery before the cops show up. Break the two-minute rule and it's a lifetime in jail. But not everyone plays by the rules. . .

When ex-con Max Holman finally gets out of jail, freedom doesn't taste too sweet. The only thing on his mind is reconciliation with his estranged son, who is, ironically, a cop. But then he hears the devastating news: His son and three other uniformed cops were gunned down in cold blood in Los Angeles the night before Holman's release. When the hit is exposed as a revenge killing and the question of police corruption is raised, it becomes a father's last duty to clear his son's name and catch the killer. With all the elements that have made Robert Crais one of the very best crime writers today, The Two Minute Rule is gripping, edgy suspense from the author who sets the standard when it comes to surprising plot twists and powerful characters.

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Editorial Reviews

After his stand-alone Two-Minute Rule triumph, Robert Crais returns with a barnburner featuring his two most popular characters, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. This time Pike is at the center of the action as he throws himself into the dangerous job of protecting the life of a spoiled, "rich bitch" federal witness. It just takes an ambush or two for the enigmatic cop to realize that somebody inside is leaking information that could get him and his contrarian companion killed. To outwit the plotters, he takes matters into his own hands by "kidnapping" the debutante songbird. High-octane excitement.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series, #11
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

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The Two Minute Rule

By Robert Crais

Simon & Schuster

Copyright © 2006 Robert Crais
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0743281616

Chapter One

"You're not too old. Forty-six isn't old, these days. You got a world of time to make a life for yourself."

Holman didn't answer. He was trying to decide how best to pack. Everything he owned was spread out on the bed, all neatly folded: four white T-shirts, three Hanes briefs, four pairs of white socks, two short-sleeved shirts (one beige, one plaid), one pair of khaki pants, plus the clothes he had been wearing when he was arrested for bank robbery ten years, three months, and four days ago.

"Max, you listening?"

"I gotta get this stuff packed. Lemme ask you something -- you think I should keep my old stuff, from before? I don't know as I'll ever get into those pants."

Wally Figg, who ran the Community Correctional Center, which was kind of a halfway house for federal prisoners, stepped forward to eye the pants. He picked them up and held them next to Holman. The cream-colored slacks still bore scuff marks from when the police had wrestled Holman to the floor in the First United California Bank ten years plus three months ago. Wally admired the material.

"That's a nice cut, man. What is it, Italian?"


Wally nodded, impressed.

"I'd keep'm, I was you. Be a shame to lose something this nice."

"I got four inches more in the waist now than back then."

In the day, Holman had lived large. He stole cars, hijacked trucks, and robbed banks. Fat with fast cash, he hoovered up crystal meth for breakfast and Maker's Mark for lunch, so jittery from dope and hung over from booze he rarely bothered to eat. He had gained weight in prison.

Wally refolded the pants.

"Was me, I'd keep'm. You'll get yourself in shape again. Give yourself something to shoot for, gettin' back in these pants."

Holman tossed them to Wally. Wally was smaller.

"Better to leave the past behind."

Wally admired the slacks, then looked sadly at Holman.

"You know I can't. We can't accept anything from the residents. I'll pass'm along to one of the other guys, you want. Or give'm to Goodwill."


"You got a preference, who I should give'm to?"

"No, whoever."

"Okay. Sure."

Holman went back to staring at his clothes. His suitcase was an Albertsons grocery bag. Technically, Max Holman was still incarcerated, but in another hour he would be a free man. You finish a federal stretch, they don't just cross off the last X and cut you loose; being released from federal custody happened in stages. They started you off with six months in an Intensive Confinement Center where you got field trips into the outside world, behavioral counseling, additional drug counseling if you needed it, that kind of thing, after which you graduated to a Community Correctional Center where they let you live and work in a community with real live civilians. In the final stages of his release program, Holman had spent the past three months at the CCC in Venice, California, a beach community sandwiched between Santa Monica and Marina del Rey, preparing himself for his release. As of today, Holman would be released from full-time federal custody into what was known as supervised release -- he would be a free man for the first time in ten years.

Wally said, "Well, okay, I'm gonna go get the papers together. I'm proud of you, Max. This is a big day. I'm really happy for you."

Holman layered his clothes in the bag. With the help of his Bureau of Prisons release supervisor, Gail Manelli, he had secured a room in a resident motel and a job; the room would cost sixty dollars a week, the job would pay a hundred seventy-two fifty after taxes. A big day.

Wally clapped him on the back.

"I'll be in the office whenever you're ready to go. Hey, you know what I did, kind of a going-away present?"

Holman glanced at him.


Wally slipped a business card from his pocket and gave it to Holman. The card showed a picture of an antique timepiece. Salvadore Jimenez, repairs, fine watches bought and sold, Culver City, California. Wally explained as Holman read the card.

"My wife's cousin has this little place. He fixes watches. I figured maybe you havin' a job and all, you'd want to get your old man's watch fixed. You want to see Sally, you lemme know, I'll make sure he gives you a price."

Holman slipped the card into his pocket. He wore a cheap Timex with an expandable band that hadn't worked in twenty years. In the day, Holman had worn an eighteen-thousand-dollar Patek Philippe he stole from a car fence named Oscar Reyes. Reyes had tried to short him on a stolen Carrera, so Holman had choked the sonofabitch until he passed out. But that was then. Now, Holman wore the Timex even though its hands were frozen. The Timex had belonged to his father.

"Thanks, Wally, thanks a lot. I was going to do that."

"A watch that don't keep time ain't much good to you."

"I have something in mind for it, so this will help."

"You let me know. I'll make sure he gives you a price."

"Sure. Thanks. Let me get packed up here, okay?"

Wally left as Holman returned to his packing. He had the clothes, three hundred twelve dollars that he had earned during his incarceration, and his father's watch. He did not have a car or a driver's license or friends or family to pick him up upon his release. Wally was going to give him a ride to his motel. After that, Holman would be on his own with the Los Angeles public transportation system and a watch that didn't work.

Holman went to his bureau for the picture of his son. Richie's picture was the first thing he had put in the room here at the CCC, and it would be the last thing he packed when he left. It showed his son at the age of eight, a gap-toothed kid with a buzz cut, dark skin, and serious eyes; his child's body already thickening with Holman's neck and shoulders. The last time Holman actually saw the boy was his son's twelfth birthday, Holman flush with cash from flipping two stolen Corvettes in San Diego, showing up blind drunk a day too late, the boy's mother, Donna, taking the two thousand he offered too little too late by way of the child support he never paid and on which he was always behind. Donna had sent him the old picture during his second year of incarceration, a guilty spasm because she wouldn't bring the boy to visit Holman in prison, wouldn't let the boy speak to Holman on the phone, and wouldn't pass on Holman's letters, such as they were, however few and far between, keeping the boy out of Holman's life. Holman no longer blamed her for that. She had done all right by the boy with no help from him. His son had made something of himself, and Holman was goddamned proud of that.

Holman placed the picture flat into the bag, then covered it with the remaining clothes to keep it safe. He glanced around the room. It didn't look so very different than it had an hour ago before he started.

He said, "Well, I guess that's it."

He told himself to leave, but didn't. He sat on the side of the bed instead. It was a big day, but the weight of it left him feeling heavy. He was going to get settled in his new room, check in with his release supervisor, then try to find Donna. It had been two years since her last note, not that she had ever written all that much anyway, but the five letters he had written to her since had all been returned, no longer at this address. Holman figured she had gotten married, and the new guy probably didn't want her convicted-felon boyfriend messing in their life. Holman didn't blame her for that, either. They had never married, but they did have the boy together and that had to be worth something even if she hated him. Holman wanted to apologize and let her know he had changed. If she had a new life, he wanted to wish her well with it, then get on with his. Eight or nine years ago when he thought about this day he saw himself running out the goddamned door, but now he just sat on the bed. Holman was still sitting when Wally came back.


Wally stood in the door like he was scared to come in. His face was pale and he kept wetting his lips.

Holman said, "What's wrong? Wally, you having a heart attack, what?"

Wally closed the door. He glanced at a little notepad like something was on it he didn't have right. He was visibly shaken.

"Wally, what?"

"You have a son, right? Richie?"

"Yeah, that's right."

"What's his full name?"

"Richard Dale Holman."

Holman stood. He didn't like the way Wally was fidgeting and licking his lips.

"You know I have a boy. You've seen his picture."

"He's a kid."

"He'd be twenty-three now. He's twenty-three. Why you want to know about this?"

"Max, listen, is he a police officer? Here in L.A.?"

"That's right."

Wally came over and touched Holman's arm with fingers as light as a breath.

"It's bad, Max. I have some bad news now and I want you to get ready for it."

Wally searched Holman's eyes as if he wanted a sign, so Holman nodded.

"Okay, Wally. What?"

"He was killed last night. I'm sorry, man. I'm really, really sorry."

Holman heard the words; he saw the pain in Wally's eyes and felt the concern in Wally's touch, but Wally and the room and the world left Holman behind like one car pulling away from another on a flat desert highway, Holman hitting the brakes, Wally hitting the gas, Holman watching the world race away.

Then he caught up and fought down an empty, terrible ache.

"What happened?"

"I don't know, Max. There was a call from the Bureau of Prisons when I went for your papers. They didn't have much to say. They wasn't even sure it was you or if you were still here."

Holman sat down again and this time Wally sat beside him. Holman had wanted to look up his son after he spoke with Donna. That last time he saw the boy, just two months before Holman was pinched in the bank gig, the boy had told him to fuck off, running alongside the car as Holman drove away, eyes wet and bulging, screaming that Holman was a loser, screaming fuck off, you loser. Holman still dreamed about it. Now here they were and Holman was left with the empty sense that everything he had been moving to for the past ten years had come to a drifting stop like a ship that had lost its way.

Wally said, "You want to cry, it's okay."

Holman didn't cry. He wanted to know who did it.

* * *

Dear Max,

I am writing because I want you to know that Richard has made something of himself despite your bad blood. Richard has joined the police department. This past Sunday he graduated at the police academy by Dodger stadium and it was really something. The mayor spoke and helicopters flew so low. Richard is now a police officer. He is strong and good and not like you. I am so proud of him. He looked so handsome. I think this is his way of proving there is no truth to that old saying "like father like son."


* * *

This was the last letter Holman received, back when he was still at Lompoc. Holman remembered getting to the part where she wrote there was no truth about being like father like son, and what he felt when he read those words wasn't embarrassment or shame; he felt relief. He remembered thinking, thank God, thank God.

He wrote back, but the letters were returned. He wrote to his son care of the Los Angeles Police Department, just a short note to congratulate the boy, but never received an answer. He didn't know if Richie received the letter or not. He didn't want to force himself on the boy. He had not written again.

Copyright ©2006 by Robert Crais


Excerpted from The Two Minute Rule by Robert Crais Copyright © 2006 by Robert Crais. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Watchman (Joe Pike Series #1) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 340 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
B&N, please take this off your website, the free book doesn't exist. Better customer service PLEASE!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Same problem...won't download. I see it in my library, but .....
omwnn More than 1 year ago
I have tried several times to download this book, does not show up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Elvis Cole sidekick, the enigmatic and dangerous Joe Pike, gets a high-powered starring role in "The Watchman," with The World's Greatest Detective playing backup this time. A reluctant Pike is convinced to repay an old debt by protecting Larkin Barkley, a spoiled young heiress (Paris Hilton anyone?) who rear-ended another car after a night of wild partying and is now on the run from both the mysterious accident victims, who suspiciously absconded from the accident scene, and the FBI, who seem to be hiding the real reason they want her in custody. Pike, with Cole's assistance, gets Larkin into hiding and goes after the bad guys - which may include members of the police force and the FBI - himself, setting a series of traps to find out what's going on. What I really liked about this book, besides the fast pace, colorful characters and vivid SoCal setting, all up to Crais' usual high standards, is the sensitive portrayal of the girl, who is far more than just a cliche of the pampered, spoiled celebs constantly overexposed in the tabloids. "The Watchman" is a welcome change of pace which tells us a lot about Joe Pike and the things in his past that made him who he is. Hopefully this is just the first in his own series. Also recommended: "A Stranger Lies There" - a hard-boiled thriller set in the desert around Palm Springs, it won the Malice Domestic Award for best first mystery. I actually discovered this book in an Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine review alongside "The Watchman." The review stated: "Santogrossi writes powerfully and movingly about a man who has paid for his mistakes only to find out that he's not through paying and never will be. An author to watch."
Glory McCarthy More than 1 year ago
Why so long to fix???
hockeynana More than 1 year ago
As of 5/28/2011 does not download. Shows up on my nook and "book" says download but it does not happen when download button is tapped.
sopranoIN More than 1 year ago
That's how I felt a few times in this great book with of course Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. I rated the book high because I love these two characters but I don't like ridiculous spoiled brats. However, I can't say it isn't unrealistic for there to be such "bratty things" and it meant I got to see a little more behind those sunglasses of Joe Pike...even more than Elvis Cole has. Great read again.
Tweenthepages More than 1 year ago
This might have been a good first novel for some newbie author, but for Robert Crais, the mastermind behind the wonderful Elvis Cole novels, this was just not on par. As everyone else does, I LOVE Joe Pike, but I'm not sure that God meant for Joe Pike to utter so many words. In this book, he's as tough and sexy as usual, but some of the mystery is now missing. Plus, toward the end, I was starting to wonder if Crais had allowed Danielle Steel to finish his book for him. The good news is that the real Joe Pike comes back in "Chasing Darkness", faithful friend and partner to Elvis Cole, where he belongs.
KARYL BRANDVOLD More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I downloaded this Free-E-Bok but every time I tried to bring it up on my computer or my Nook it gave a message of Technical Difficulty try again later. I enjoy the books of this author but do not understand why this was offered free, shows up in my library, but does not allow me to download or open the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Robert Crais books and love the Elvis Cole re-occuring character the best. Elvis dialog is unexpected and unusual private eye behavior/clothes etc. Readers have been anxiously awaiting (since LA Requiem) more on Elvis's partner Joe Pike. Finally he has his own book and true to his character- Pike is AWESOME. We can't wait for another Elvis/Joe book. Crais has built two characters that readers really care what happens to them both on the job and in their personal lives. Maybe next one will provide more than just a peek into Joe's private life. If you enjoy reading thrillers with an extra punch- you will enjoy this Joe Pike Book!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Crais never disappoints.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really think this author is a great storyteller. However, I did not like the young female character. She was a selfish,ungrateful,and childish girl. I found myself hoping the bad guys WOULD get her! If her character would have been more likable, I would have given more stars! I am plaanning on reading the author's next book!
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My2CentsIL More than 1 year ago
A good, but not great, fast moving book with some interesting twists and turns. I've read a few other books by this author hop-scotching between early and later offerings. While this book doesn't make me want to seek out other Joe Pike books, I'd consider reading another.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed the fast pace Crais puts the reader thru. Great story and love Elvis Coles sense of humor ill probably read one of his stories next loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
thatharrisgirl More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading thi;s stor;y, I thought the plot was tight, the writing ver;y tight and itk kept me reading long after I should have gone to bed. I liked Joe Pike! Looking for books from this author