Near the outset of Crais's impressive third thriller featuring L.A. PI Joe Pike (after The First Rule), Pike notices two suspicious characters enter a Venice, Calif., sandwich shop. Pike, an ex-Marine and former LAPD patrol officer, walks into the shop just in time to rescue its owner, Wilson Smith, from a vicious assault. Pike soon takes an interest in Smith's niece, Dru Rayne, whose "smart eyes" and warm smile lure him into a lethal gangland battle involving La Eme, the Mexican mafia, and a Bolivian drug connection. The LAPD and the FBI both try and fail to warn Pike off, but PI Elvis Cole, the lead in nine other Crais books, is as ever ready to support his pal. Heartbreaking ironies, frustrated desires, and violent nonstop action make this a standout. Crais just keeps getting better at giving depth to the laconic Pike and the anguished Cole, who still pines for his lost love, Louisiana attorney Lucy Chenier. Author tour. (Jan.)
“The action...is intense and the body count in high.”—Los Angeles Times
“[An] expertly tuned plot.”—Entertainment Weekly
“A wild ride...fast-paced, engaging.”—Houston Press
“Jaw-dropping plot twists...page-turning suspense.”—Associated Press
“A testosterone-fueled caper.”—Booklist
“Impressive...Heartbreaking ironies, frustrated desires, and violent nonstop action make this a standout. Crais just keeps getting better.”—Publishers Weekly
Joe Pike has had his partner's back in 11 of Crais's 13 Elvis Cole novels. Yet in 2007's The Watchman and in 2010's The First Rule, Crais spotlighted Pike rather than Los Angeles PI Cole. Fans will celebrate as Pike is once again the alpha male. Stuff happens early on as the ex-marine, ex-cop, and ex-mercenary stamps out an armed robbery attempt. Pike's gallantry impresses Dru Rayne, and her lively eyes chip away at his hardened armor. During a second break-in, Dru is kidnapped, and Pike pushes hard to rescue her. This warrior bent on restoring order is cool in battle, but Crais avoids overloading his yarn with cinematic action. A creepy serial killer, Latino gangbangers, and nasty cops crank up the suspense. Lies and betrayal conceal the real bad guys, prompting Pike to enlist Elvis Cole's help. Crais's buddy system is alive and well. VERDICT Steve McQueen in The Magnificent Seven, Jack Reacher, and now Joe Pike: three cheers for testosterone! Stock up with multiple copies. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/10.]—Rollie Welch, Cleveland P.L.
Having taken on the Serbian mob (The First Rule,2010), soldier of fortune Joe Pike is ready for a slickly plotted encounter with drug-dealing Bolivians and their strongmen.
Stopping at a service station to top off one of his Jeep's tires, Pike spots two suspicious men entering a sandwich shop. Moments later, he follows and finds them beating and kicking the owner, Wilson Smith. Attacked by Pike, one assailant flees and the other is swiftly subdued and waiting for the police. But Smith doesn't want the police, and he doesn't want the medical care he obviously needs; all he wants is for everybody to leave him alone. When his niece Dru Rayne calls Pike the following morning to tell him that someone's returned to vandalize the shop, Pike realizes that keeping predators off Smith's back could amount to full-time work. Working his connections in L.A.'s Ghost Town, he arranges a meeting with up-and-coming gang lord Miguel Azzara, who assures him that Smith's attackers, Reuben Mendoza and Alberto Gomer, won't be back. So Pike relaxes enough to take warm, appealing Dru out for a beer and wonder whether she could become the special lady in his life. But the point becomes moot when another call tells him that Smith and his niece have vanished, and not simply because they left for Oregon until things cooled down, as Smith maintained in a phone call. Have they been kidnapped or killed? Why didn't Azzara protect them? Are the culprits Mendoza and Gomer, or other players in the shadowy game Pike's walked into? The high-profile involvement of Pike's ex-colleague Det. Jerry Button of the LAPD and Jack Straw of the FBI alerts Pike and his partner, Elvis Cole, that this case has always been about more than assault and battery. But they aren't prepared for a series of revelations that make every player's story suspect.
"War is what I do," Pike tells Azzara when they first square off. Roger that, and prepare the body bags.