The First Rule
A Joe Pike Novel
Robert Crais
G.P. Putnam and Sons

Joe Pike is one of the more interesting creations in the detective fiction / mystery genre in recent years. Part Hawk, part Jason Bourne, Joe Pike has tattoos of arrows pointing forward on his shoulders. The tattoos are a visual statement of Pike’s approach to life: always move forward. Robert Crais’ The First Rule is the second in the Joe Pike line of novels which started with The Watchman. Joe Pike was already among the top ten detective side kicks in the mystery genre before striking out on his own in The Watchman. Ported to the novels is the same approach to dialogue which make Clint Eastwood sound verbose. Kindle edition

In The First Rule Joe Pike finds himself investigating the untimely death of a friend while simultaneously defending his friend’s reputation against unsupported rumours started by a federal agent. Was Joe’s friend involved in gun running? Had he, after years of living a suburban life of ease, gone over to the dark side? As with the Elvis Cole series of books Robert Crais brings to the Joe Pike novels an easy to follow plot driven approach that had just enough character development to keep a human interest side without delving into the personal lives of the characters so much as to get bogged down. If you are reading a Robert Crais novel it is because the stories are tightly written, cleverly contrived and action oriented. The First Rule fits the bill. What is the first rule? Don’t get Joe Pike angry!

There is a curious unexploded bomb in The First Rule and it will be interesting to see if the girl with the tattoos shows up again. That isn’t a spoiler because when you read the book it will be a question you will ask yourself and it has nothing at all to do with the rest of the book. If you’ve never read Robert Crais The First Rule is as good a place as any to jump in with both feet.

Personally I would start with Robert Crais’ The Monkey’s Raincoat and the Elvis Cole series to get a better feeling for Pike. Alternatively bypass Cole entirely and start with The Watchman. No matter how you do it you owe it to yourself  to read The First Rule.