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Book Review: The Watchman by Robert Crais

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The Watchman. Hard hitting, fast action, and bullets flying.

Native to the state of Louisiana, Robert Crais, growing up on the banks of the Mississippi River with his blue-collar family, discovered the writing of Raymond Chandler that inspired his love for the written word. He was nominated for an Emmy Award for his writing talents on Hill Street Blues, and is a former scriptwriter for Cagney & Lacey, and Miami Vice.

The Watchman, the latest book by Crais, spotlights Joe Pike, the sidekick partner of Elvis Cole from his previous novels. Joe Pike is quiet, disciplined, and deadly. A former U.S. Marine, mercenary, and ex-cop, Pike knows how to kill and leaves behind a bloody battlefield of South American bodies. He wears sunglasses at night, and has tattoos on his deltoids of arrows pointing foreword. They point forward because Pike never backs up. He is the ultimate alpha male badass character.

Taking an assignment from John Stone, a buddy from his mercenary days, Pike finds himself overseeing the safety of Larkin Connor Barkley, a young beautiful woman with an attitude as big as her bank account.

On a lonely night in the City of Angels, Barkley pushes her luck and her Aston Martin to the limit, speeding and blowing red lights. She has a traffic accident in which she eventually identifies one of the passengers from the wreck as a drug lord being hunted by the FBI. Wanting to do the right thing, she finds herself the sole witness in a secret federal investigation. This small event starts a chain reaction of gunfights and assassination attempts on her life.

While in Pike’s care two attempts are made on Larkin’s life, sending up red flags that there is an internal leak to her whereabouts. Pike then has no one to trust but Elvis Cole and takes matters into his own hands. He decides to do the one he’s good at, and that’s hunting down and killing the people responsible for terrorizing the girl.

Reading The Watchman in three sittings kept me up late wanting to know what’s happening next. This novel is the first one I’ve read From Robert Crais, but has got me hooked on his series. I just wish I’d started from the first book and finished them chronologically. The action is fast-paced, the setting absolutely real, and the dialog is great. Crais has a special knack for making his characters seem like breathing people.

If you like Nelson DeMille’s character John Corey, you’ll enjoy the hard-hitting, in your face character of Joe Pike.

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About Bill Bennett

  • Scott Butki

    Good review.My interview with Robert Crais has been published.
    I also link from there to a review in today’s Washington Post as well as having two other links that might interest you and other Crais fans.