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The Early Bird: New Books for the Week of January 10, 2011

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Not much new, just a few,
a lot’ll be slim pickens
But as 2-0-1-1 marches on,
the plot’ll surely thicken.
(Apologies of sorts to Richard Armour)

The Sentry (Joe Pike Series #3)
by Robert Crais

Ladies and Gentlemen — Elvis has left top billing. Joe Pike, having partnered with Elvis Cole in 11 of Robert Crais’s 13 novels, has mostly taken a secondary lead in the past. 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 once again steps up as the main character in The Sentry…

The day was packing heat and cracking wise on another day in Southern California paradise when ex-Marine and former LAPD cop Joe Pike walks into a sandwich shop just in time to rescue its owner, Wilson Smith, from a vicious assault. The multi-tasking Pike soon enough takes an interest in Smith’s niece, Dru Rayne, whose captivating smile and “smart eyes” entice him further into intervening and breaking up a gang shakedown involving La Eme, the Mexican mafia, and a Bolivian drug connection. Though the LAPD and the FBI both try and fail to warn Pike off, Pike and Elvis soon learn there’s something about Dru and Wilson that doesn’t quite ring true. Even as he’s negotiating a truce with the treacherous leader of the pack, Pike discovers that Dru is likely not as naïve and innocent as she lets on.

During a second break-in, Dru is kidnapped, while action, suspense, and a little Pike-to-the-rescue adventure ensues. A sinister serial killer, Latino gangbangers, and nasty cops crank up the white-knuckler apprehension and packs-a-wallop testosterone and tension. Deceit and disloyalty conceal the real bad guys, prompting Pike to enlist Elvis Cole’s full help in this ever-involving and promising thriller.

This character-centered focus driving the action in The Sentry specifically is a Crais characteristic is general  “My fiction is almost always inspired by a character’s need or desire to rise above him-or herself,” Crais has said. “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.”

MORE FICTION

All Just Glass
by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Tiger’s Curse (The Tiger’s Curse Series #1)
by Colleen Houck

The Inner Circle
by Brad Meltzer

The Border Lords (Charlie Hood Series #4)
by T. Jefferson Parker

Across the Universe
by Beth Revis

Clara and Mr. Tiffany
by Susan Vreeland

NONFICTION

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
by Amy Chua

How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance
by Parag Khanna

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
by Wes Moore

About Gordon Hauptfleisch