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The Sentry (Joe Pike Novels) - Robert Crais While stopping to air up a tire, Joe Pike sees two men beating up a restaurant owner. Pike intervenes, falls for the owner's niece, and gets himself and Elvis Cole entangled in an FBI investigation involving a street gang and stolen drug money. Only everything Pike and Cole think they know is wrong...

I'll be honest. I read one Robert Crais book before this one and wasn't completely sold. For most of that book, the Monkey's Raincoat, I thought Elvis Cole was little more than a ripoff of Robert Parker's Spenser and Joe Pike was a collection of guns following him around to do the dirty work. When I saw this come up on FirstReads, I entered the giveaway, thinking I'd give Crais another chance if I won. Sure enough, I won the FirstReads giveaway and here we are. What do I think about Joe Pike now?

My thoughts on The Sentry can be summed up with the words Holy Shit! Bad ass Joe Pike has some feelings after all and you feel for the poor bastard after all he goes through. While Pike is a mercenary, Crais doesn't make the book a mindless action-fest. The suspense builds slowly until the orgy of violence at the end.

The characters were well done, from Wilson Smith to Jack Straw, the FBI agent in charge of the operation. Even Jerry Button, the asshole LAPD cop, was a multi-faceted character. While I wasn't that enamored with Elvis Cole as the lead, he's great as a supporting cast member. Los Angeles as a setting was well realized. I felt like I could find my way around LA based on what I read.

Crais's writing rockets the story along. I devoured this four or five hours. This story has more twists and turns than a thirty foot anaconda, one right after another. Crais kept me on my toes through most of the book.

For fans of suspense and detective fiction, The Sentry is a must read. Looks like I'll have to start taking Robert Crais a little more seriously now.