Joe Pike is the terminator. The Yang to PI Elvis Cole’s wise cracking Yin. Though dear old Elvis has been running out of quickfire cheeriness in recent Crais novels, so once again Joe Pike takes centre stage as the protagonist. Question is can big Joe cut the muster without appearing to be just another generic tough guy? It is a tough call, but loving Crais, you just want it to work no matter what your spidey senses tell you.
So what’s up in the world of Pike? Well he saves the day at an early stage naturally. This time out he is muscling gang-bangers, to protect a cute sandwich shop girl and her uncle. Then surprise, cute girl becomes a love interest, then suddenly the cute girl is not who she first appears to be then… well you get the picture and if you have ever read any of the Pike and Cole novels you can guess what comes next: cuts and bruises and a soupcon of emotional badinage
Crais is a self confessed Chandler fan, but in recent years he has been breaking free of the Chandler template into new and uncharted territory. This is to be commended. However the cardinal rule of Chandler is veracity to the street, and no matter how tough or teary eyed things get this has to be remembered.
Venice Beach, where the story is set is on the surface a sleepy surf city, where the stoner crowd, street crazies and beach front affluence meld seamlessly. It is also where a teen gangbanger recently shot a ‘concerned citizen’ dead, after being told to stop spray painting a wall. So if Pike is going to mix it up with gang-bangers and have us believe he is the man, he is going to need more than his trademark mirror shades and buff biceps to make us believe he is real.
But wait a minute, here comes a creepy twist. Confirmation if confirmation were needed, that no matter what Joe Pike’s failings, Robert Crais is still the man in the world of crime fiction.
Crais talks about The Sentry:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ5TOJUkoAA