The watchman

by Robert Crais

Paper Book, 2007





New York : Simon and Schuster, c2007.


Working as a bodyguard for a spoiled federal witness, Joe Pike hatches a desperate plan to disappear with the woman in the underworld of Los Angeles and turn on her would-be killers, an effort in which he enlists the help of private investigator Elvis Cole.

User reviews

LibraryThing member xavierp
In this book, the author continues the exploration of his mysterious character Joe Pike which began in earnest in the book LA Requiem (though it could be said that the exploration has been there in all the books). For the uninitiated, this is the first Joe Pike novel - Pike normally playing second string to the author’s main character Elvis Cole.

Joe Pike is an enigmatic character, while being a classic tarnished knight. He had an abusive childhood, is an ex-Marine, is a martial arts expert, is an ex-policeman and is a sometime mercenary. He is also very intelligent and capable of extreme gentleness and compassion. He is, on the surface, a similar character to Win in the Myron Bolitar Stories (Harlan Coben) or Bubba in the Gennaro/Kenzie stories (Dennis Lehane). He is there to move the story along, to take the actions our detective cannot/will not take - he’s the big guns brought out for extreme circumstances.

The Elvis Cole novels are known for their characterisations and the humour the author can bring to the story. he continues this in this novel. Pike is asked to bodyguard a spoiled rich girl and, as one would expect, things take a rapid turn for the worst. In this novel the plot almost takes second place to the characters and to the gradual drawing out of Joe’s backstory and that of Larkin Barkley.

Reading any Robert Crais novel is a pleasure and reading this one especially so. Joe Pike, already solid in the minds of the fans, is further fleshed out in this novel. The Daily Mirror said “Read this, then read all his others” and I have to agree. Unless you already have all the others in which case I say read them in order and stop jumping to the end.
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LibraryThing member Bookmarque
The tone of this novel was definitely different from those featuring Elvis as lead. The pace was faster and there was less ‘sniffing the daisies’ going on. Pike has no capacity for self-doubt and just acts. Elvis, on the other hand, is riddled with self-doubt and it changes the character of the story.

One thing that didn’t work out as well as I thought it might was the establishment of Larkin’s character. She’s portrayed as a party girl a la Paris Hilton on the flap, but inside she is much steadier and willing to slow and adapt to the new situation. Whenever she has a flare up, it seems like a false note as a result. Strange, but I never thought of Larkin as a flighty, celebutaunt. In the end she ends up seriously falling for Pike and makes the very adult decision to leave him be when her play for him falls flat.

In one sense I’m glad that Pike and Larkin (constantly referred to as the girl) didn’t end up connecting. On one hand, Pike needs to be solitary and focused. He can’t stand the distraction that comes with domesticity. And we all know what that does – it neuters; just look at Davenport. On the other hand, Pike is empty inside and it would be nice to see part of that space filled with something that can bring him joy and fulfillment.

Elvis made a few appearances and saved Pike’s butt just as Pike usually does in Elvis’s adventures. Pike really loves and respects Elvis and his abilities. He says that Elvis is the one person who’s inside persona and outside persona are nearly identical. He doesn’t know how he does it, but he’s determined to study Elvis closer until he discovers how it’s done. It was interesting to see Elvis through Pike’s eyes.

The plot unraveled as such; terrorist guy needs to clean and raise money. He contacts real estate guy B. Real estate guy B gets funding through Berkley company C. Deal sours. Terrorist wants his money. Terrorist doesn’t get his money. Kills real estate guy B. Still wants money. Goes after Berkley not knowing that daddy has no idea of this transaction. It’s lackey D who is engineering the whole thing. Lackey D sets Larkin up as the leverage point to get the money out of daddy Berkley. At first Larkin thinks daddy is in on it, but a dangerous and stupid move during a tense situation reveals him to be ignorant. Gunplay ensues. Bad guys are killed. Good guys are wounded. Lackey D escapes. Later, Pike and a friend hunt down and kill Lackey D.

I think this could be read as a stand-alone novel in some respects – it rehashes a lot of Pike’s story surrounding his time on the force and his time with Bud Flynn. It goes into great detail of his final assignment, shooting of his partner and subsequent resignation. He and Bud surprisingly work well together despite no communication for something like 20 years.

All in all, I prefer Pike as a shadowy, mysterious guy. I prefer Cole-focused stories where Pike is the back up. He doesn’t belong in the limelight when he performs best in the dark.
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LibraryThing member blueslibrarian
Joe Pike, a supporting character from Robert Crais' popular Elvis Cole detective series gets a starring role in this action packed thriller. Spoiled rich girl Larkin Barkley is on the run from shadowy killers after spotting an escaped fugitive, and strong, silent Joe Pike can protect her. Simultaneously on the move from the crooks, the cops and the feds, Pike needs to solve a complex mystery before time runs out. While the story does suffer from some central-casting stereotyping like the gruff, monosyllabic hero and the whiny, complaining young woman, the narrative moves along at a brisk pace and the action should keep most thriller fans well interested.… (more)
LibraryThing member jgetze
I didn't have much time for reading this year, but this was easily my favorite book. I've been a fan of Joe Pike's since my very first Crais, so this was a real treat. Very much Joe's story, and a non-stop suspenser it is.
LibraryThing member swl
Apparantly fans have been clamoring for Pike to get his own book, and this one reads very much like the result. I was talking to my brother who read this book last week and said that while he enjoyed it, he can't remember the plot. Well, yeah. The plot is completely superfluous to the point of this book, which is to indulge Pike fans in a long, taut, movie-trailer-like series of tableaus where he gets to kick ass and be inscrutible behind those dark glasses. If you accept that premise, then it's hard to find fault with this effort.

RC did a great job of setting this story up, going back a few books...Cole wrapping up his personal life and getting conveniently injured to within an inch of his death - he'll need a few pike books to recover.

And I think that's what RC does best: know his audience and respond to it. Two-Minute Rule seemed like a little reward to himself - leaving the franchise for a smoke, so to speak - and now he's back in giving the people what they want.

Not sure if there's enough Pike there to sustain a series, though. His demons from the past, only hinted at in the Cole books, are now laid bare and they're pretty flimsy to build a complex character on. Pike won't be able to sustain a love interest or grow fundamentally unless he changes, and that will take away all his charm.

Pike's the perfect sidekick, and I hope he'll go back to being that in the future.
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LibraryThing member MediaWrite
This is Crais's best book, and that's saying a lot (all of his writing is very high quality). Every single library patron I have recommended the book to loved it. The main character of the Watchman is Joe Pike, who appears in most of Crais's other books as Elvis Cole's partner (like Hawk to Spencer). Action, mystery, great characterization, great writing.
(Note: Joe Pike is very much like Lee Child's Jack Reacher--if you like Lee Child you'll love this book, and probably all of Crais's books.)
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LibraryThing member clong
My mom has been a Crais fan for years, so when the airport bookshop failed to offer anything in my typical reading genres I decided to give this one a try. I was disappointed.

Which isn't to say that this is terrible. It may be just the ticket, if you're in the mood for a mindless, quick-paced, "shoot-'em-up, "Lethal Weapon"-ish sort of escapism, with a made-to-order Paris-Hilton-trying-to-act-like-she-has-some-substance-and-an-excuse role. But somehow I expected more from this author.… (more)
LibraryThing member Joycepa
A Joe Pike novel.

Normally, I’m not one for the hard-boiled hero type of either police procedural or thriller. I do have my exceptions, however, such as Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch and Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus. Both series are so well written that they transcend, it seems to me, the genre.

I now can add Robert Crais’s Joe Pike/Ellis Cole series to the list. Joe Pike is a co-partner, along with Ellis Cole, of a private investigative agency. In a way, he’s your standard no nonsense, tough guy, hard a nails protagonist: ex-marine, ex-L.A. cop, and ex-mercenary. He has the entire skill set necessary for such a protagonist: go for 36+ hours without sleep, stand in one place without moving for 12 hours, drop a fly with a bronze-tipped arrow at 600 yards—the whole shmear.

Yet somehow, in this novel where Joe has taken on the protection of a Paris Hilton type figure, he comes out far more interesting. As does Larkin Barkley, the “wild young heiress,” by the way, and I am no fan of celebrities. I put it down to the writing, which is very good, and the plotting, which is also very good. Pike has an interesting background, and Barkley has appealing intelligence. I wouldn’t make such an extravagant claim as to say there is terrific character development within a novel that is clearly thriller-type entertainment, but there is some and it adds to the appeal of the book.

All the characters, from the protagonist on down to the major baddies, have distinct voices. This is not a wooden book depending simply on body count (which is significant) and gore and atrocities (of which there is hardly any) for its appeal. It moves nicely, its characters are appealing or repellent as necessary, and the plot resolves well.

All in all, a very good read and one that left me eager to read more in the series. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member seasidereader
Crais featuring Joe Pike -- what could be better? Unfortunately, The Watchman disappoints on many levels, and that's sad. I'm not the only one who fell in love with mystery man Pike in Crais' earlier Elvis Cole novels. He should have stayed mysterious. And Crais shouldn't pull improbable endings out of a hat.
LibraryThing member LisaLynne
Every sensitive detective needs a tough-guy partner to do his dirty woork, and just as Spenser has Hawk, Elvis Cole has Joe Pike. Pike is an interesting character, with his own quirks and demons to battle. Larkin is not quite the spoiled righ kid she seems on the surface (although I still found some of the ending to be pretty out of character). If you're an Elvis Cole fan, you'll enjoy this - there's a lot of expanding on Elviss background, his relationship with Joe and the way they started working together. If you've always like Joe Pike (and I always crush on the sidekicks), this is a great chance to get to know him better.… (more)
LibraryThing member ZachMontana
Totally engrossing crime thriller book on tape. Very well read by James Daniels. Joe Pike and Elvis Cole are great characters from Crais books and Daniels reads them well. This one is about protecting a young rich girl and finding out why someone is trying to kill her.
LibraryThing member DBower
If you like the Elvis Cole novels you will love the first of the Joe Pike books - if you haven't read any Elvis Cole this is a great option for a starting point with Robert Crais. Crais is a master of the mystery genre and a great read. I am now going to read the second of the Joe Pike books.
LibraryThing member creighley
Not the best of Crais's. Never could understand how the character such as Joe Pike would put up with the young woman.
LibraryThing member crazybatcow
I've only read the first Elvis Cole book, in which Pike was a minor character, so I wasn't sure what the characters would be like in the reverse position. Overall, the story was fast and furious. It wasn't particularly deep, or even very violent (though there is a lot of "talk" about being violent, but mostly it was just people getting shot)...

I wanted a replacement for Reacher and Pike nearly is. He's quiet and doesn't waste time being nice or talking when he can just act and get stuff done. I think the "relationship" between him and the woman he was protecting was just too jarring. The story wasn't long enough or deep enough to justify them having a "developing" relationship of any type, and, on top of that, the reader was lead to believe that the girl was young-ish, and Pike is middle aged, so it was creepy on that note.

All in all, not a bad book, and I'd read more in this series if someone dropped off a copy at my door.
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LibraryThing member camdavis48
good twists and turns
LibraryThing member lamour
Pike is asked by his former police partner to protect a young woman on whom three attempts have been made on her life. After another attempt is foiled by Pike, he & his partner, Elvis Cole, feel there must be a mole amongst the people who know Pike is guarding her. Following Pike's usual plan which is to attack rather than wait for the criminal to come to him, he & Cole use all their sources to find out who is really behind the attempt assassination and why. A drug cartel and terrorist funding are part of the plot.

In this story, we learn much about Cole's background including his abusive father, and his first years as a police officer and why he left the force to become a military contractor. Cole also falls in love.
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LibraryThing member Carl_Alves
This is the first novel from Robert Crais that I have read and I enjoyed reading it. Joe Pike is an interesting character, a bit strange and not exactly someone with an effervescent personality, but he was very different than your typical novel hero, and that's a good thing. The story itself is well done if a bit on the convoluted side. My guess is that the victim in the story is based on Paris Hilton, and I didn't find her to be very likeable. I also wasn't crazy about the possible love angle that the novel was brewing toward, but at least it never materialized. In all a good read.
Carl Alves - author of Two For Eternity
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LibraryThing member writestuff
Larkin Conner Barkely is carefree, young, and very wealthy. When she is involved in a car accident one night in Los Angeles, she has no idea the chain of events which will follow. Suddenly Larkin’s life is in danger and she is running from people who want her dead. Joe Pike, an ex-cop and ex-mercenary, is tasked with keeping Larkin safe…which is much harder than anyone could have predicted. When it appears that someone is leaking information as to their secure whereabouts, Pike takes Larkin and goes off the grid, returning to his own network of trusted individuals.

The Watchman is the first book in the Joe Pike series and it is fast-paced, edge of your seat entertainment. Robert Crais does not clutter up his novel with extraneous information – instead his writing is direct, plot-driven and high action.

I first was introduced to Crais’s writing in his newest novel, Suspect, which I loved. I went right out and bought the first three books of the Pike series and finally decided to read it.

Joe Pike is a thrilling character with a dark background. He reminds me of the protagonists which people Robert Ludlum novels – strong, fearless, and with extraordinary capabilities. But don’t let that fool you – beneath his cool interior, Pike has a heart and it is that touch of humanity which makes him not only a character to get behind, but one to love.

I’m eager to read the next book in this series.

Readers who love plot-driven novels with lots of action, won’t want to miss this one.

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LibraryThing member kenzen
Damn, I enjoy a cheap, fast thriller every now and then and this book delivers.
LibraryThing member NHNick
Although fairly predictable, I enjoyed this book. I liked Joe Pike's character and found the ending satisfying.
LibraryThing member LibraryCin
3.5 stars

Larkin is a spoiled rich girl who gets in a car crash and apparently has witnessed something due to this crash so that someone wants her dead. Joe Pike is brought in to protect her and keep her alive.

The car crash itself was a bit confusing at the start. It happened fast and I had trouble figuring out who was who right off! (And I still had trouble sorting out some of the characters later on, as well!) However, once I figured out the gist (even if I didn’t have the characters straight) of what was happening, some parts were fast-paced, while others weren’t as interesting. I really didn’t like either of the main characters, though, Larkin or Pike (mostly he’s called by his last name). I don’t plan to seek out any more books with Pike in them; I won’t necessarily rule them out altogether, but I won’t go looking for any.… (more)
LibraryThing member csayban
A good story, but it dragged in the middle with an ending that felt rushed. Joe Pike as a lead character seemed too one-dimensional to really be interesting. Not sure I will continue with this series.
LibraryThing member quiBee
Fast-moving story about Joe Pike being hired to protect a young woman who is needed as a witness in a Federal investigation. Things aren't as they seem. We learn a bit more about Joe Pike and his past and his motivations in this story. Elvis Cole takes a secondary role in this story.
LibraryThing member Tatoosh
The 11th entry in the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series is the first to focus on Pike as the central character. Larkin Barkley, the daughter of a wealthy developer, has become the target of assassins. Her father's private security arrangements and those of the U. S. Marshals service have both been penetrated. Joe owes a favor in return for help he received earlier in rescuing a kidnap victim and his marker is called.

Larkin is a very frightened rich girl who doesn't trust Joe and expects to be pampered and entertained. Joe is not even willing to engage in conversation, let alone entertain, and a bored and resentful Larkin does her best to undermine the restrictions Joe established for her safety. Add the fact that the government's theory of the identity and motivation of the person directing the assassination attempts is flawed and Joe's is in for a rough time.

With Elvis providing investigative service and Joe handling the paramilitary action, Pike and Cole attempt to protect Larkin and find out who wants her dead. And - spoiler alert - for once they manage to pull off the job without either of them getting shot.

Although not Crais' best effort, The Watchman is entertaining from start to finish. In contrast to some of the other entries in this series, the motivation and identity of the person orchestrating the assassination attempts remains a mystery until close to the end. This keeps the reader in the dark as well as Pike and Cole.

Crais' plotting is good but like most writers he seems unwilling to take on the challenge of a committed relationship for his central characters. Pike's personality is fleshed out in greater detail but he still remains an enigma. For example, why won't he talk? Here's hoping we see further development of the Joe Pike character.

As always, Crais' careful descriptions of person, place, and mood bring the story to life and his use of simile and metaphor is superb. They are the reason Crais is one of my favorite authors.
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LibraryThing member CSDaley
I liked the Joe Pike book a lot more than I thought I would. Nice change of pace from an Elvis Cole stand alone. Looking forward to the next one.



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