The Watchman (Joe Pike & Elvis Cole) by Robert Crais

KK Conley Review

RC Watchman

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I wish I could have been Larken Barkley at twenty-two: beautiful, rich, carefree, and wild.

But all that money has not made her happy. She races death at three in the morning through LA’s deserted streets in her Tuxedo Black Aston Martin. She runs red lights, and tops 100. She slows to fifty-five on Almeda, a few blocks from home, and crashes into another car.

Lucky that she’s not killed, she shows kindness when she stumbles from her car and offers help to the other crash victims. But she saw something she shouldn’t have, and even her daddy’s money can’t stop the relentless killers now tracking her.

Enter Joe Pike, recommended to her father as the one person who can protect her. He helps her disappear.

I love Crais’ descriptions:

Her building was only blocks away when the air bag exploded. The Aston Martin spun sideways to a stop. White powder hung in the air like haze; sprayed over her shoulders and arms. The other car had been a flashing shape, no more real than a shadow in the sea, a flick of gleaming movement broken by the prisms of her tears, then the impact.

The girl was moody getting out of the car, making a sour face to let him know she hated the shabby house and sun-scorched street smelling of chili and episote. To him, this anonymous house would serve. He searched the surrounding houses for threats as he waited for her, clearing the area the way another man might clear his throat. He felt obvious wearing the long-sleeved shirt. The Los Angeles sun was too hot for the sleeves, but he had little choice. He moved carefully to hide what was under the shirt.

Okay, maybe Larkin isn’t all kindness, or in touch with reality:
     She said, “People who live in houses like this have deformed children. I can’t stay here.”
     “Lower your voice.”      

The book lets Joe Pike lead, and it’s well worth the time to read it.

Booklist Online Review

Larkin Barkley, a troubled L.A. woman from a wealthy family, finds herself under the protection of federal agents after emerging uninjured from a serious car accident. Something she saw warrants her death. The bad guys came close to success, probably with an assist from someone charged with her safety. Joe Pike, a former marine, LAPD officer, and mercenary, is hired to protect her on the word of his former police partner. Pike and the girl go underground after another attempt on her life leaves three would-be assassins dead. Pike then enlists his partner, private investigator Elvis Cole, to do the digging while he does the shooting. Cole targets a drug cartel’s money-laundering network as the source of the death squads and identifies Barkley’s father as the possible link. As the plot careens forward with nail-biting suspense, the similarities between Pike and Barkley become heartbreakingly clear. What could a taciturn killing machine have in common with a spike-haired, tattoo-on-her-ass valley girl? Every adult is a product of childhood, and Pike recognizes in his charge the same chronic emotional pain fueling his own lonely life. Saving her physical being is tough, but not as tough as saving her life. Fans of the Elvis Cole series have long wished for an installment focusing on sidekick Pike, and their wish is more than granted with this stunningly emotional thriller

— Wes Lukowsky

© Booklist Online

Amazon Description

A wild-living young heiress slams into trouble in the L.A. night—the kind of trouble even her money can’t shut down. After her Aston Martin collides with a mysterious car, Larkin Conner Barkley attempts to help the accident victims—and becomes the sole witness in a federal investigation. Whisking her out of her Beverly Hills world is Joe Pike—ex-cop, ex-Marine, ex-mercenary—hired to shield Larkin from a relentless team of killers. But when a chain of lies and betrayals tightens around them, Pike drops off the grid and follows his own rules for survival: strike fast, hit hard, hunt down the hunters. . . .

4.4 Stars, 400+ reviews

Goodreads Rating

4.1 Stars, 16,000+ ratings

Robert Crais’ Description

The city was hers for a single hour, just the one magic hour, only hers.

Larkin Conner Barkley lives like the City of Angels is hers for the taking. Young and staggeringly rich, she speeds through the city during its loneliest hours, blowing through red after red in her Aston Martin as if running for her life. Until out of nowhere a car appears, and with it the metal-on-metal explosion of a terrible accident. Dazed, Larkin attempts to help the other victims. And finds herself the sole witness in a secret federal investigation.

For maybe the first time in her life, Larkin wants to do the right thing. But by agreeing to cooperate with the authorities, she becomes the target for a relentless team of killers. And when the U.S. Marshals and the finest security money can buy can’t protect her, Larkin’s wealthy family turns to the one man money can’t buy — Joe Pike.

Pike lives a world away from the palaces of Beverly Hills. He’s an ex-cop, ex-Marine, ex-mercenary who owes a bad man a favor, and that favor is to keep Larkin alive. The one upside of the job is reuniting with Bud Flynn, Pike’s LAPD training officer, and a man Pike reveres as a father. The downside is Larkin Barkley, who is the uncontrollable cover girl for self-destruction — and as deeply alone as Pike.

Pike commits himself to protecting the girl, but when they immediately come under fire, he realizes someone is selling them out. In defiance of Bud and the authorities, Pike drops off the grid with the girl and follows his own rules of survival: strike fast, hit hard, hunt down the hunters. With the help of private investigator Elvis Cole, Pike uncovers a web of lies and betrayals, and the stunning revelation that even the cops are not who they seem. As the body count rises, Pike’s biggest threat might come from the girl herself, a lost soul in the City of Angels, determined to destroy herself unless Joe Pike can teach her the value of life…and love.