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.
As the subtitle suggests, Joe Pike, the intriguing, enigmatic partner of L.A. PI Elvis Cole, takes center stage in this intense thriller from bestseller Crais (The Two Minute Rule). To pay back an old debt, Pike is coerced into protecting Larkin Barkley, a hard-partying young heiress whose life is in danger after a "wrong place wrong time" encounter that quickly escalates and spins out of control. The enemy is shadowy, violent and relentless--but the fierce, focused Pike, one of the strongest characters in modern crime fiction, is equal to the challenge. The breathless pace and rich styling are sure to appeal to readers of hard-boiled fiction in general, but since up to now Pike has mostly remained in the background, some fans of the Elvis Cole series (The Forgotten Man, etc.) may find the explicit picture that emerges of Pike at odds with the image they've constructed for themselves. (Mar.) Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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1 . Action packed and very well written.
Posted February 10, 2010 by Frank , McHenryRobert Crais has quickly become one of my favorite authors. Pike's character is very well written and is one to be reckoned with leaving you constantly wondering what he'll do next. The twists and turns in this book will keep you on your toes and turning pages to the very end.
Simon & Schuster
February 27, 2007
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Excerpt from The Watchman by Robert Crais
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.
She said, "People who live in houses like this have deformed children. I can't stay here."
"Lower your voice."
"I haven't eaten all day. I didn't eat yesterday and now this smell is making me feel strange."
"We'll eat when we're safe."
The house opened as the girl joined him, and the woman Bud told him to expect appeared: a squat woman with large white teeth and friendly eyes named Imelda Arcano. Mrs. Arcano managed several apartment houses and single-family rentals in Eagle Rock, and Bud's office had dealt with her before. He hoped she wouldn't notice the four neat holes that had been punched into their fender the night before.
He turned his back to the house to speak with the girl.
"The attitude makes you memorable. Lose it. You want to be invisible."
"Why don't I wait in the car?"
Leaving her was unthinkable.
"Let me handle her."
The girl laughed.
"That would be you all over it. I want to see that, you handling her. I want to see you charm her."
He took the girl's arm and headed toward the house. To her credit, the girl fell in beside him without making a scene, slouching to change her posture the way he had shown her. Even with her wearing the oversize sunglasses and Dodgers cap, he wanted her inside and out of sight as quickly as possible.
Mrs. Arcano smiled wider as they reached the front door, welcoming them.
"It's so hot today, isn't it? It's cool inside. The air conditioner works very well. I'm Imelda Arcano."
After the nightmare in Malibu, Bud's office had arranged the new house on the fly -- dropped the cash and told Mrs. Arcano whatever she needed to hear, which probably wasn't much. This would be easy money, no questions part of the deal, low-profile tenants who would be gone in a week. Mrs. Arcano probably wouldn't even report the rental to the absentee owner; just pocket Bud's cash and call it a day. They were to meet Mrs. Arcano only so she could give them the keys.
Imelda Arcano beckoned them inside. The man hesitated long enough to glance back at the street. It was narrow and treeless, which was good. He could see well in both directions, though the small homes were set close together, which was bad. The narrow alleys would fill with shadows at dusk.
He wanted Mrs. Arcano out of the way as quickly as possible, but Mrs. Arcano latched onto the girl -- one of those female-to-female things -- and gave them the tour, leading them through the two tiny bedrooms and bath, the microscopic living room and kitchen, the grassless backyard. He glanced at the neighboring houses from each window, and out the back door at the rusty chain-link fence that separated this house from the one behind it. A beige and white pit bull was chained to an iron post in the neighboring yard. It lay with its chin on its paws, but it was not sleeping. He was pleased when he saw the pit bull.
The girl said, "Does the TV work?"