I’ve been enjoying Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole mysteries, but apparently Crais felt the need to punch things up by featuring Elvis’ best buddy, Joe Pike as the lead character. The Watchman was the first in the series to experiment with the new POV, and I found myself somewhat ambivalent about the results. The First Rule again follows Joe, with Elvis as a supporting character, with improved results.
In The First Rule, we meet a sweet domestic scene with Frank Meyer and his family, right before they are executed. I tend to dislike such an obvious sympathy-building scenario; I feel an author should use the perspective of the narrative and make us care because the protagonists care. But I persevered and was rewarded. Although the book jacket makes it seem like revenge is the only motivation, there are enough complexities and twists to it that it becomes something more than mere revenge thriller.
We learn a little bit about Joe’s mercenary years–although not enough–when he worked on a team with Frank, as well as another man, Lenny. Jon Stone was one of their contacts for jobs, and he moves beyond a mere voice on the phone in this book to play an active role in the investigation. I kind of like the version of the Bad Merry Men that Crais gets to play with when he uses Pike’s social (ha!) circles, and look forward to seeing more of the completely amoral Jon Stone in the Pike books. The resolution(s), for the most part, aren’t ones that Elvis would have entirely supported, so I can see the appeal of the alternate POV.
On the thriller scale, I’d call it a solid 4.0 for genre. On the carol. scale, a 3.5, because they tend to be more lightweight books that don’t arouse my collector instincts. But I’m more than happy my library has them.