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112 of 120 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Pike Bad-A**ery, Crais brings the tension!
If you're interested in tracking the evolution of an author, try reading an early Elvis Cole novel, (Lullaby Town is amazing) and then move directly to The Sentry. It's pretty staggering.

The confidence, complexity and power of Crais' narrative has increased by leaps and bounds over the years. If this seems obvious, try doing the same for, say, James Patterson...
Published on January 11, 2011 by Don In Fremont

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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not so scary
Pike is supposed to be hard core. The guy you don't mess with. Here he's just another tough guy. The bad guy is this super killer, but you never really see how he pulls it off. Goes into a place and takes out 6-8 guys. Take it on faith? And when these two face off, ho-hum. Something's missing. Elvis takes the tough shot and that's not expected. Looking for better.
Published on January 16, 2011 by John Bowes


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112 of 120 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Pike Bad-A**ery, Crais brings the tension!, January 11, 2011
This review is from: The Sentry (Joe Pike Novels) (Hardcover)
If you're interested in tracking the evolution of an author, try reading an early Elvis Cole novel, (Lullaby Town is amazing) and then move directly to The Sentry. It's pretty staggering.

The confidence, complexity and power of Crais' narrative has increased by leaps and bounds over the years. If this seems obvious, try doing the same for, say, James Patterson or Stuart Woods. You'll need to check the publication dates to to determine chronology.

The literary heft Crais and his peers (Connelly, Lehane, Pelecanos, Vachss, etc.) have brought to the Crime Thriller Genre is powerful.

Specifically to our purposes here, Crais has moved from jokey, Chandleresque, L.A.valentines to searing tales of honor and betrayal, with rich characters and genuine consequences. Both formats are highly entertaining, and while we may miss the former (and even hope, one day, for a return visit) we must appreciate the power of the latter.

The Sentry once again explores the psyche of Crais' "other" genius creation, Joe Pike. We find Pike in the midst of a mundane task--auto maintenence. Events before his eyes force his action, because Pike is above all other things, a man of honor, and can't let such things as the threat of crime pass. He inserts himself into the situation (the honor thing again), pulling himself into a years-old trail of crime and violence.

But let's move back a bit.

Crais immediately builds a sense of dread, via a flashback to New Orleans, and a nightmare from Elvis. As longtime readers are well aware, Elvis has become something of a tortured soul lately, with some very dark events in his recent times. So the stage is well-set for what's about to happen to Joe, as he enters the world of Wilson Fisk and Dru Rayne, proprieters of a take-out deli and apparent victims of a street-gang shakedown.

Elvis is recruited, police are confronted, FBI agents are suspected.

And then, things get hairy. Crais brings Daniel into the mix, a hit man who is, quite simply, the creepiest dude he's yet created, and that's saying something. Daniel provides the random menace ratcheting things up to yet another level. Characters.

Very few authors are as skilled at setting the scene and then letting loose with action as Crais. He's still not afraid, to use his own vernacular, to "stack bodies like cordwood", and does so with a seamlessness never gratuitous. Largely because we know his characters so well, and the world they inhabit. Consequences.

As Pike gets sucked into the swirl of Wilson and Dru's troubles, he of course becomes emotionally and romantically vested. Dru Rayne is a damsel in distress, and Joe is nothing if not a knight. And, as you can imagine, little is what it seems on the surface.

Crais keeps the cast of characters limited, but it's really nice to see Lucy Chenier play a significant part of the doings, because we love how she and Elvis relate. They are Crais' Big Romance, and we know he's not done with them.

His followers need no influence from here to know this is a must-read. Those new to Crais' world, take comfort--in The Sentry, he has created a great jumping-on point to begin your addiction. By the time he puts out his next, you'll be caught up!

Just know this....The Sentry is intense, and emotional. Events here will have lasting impact, we're certain, throughout future books. And the end? Well, bring a hankie, that's all we're saying.
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53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sigh - now I have to wait a year for the next one..., January 12, 2011
This review is from: The Sentry (Joe Pike Novels) (Hardcover)
Robert Crais is firmly planted on my list of favourite authors. He has written some great stand alone novels, but it is the recurring characters of Elvis Cole (self proclaimed World's Greatest Detective) and his partner Joe Pike that I can't get enough of.

"Cole was a licensed private investigator Pike met back in the day when Pike still worked the badge. Not the likeliest of pairings, Pike being so quiet and remote, Cole being one of those people who thought he was funny, but they were more alike then most people knew."

The Sentry opens with a prologue featuring a truly creepy killer in New Orleans in 2005. Fast forward to present day in L.A. Joe Pike is just filling up his jeep with gas and the tires with air when he notices two gang bangers heading into a small sandwich shop. Instinct sends him across the street in time to stop the beating the two are giving the shopkeeper. But that simple good Samaritan acts leads to a whole lot more...gang wars, drug cartels, a deranged assasin and....a woman. Who has her own secrets...

"If Pike had not stopped for air, he would not have seen the men or crossed the street. He would not have met the woman he was about to meet. Nothing that was about to happen would have happened. But Pike had stopped. And now the worst was coming."

Oh, how's that for great foreshadowing! And the plot Crais has crafted absolutely delivers. Page turning, riveting, non stop action. But those of us who have come to love these characters have been waiting for Crais to reveal a little more of the enigma that is Joe Pike. In The Sentry, we get a glimpse behind Pike's ever present sunglasses into what makes him tick. The relationship with Elvis is explored in more depth as well.

What is the appeal of Joe Pike? Well, he's fearless with a strong moral compass that he can't help but follow. It doesn't hurt that he's strong, attractive and sexy. But he's everything you wouldn't expect as well - he's a vegetarian who practices yoga. Just a great character that I can't get enough of.

The Sentry kept me turning pages non stop. Robert Crais is one of the best thriller/crime writers out there. Fans of the Jack Reacher books would enjoy this series.
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54 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be concerned, Joe Pike is standing sentry., January 18, 2011
This review is from: The Sentry (Joe Pike Novels) (Hardcover)
There is something about the noble character Joe Pike. His courageousness endears him to the reader. Pike is an ex-mercenary, ex-Los Angeles Police Officer and a man who cares for the less fortunate or abused.

As this excellent story unfolds, Joe is at a gas station when he sees two men swagger into a sandwich shop. Their body language tells Joe that the men are out to do something malicious.

What I like about this character is that Joe doesn't hesitate or worry aobut what will happen to him. He enters the shop to see what's transpiring. The two men are beating the shop owner and show no sign of letting up. Joe takes out one of the attackers and the other runs away.

The police arrest the attacker who Joe took care of but later that night, someone threw a can of paint throught the shop window.

The owner's niece, Dru Rayne, asks Joe to help. Joe learns that the gang is trying to shake down the store owner for protection money. Joe approaches that gang leader and obtains the man's assurance that the hostilities toward the store owner will desist.

Joe believes that he has removed the threat and he and Dru enjoy a coffee break and visit. Dru tells him about her past and shows him a photo of her daughter. It seems as if this could be the start of a romantic attachment.

The next night, violence escallates. Some enters the store and creates havoc and a sign is painted on the wall, "I am here."

The story continues at a fast pace. Violence and suspense mount as Joe, the authorities and others search for Dru and her uncle. There are plot twists and surprises as the the reader continues. We don't know how Joe will be able to save Dru and complications change the direction of the story in a realistic manner.

I found myself totally drawn to this story and now know what the meaning of a white knuckle story is. I believe that this will be one of the best books of the year.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not so scary, January 16, 2011
By 
John Bowes (Oxford, MA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sentry (Joe Pike Novels) (Hardcover)
Pike is supposed to be hard core. The guy you don't mess with. Here he's just another tough guy. The bad guy is this super killer, but you never really see how he pulls it off. Goes into a place and takes out 6-8 guys. Take it on faith? And when these two face off, ho-hum. Something's missing. Elvis takes the tough shot and that's not expected. Looking for better.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good moments, but disappointing overall, January 14, 2011
By 
David Wilson (Orange County, CA) - See all my reviews
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Looks like I am in the minority among the first dozen or so reviewers, but I don't find this book up to Robert Crais' usual high standards. The problem, I think, is the character of Joe Pike himself. The guy is just too elemental to carry all a novel's dimensions, and while Elvis Cole has in the past supplied the emotional center in the Cole/Pike novels, it's too heavy a load this time. When Cole finally sheds tears over a situation, it is simply not credible. Pike, for all his seeming interest in one of the lead characters, is pretty much the same as always. An automaton in love (assuming that he is in fact in love, or even capable of heading in that direction) is still an automaton.

Several scenes are not credible. Pike climbing a Sunset Blvd. billboard to look down into gangbanger's lair needed a rethink. So did the actions of the assassin who deliberately takes a bad sniper position because he knows Pike will be looking for him in a better one. Way too many of the characters turn out to be somebody or something different from what they seem to be. The main bad guy, who until the last few pages is seen only through his own perceptions and observations, is creepy, all right, but not in a successful way.

A lot of followers of Pike and Cole will probably find this one worth reading; judging from the early reviews here, a lot of them already have. I won't advise Crais fans to skip it, but if you go into it expecting a lesser performance you will perhaps enjoy it more than I did.

My downgrading of this book has nothing to do with the Kindle price. That's a market issue, and people know what they are willing to pay for a product. This would not have had a higher rating from me at half the price.
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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dear Robert,, January 15, 2011
By 
Gary Griffiths (Los Altos Hills, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Sentry (Joe Pike Novels) (Hardcover)
We've been together for almost 24 years now - since you grabbed me by the throat with "The Monkey's Raincoat" and didn't let go until the blockbuster finish. You were smart, funny - always wise cracking - and clever. Man, were you ever clever, with the offbeat Elvis Cole always having the right one-liner, always seeing the clues no one else did, always cracking the case the no one else wanted or simply couldn't solve. And when you got in trouble, there was always Joe Pike, the formidable Jose Pike, menacing in the shadows. Stoic, mysterious, never more than a mouth-twitches worth of emotion.

Oh, sure, we had some rough spots. "Free Fall" would never win any awards, and "Voodoo River" was less than inspiring. But "LA Requiem?" Man, was LA crime ever done any better? In fact, was there a pop noir crime fiction novel of the day with the chops of "LA Requiem." Or "Hostage," that tight stand alone thriller that was way better than the mediocre flick in inspired, but hey - that's Hollywood for you.

But you know, Robert, you've kind of been drifting from that razor edge that attracted me in the first place. "The Sentry"? Sure, a good, solid, effort - certainly better than most of the pulp that's being cranked out by Crais wannabes today. But seriously, Robert, where's the risk? The passion? That gritty violence and sharp tongues that set you so far above the pack? I mean, come on - LA gang-bangers driving Priuses now? Elvis Cole going all weepy on us? And Joe Pike, THE Joe Pike - falling in love? To a woman he's met for like ten minutes? Joe Pike may be pop fiction's most brilliant creation - a lethal weapon of a man with his own red arrows, the definition of no-nonsense, the kind of guy who would make a mannequin look chatty. But really, Robert, Joe is best in his supporting role, hanging with Elvis when Elvis is in the deep stuff - moving in to do his mayhem, and then quickly dropping back into his void until he's needed again. We don't need another Jack Reacher - you're better than that, Robert. Because once you start featuring Joe Pike, you need to start putting some depth on his character. But a deeper Pike is a less mysterious, and, ultimately, less interesting. Been there, done that, seen him.

So look, Robert, really - it's not you - it's me. You've moved on - gotten deeper, more refined - more feelings - even showing some political correctness. Me? I guess I'm in a rut, Robert. I've never advanced beyond your smart talk, the intelligent story lines, the grit, the edge, the risk, and yeah, the unvarnished violence. Your keen old sense of black and white. I'm just not ready for your softer edges, Robert. Sorry, but I think it best that we just drift apart and start reading other people...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Three of the Joe Pike Novels, March 15, 2011
Robert Crais is probably best known for his Elvis Cole novels, but it wasn't until THE WATCHMAN that I discovered this author. If you research his books, it gets a bit confusing as to whether there is one series or two separate series. In a way, it's both. Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are best of friends and with the exception of a couple of books, both characters are featured. The difference is in the Elvis Cole novels, Cole is the protagonist. In the Joe Pike novels, Pike is.

In this latest installment, Pike happens to be getting gas when he sees two thugs enter a sandwich shop. With his experience, he knows something is about to go down. Pike steps in as the thugs are beating up on the owner. Being an ex-cop, ex-Marine, ex-mercenary and a man of few words, Pike makes a formidable character. They didn't stand a chance.

When the police arrive, Pike meets Dru Rayne, the sandwich shop owner's niece. He promises to take care of the gang who is harassing them, but nothing is what it seems and the pieces won't come together until towards the end.

Although this is a typical Joe Pike novel, I found THE SENTRY more suspenseful, more intense than the previous two books. With each novel, more layers of Joe Pike are revealed. Out of the two series, this is my favorite. I love Joe Pike as a main character and Elvis Cole as a supporting character, not the other way around.

If you've not read any books by this author, I'd suggest starting with THE WATCHMAN. This is the first book where Joe Pike is the main character. Here are the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novels in order:

1. The Monkey's Raincoat (Elvis Cole novel)
2. Stalking the Angel (Elvis Cole novel)
3. Lullaby Town (Elvis Cole novel)
4. Free Fall (Elvis Cole novel)
5. Voodoo River (Elvis Cole novel)
6. Sunset Express (Elvis Cole novel)
7. Indigo Slam (Elvis Cole novel)
8. L.A. Requiem (Elvis Cole novel)
9. The Last Detective (Elvis Cole novel)
10. The Forgotten Man (Elvis Cole novel)
11. The Watchman (Joe Pike novel)
12. Chasing Darkness (Elvis Cole novel)
13. The First Rule (Joe Pike novel)
14. The Sentry (Joe Pike novel)

With this series, I prefer the audio format. Luke Daniels is the perfect voice for Joe Pike. Each book has had a different reader and this one is the best!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joe And Elvis In An Emotional, Violent, Satisfying Tale, January 12, 2011
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This review is from: The Sentry (Joe Pike Novels) (Hardcover)
Whether it is a Joe Pike/Elvis Cole novel or an Elvis/Joe novel, Robert Crais usually grabs the reader by the throat and doesn't let go until the very last paragraph. The chemistry between these two friends, colleagues, and brothers-in-arms goes far beyond most buddy teams in action/suspense thrillers today. The humor, sensitivity, and undying loyalty between Elvis Cole, the "world's greatest detective, and Joe Pike, former cop and international mercenary, is so compelling that the characters seem alive on the pages and they are clearly the type of men with whom this reader would love to share a beer. And Crais finds new ground to plow in each new novel that further explores the intricate relationship between the two as well as offering readers new glimpses of Pike's humanity.

In "The Sentry", Joe interrupts an apparent shakedown and beating of Wilson Smith, proprietor of a sandwich shop, by members of a Latino gang. After meeting Smith's neice, Dru Rayne, Joe is smitten and appoints himself as her personal sentry. Things are not as they seem almost from the beginning as neither Smith nor Rayne seem interested in involving the police or doctors. Joe talks to the leader of the Venice Trece gang and gets a promise that the attacks will cease. Yet Smith suffers another attack on his business and then both he and Dru suddenly disappear. Facing a rabid gang, uncooperative local police, and unresponsive FBI agents who are shadowing Smith and Rayne for some reason, compels Joe to call in his partner, Elvis Cole, for a fresh set of eyes and ideas.

As Joe and Elvis work every angle trying to locate the missing shop owners (and Joe's romantic interest), they become increasingly aware that Smith and Dru are not what they seem. Who are they really? Why are they under surveilance from the FBI, who seem unwilling to cooperate with Joe or Elvis? How is the street gang involved and who is whacking gang members along the way? And finally, who is the malevolent killer known as the "executioner"(surely one of Crais' creepiest villains) who seems to be following the missing couple and who targets Joe as his next victim?

True Joe Pike fans will understand when I say this is a high speed, tension bulding, page-turner that is difficult to put down. Crais is a master at fleshing out believable characters, spot-on dialogue, and plots that often don't turn out the way readers might suspect. It is shockingly easy to get caught up in Crais' prose, characters, and plots to the extent that time seems to fade away for the immersed reader. If you have not yet discovered Robert Crais and his team of Joe and Elvis, and/or you are a fan of Lee Child's Jack Reacher, James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux, or Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford, you owe it to yourself to give this great series a read, and "The Sentry" is a great embarkation point for new readers. This is a highly recommended book and series.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RICK "SHAQ" GOLDSTEIN SAYS: (Bad Guy) "WHAT? WHAT DON'T I UNDERSTAND?" (Pike) "WAR IS WHAT I DO.", January 13, 2011
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This review is from: The Sentry (Joe Pike Novels) (Hardcover)
Longtime Robert Crais fans would recognize Joe Pike in a micro second out on the street. Any new fan should simply look for a modern day Clint Eastwood from his spaghetti western days, and that miniscule mouth twitch... simply consider that the biggest smile you'll ever see on our hero... along with his omnipresent dark military issued sunglasses. The action starts when Pike stops at a gas station and doesn't like the vibes of some "gang" types he sees walking down the street. Then before the reader even has time to get comfortable... Pike is breaking up a beating being administered to Wilson Smith, the owner of Wilson's TakeOut-po' boys & sandwiches, by the aforementioned gang bangers. Along with making the acquaintance of Wilson, Pike also meets his fetching "niece" Dru Rayne, who also works at the sandwich shop. But to say that Pike simply met Dru... would be a drastic understatement. Our hero Joe Pike is smitten all the way through his self-imposed former mercenary-military-contractor-armor. It had something to do with her eyes. As a byproduct of breaking up the gang beat down, Pike breaks one of the criminal's arms. When Pike offers to call an ambulance to treat the obviously concussed Wilson as well as calling the police... Wilson defiantly says he wants no cops and no ambulance. Pike still reports the situation and the authorities arrive. A strange vibe persists... and Pike tells Dru she can count on him to protect them... and so the adventure begins. Wilson and Dru arrived in Southern California after being displaced from New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina... and it seems more than bad weather followed them into town.

As more vengeance is rained down on the sandwich shop... the author leads us expertly through a cast of familiar characters (to longtime Crais fans) ranging from contacts in the Hispanic gang community... to one of my favorite "bit-cameo" performers, *JOHN CHEN*, a criminalist with the LAPD's Scientific Investigations Division. (SID) "JOHN CHEN WAS CORRUPT. A PARANOID WITH LOW SELF-ESTEEM, CHEN LIVED FOR THE HEADLINE." A total geek, he idolizes Pike because no one else treats him with so much respect.

And of course anywhere Pike spends any amount of time, you know Elvis Cole, *THE WORLD'S GREATEST DETECTIVE* will be heavily involved. Despite nightmares of his own, Pike can call Cole in the middle of the night and Cole's immediate answer without hesitation is "YOU NEED ME, I'M THERE." This story doesn't stop or slow down for a second. The most endearing part of this saga is the man-to-man... unquestioned-brotherly-deep-soulful-best-friend-best-buddy-person-who-will-put-his-life-on-the-line-for-the-other-**WITHOUT EVEN ASKING WHY**... LOVE... that these two longtime friends have for each other. There are tears... there are looks... there are actions speak louder than words... that engulf the reader where it counts.

Crais has the unique talent to immerse action with pure poetic artistry. The way that James Lee Burke paints a literary canvas of deserts and the bayou... Crais has an unlimited pallet of colors for the city. Potential readers are the beneficiary of such beautiful phrases such as: "LIGHTS FROM THE HOUSES BELOW GLITTERED LIKE FALLEN STARS."... "THE CAT POURED OFF THE BED LIKE A POOL OF BLACK INK."... "PIKE FELT HOLLOW, LIKE A BUBBLE FLOATING ON WATER."... "HER EYES ANGRY BLACK GUNSIGHTS."

The author's ability to combine murder and mayhem... with delicate phraseology... is like pulling silk over polished steel. This is one of his best books... and another benefit to any potential new Crais reader, is that he quickly and efficiently gives you any background needed on a character with a history such as Chen. I couldn't recommend this book any higher.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Book!, February 6, 2011
By 
Melvin Hunt (Cleveland,, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sentry (Joe Pike Novels) (Hardcover)
Dru Rayne and Wilson Smith claim to be escapees from New Orleans who were driven out by Hurricane Katrina. They have moved to Los Angeles to make a new life by opening a seafood house. The hero of this novel witnesses Smith being beaten by a neighborhod gang. Pike of course saves him. Pike is a rough customer who was fromerly a Force Recon Marine, a mercenary, and a Los Angeles policeman.It appears that Smith and his neice Dru Rayne do not want
to be protected by Joe Pike.After some investigation Pike discovers that the protection gang is part of Venice Tres-Malevos a vivious atreet gang in Los Angeles.It picks up from here.You have the appearance of La Eme the Mexican Mafia. The identities of Dru Rayne and Wilson Smith do not stand up under scrutiny.Oike discovers thst Smith and Rayne are actuallt in league with La Eme. You then have the appearance of Gregg Daniel Vincent also known as the
"Executioner". He is also looking for Smith and Rayne. He is a bad customer who tortures and beatd his customers. After checking with the New Orleans FBI they discover that Smith and Rayne are actually Rose Marie Platt and Bill
Rainey. They have stolen $12 million dollars from thr Bolivian drug cartel. Daniel is employed by the Bolivians to
get their money back. Of course Pike and Daniel have a showdown. This book has a surprising ending. It would be worth your time to buy and read this book.
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The Sentry (Joe Pike Novels)
The Sentry (Joe Pike Novels) by Robert Crais (Hardcover - January 11, 2011)
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