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The Sentry (Joe Pike) Paperback – January 3, 2012

327 customer reviews
Book 3 of 5 in the Joe Pike Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

T. Jefferson Parker and Robert Crais: Author One-on-One

In this Amazon exclusive, we brought together blockbuster authors T. Jefferson Parker and Robert Crais and asked them to interview each other.

T. Jefferson Parker is one of only three writers to be awarded the Edgar Award for Best Novel more than once and the bestselling author of numerous novels, including Iron River. Parker lives with his family in Southern California.

Read on to see T. Jefferson Parker's questions for Robert Crais, or turn the tables to see what Crais asked Parker.

T. Jefferson Parker Parker: You’ve got a new novel coming out in January of 2011. I haven’t read it yet, so can you tell me a bit about it?

Crais: It's a Joe Pike novel. Wasn't supposed to be, so I was taken by surprise, but that's the way Pike is. I planned to follow my last book, The First Rule, with an Elvis Cole novel, but I saw Pike meet a woman in Venice, California, a few moments after Pike saved her uncle from a robbery. Ideas for books come to me that way--I'll see an image. The way Pike looked at her, I knew right away I had to follow their story. So it's a love story, but not your usual love story--it's a Joe Pike love story. As the Kirkus review said, "Prepare the body bags."

Parker: Did you have any surprises as you wrote the book?

Crais: A character named Daniel. Daniel is a hit man who is after the woman Pike is falling for. He is not your typical hit man. Daniel is very strange dude, and the creepiest character I've ever created. When I wrote his first scene, I sat back, and said, whoa, where did this guy come from?

Parker: You write terrific heroes and terrific villains. How do you get inside their heads, learn their methods and tricks?

Crais: The answer would scare you. Really.

Robert Crais Parker: Can you describe a typical work day?

Crais: It's pretty boring. I get up, go for a hike or work out because I like to get the exercise out of the way, then I sit down to work. The work requires discipline because there are so many distractions. Though, honestly, I can't think of a better way to spend my time than hanging out with Joe Pike and Elvis Cole and even strange and dangerous characters like Daniel.

Parker: Okay, when all the work is done (is it ever?) what do you do for plain-old, flat-out fun?

Crais: Anything outside. Hiking, scuba diving, flying. As a writer, I spend most of my time inside, staring at my computer. When the work is finished, I want OUT. It's like being paroled.

(Photo of T. Jefferson Parker © Rebecca Lawson)
(Photo of Robert Crais © exleyfotoinc)
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

There’s no doubt that Elvis Cole is a winning character. But critics agreed that Joe Pike, who first abandoned his role as second fiddle to Cole in The Watchman, is a worthy main protagonist in his own right. Stoic, cool, self-possessed, and relentless, Pike not only complements his partner but gives the series greater depth and flavor. Most reviewers felt that The Sentry, like previous novels in the series, has a confident plot, fast-paced action, an insider’s view of a multifaceted Los Angeles, and enough suspense to keep turning the pages. Only a couple faulted the plot and some contrived villains. Though it’s best to start at the beginning of the series, The Sentry is a good place to get to know Pike better, as well as an excellent entry in the series. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Joe Pike (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425245721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425245729
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (327 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Crais is the author of the best-selling Elvis Cole novels. He was the 2006 recipient of the Ross Macdonald Literary Award.

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River in a blue collar family of oil refinery workers and four generations of police officers. He purchased a second-hand paperback of Raymond Chandler's The Little Sister when he was fifteen, which inspired his lifelong love of writing, Los Angeles, and the literature of crime fiction.

He journeyed to Hollywood in 1976 where he quickly found work writing scripts for such major television series as Hill Street Blues, Cagney & Lacey, and Miami Vice, as well as scripting numerous series pilots and movies-of-the-week for the major networks.

Feeling constrained by the collaborative working requirements of Hollywood, Crais resigned from a lucrative position as a contract writer and television producer in order to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a novelist. His first efforts proved unsuccessful, but upon the death of his father in 1985, Crais was inspired to create Elvis Cole, using elements of his own life as the basis of the story. The resulting novel, The Monkey's Raincoat, won the Anthony and Macavity Awards and was nominated for the Edgar Award. It has since been selected as one of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association.

Crais conceived of the novel as a stand-alone, but realized that, in Elvis Cole, he had created an ideal and powerful character through which to comment upon his life and times. Elvis Cole's readership skyrocketed in 1999 upon the publication of L. A. Requiem, which was a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller and forever changed the way Crais conceived of and structured his novels. Larger and deeper in scope, Publishers Weekly wrote of L. A. Requiem, "Crais has stretched himself the way another Southern California writer, Ross Macdonald, always tried to do, to write a mystery novel with a solid literary base." Booklist added, "This is an extraordinary crime novel that should not be pigeonholed by genre. The best books always land outside preset boundaries. A wonderful experience."

Crais followed with his first non-series novel, Demolition Angel, which was published in 2000 and featured former Los Angeles Police Department Bomb Technician Carol Starkey. In 2001, Crais published his second non-series novel, Hostage, which was named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times and was a world-wide bestseller. The editors of selected Hostage as the #1 thriller of the year. A film adaptation of Hostage was released in 2005, starring Bruce Willis as ex-LAPD SWAT negotiator Jeff Talley.

Robert Crais lives in the Santa Monica mountains with his wife, three cats, and many thousands of books. Additional information can be found at his website,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

118 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Don In Fremont on January 11, 2011
Format: 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.
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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Luanne Ollivier TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 12, 2011
Format: 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?
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful By michael a. draper VINE VOICE on January 18, 2011
Format: 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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