The Sentry

Robert Crais, Putnam, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-399-15707-3
Near the outset of Crais's impressive third thriller featuring L.A. PI Joe Pike (after The First Rule), Pike notices two suspicious characters enter a Venice, Calif., sandwich shop. Pike, an ex-Marine and former LAPD patrol officer, walks into the shop just in time to rescue its owner, Wilson Smith, from a vicious assault. Pike soon takes an interest in Smith's niece, Dru Rayne, whose "smart eyes" and warm smile lure him into a lethal gangland battle involving La Eme, the Mexican mafia, and a Bolivian drug connection. The LAPD and the FBI both try and fail to warn Pike off, but PI Elvis Cole, the lead in nine other Crais books, is as ever ready to support his pal. Heartbreaking ironies, frustrated desires, and violent nonstop action make this a standout. Crais just keeps getting better at giving depth to the laconic Pike and the anguished Cole, who still pines for his lost love, Louisiana attorney Lucy Chenier. Author tour. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/22/2010
Release date: 01/01/2011
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