The organized criminal gangs of the former Soviet Union are bound by what they call the thieves’ code. The first rule is this: A thief must forsake his mother, father, brothers, and sisters. He must have no family-no wife, no children. We are his family. If any of the rules are broken, it is punishable by death.
Frank Meyer had the American dream-until the day a professional crew invaded his home and murdered everyone inside. The only thing out of the ordinary about Meyer was that- before the family and the business and the normal life-a younger Frank Meyer had worked as a professional mercenary, with a man named Joe Pike. The police think Meyer was hiding something very bad, but Pike does not. With the help of Cole, he sets out on a hunt of his own-an investigation that quickly entangles them both in a web of ancient grudges, blood ties, blackmail, vengeance, double crosses, and cutthroat criminality, and at the heart of it, an act so terrible even Pike and Cole have no way to measure it. Sometimes, the past is never dead. It’s not even past.
Review From Amazon
Joe Pike is back, and this time I’m ready.
I have always received a lot of fan mail, but nothing prepared us for the tsunami that flooded my website when The Watchman was published. (The Watchman was the first Joe Pike novel. Joe is now returning in The First Rule.) I mean, I knew Joe was popular, but c’monnnn.
We always see a spike in e-mail when a book is released (by “we,” I’m talking about myself and the sorely overworked Carol T, who creates our newsletter and manages our e-mail). This spike typically lasts eight to ten weeks, before leveling back to our average of about twenty e-mails a day. But when The Watchman was published, the spike was way larger, and didn’t begin to fade until three months later. Then, amazingly, it grew again—coming back stronger than ever as thousands of readers—Joe Pike fanatics, bless’m!—spread the word. And the word was: sex.
Like Elvis Cole, Joe had always gotten a lot of mail from women, but the tone of his mail now changed. They sent gifts. They sent pictures. They wrote, “I love Joe Pike,” but not in a way suggesting they were fond of him or maybe kinda crushing on him. Pike’s fans were feral. They said, “I WANT Joe Pike.”
Meaning: Pike is my love slave!
I get it. It is not lost on me that the young male heartthrobs in the current crop of insanely successful vampire films are all brooding bad-boy loners, held in check from their evil ways only by the love of a good woman, who is herself moved by their tortured hearts. Has any vampire been as lethal as Joe Pike, or as tortured?
Pike is the ultimate bad boy. He is dangerous, enigmatic, and male with a capital M, but it is his damaged soul that makes him sexy with a capital S. His lack of emotion suggests an inner landscape so damaged it is as barren as the desert surrounding Tikrit. It also suggests an emptiness waiting to be filled, and therein lies Pike’s tragic nature and, I suspect, the sexy-hot core of his huge appeal. My female readers intuit that he is redeemable, and an awful lot of them want to help with his redemption!
For men, Joe Pike’s appeal is different, but no less powerful. Pike takes no crap and fears no man, and this is a pretty common fantasy. Try to imagine Joe Pike getting cut off in traffic or shoved off the sidewalk? Ha—they wouldn’t dare! Pike’s red-arrow tattoos probably sum up the fantasy best of all: here is a man who will not back up, or back down, and pretty much every guy wants to be that man (even if only in a fantasy life!) from time to time, or have such a friend as his wingman.
And speaking of friends—Pike wouldn’t be Pike if it weren’t for Elvis Cole, so hard-core Elvis Cole fans need have no fear: Elvis Cole is back, playing a large and important role in The First Rule. I could no more write a Joe Pike novel without Elvis than I could write an Elvis Cole novel without Joe. These guys are more than partners. They are friends. They are two underdogs who have turned themselves into heroes. —Robert Crais