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Publisher's Summary

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 - because only other criminals are his family. If any of the rules are broken, it is punishable by death.

Frank Meyer had the American dream - a wife and family he adored, a successful business - 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 worked as a professional military contractor, a mercenary, with a man named Joe Pike. Frank was one of Pike's guys, and they faced death together in every rotten hellhole around the world.

The police think Meyer was hiding something very bad, because previous home invasions by the crew had targeted only criminals with large stashes of cash or drugs. Pike cannot believe it, and with the help of Cole, he sets out on a hunt of his own: to clear his friend, to punish the people who murdered him.

A trail that at first seems relatively simple, however, very quickly becomes complicated, as the two of them find themselves entangled in a web of ancient grudges, blood ties, blackmail, vengeance, double crosses, and cutthroat criminality, and at the heart of it all, an act so terrible even Pike and Cole have no way to measure it.

Investigate another case with Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.
©2010 Robert Crais (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

I love Joe Pike

Robert Crais does it agian with another great story, this time with our tough but gentle (not that he'll admit it) Joe Pike. There wasn't as much dry humor in this one as that's Elvis Cole's personality (he does show up in the story)but it was nice to get to know Joe and his background a bit better. Awesome story and Robert Crais does a great job narratoring it as well.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Not Elvis but a good listen

Long time reader/listener of Crais. Big fan of Elvis Cole. This is second to feature sidekick Joe Pike. Missing the humour & humanity from the Elvis Cole books. My opinion Pike is better supporting character than feature. Crais as narrator neither hurt nor helped. That being said I still enjoyed this.

51 of 57 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Timothy
  • Riverside, CA, USA
  • 01-20-10

Mr. Crais isn't so bad.

I get it, everyone has a favorite narrator. I loved James Daniels. I think he is the best narrator of audio books that I have listened to. But I guess he couldn't tear himself away from law school to read The First Rule.

Mr. Crais wasn't as bad as I expected. Not as good as Stephen King narrating Bag of Bones, but better than Khaled Hosseini reading Kite Runner (I told you it's subjective).
At least Mr. Crais didn't get Scott Brick (too whiny) or Dick Hill (too Humphrey Bogart) to read.

That being said, if you loved The Watchman, you will like this book.

More importantly, go listen to The Last Detective. It is the finest mystery book since Michael Connelly's Lost Light.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Francine
  • Broomfield, COLORADO, United States
  • 05-24-15

Best Joe Pike yet

The author reading the story is the best way to hear it. The fact that it an amazing story is just a bonus. Thank you Mr Crais.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Huge Joe Pike Fan!

Any additional comments?

After a break it was a breath of fresh air to get back to Joe Pike and Elvis Cole. I have no problem with the series entries that focus on Pike. Yes, the wonderful wiseass humor of Cole is missing, but in a lot of ways I find Joe Pike the more compelling of the two and love that he's full of complexity and contradictions that you don't usually find an a nearly superhuman action hero. Crais does a surprisingly good job as reader. When I'm able to forget the reader and simply visualize the characters that's always a good sign, although it would have been a plus if he had mastered the incidental Eastern European accents - not really a deal-breaker though. All in all a really satisfying read that made want to go straight to the next in the series.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

More, please

My first book of this author. It took a little while to get used to his narration, but I loved the story and the narration as it went very well together. Have tried other of his books afterwards, but story nor narration in those have been as masterly done as in this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Must Read

Good Listen from the plot to the Authors narration techniques. It is apparent that the author researched his subject well. The plot moves quickly, yet delivers twists and turns to the very end. The most interesting thing about this book is that it is believable. Highly recommend.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Joanne
  • Burlington, ON, Canada
  • 01-23-10

Great to spend time with Joe Pike again

I wasn't sure what to expect when I realized that Robert Crais would be narrating his own book because, while an author knows his or her own story best, this doesn't always translate into a sublime listening experience. In any case, Mr. Crais is a wonderful narrator and brought this story, focused on Joe Pike, to life. The book is a welcome "read": good characters, lots of unexpected twists and plenty of action.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Christy
  • Yucca VAlley, CA, United States
  • 01-25-10

Excellent Listen

I have enjoyed all of the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike books by Robert Crais. He is a great storyteller but his narration leaves much to be desired. After becoming engrossed in the story line this amateur narration became less annoying. This is a great story with typical Joe Pike brevity, He incorporates characters you know with interesting new characters. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a fast paced, well written story.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Crais- Great Author- Unskilled Narrator

Love Crais mysteries and have especially enjoyed Elvis Cole and Joe Pike story lines.... but Crais should have selected a professional actor/narrator to read the Pike character. His reading skills are unpolished and amateur and were distracting as I tried to listen to this audio book. I have since purchased a hard copy of the book. I'll read it instead of listening.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful