The Watchman Review
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Twenty-two-year-old Larkin Barkley, a spoiled heiress, lives life by her own rules. Recklessly accelerating her Aston Martin through Los Angeles streets at speeds exceeding 90 mph, she darts through red lights in the wee hours. This is when she truly feels free. On one particular morning, around 3 or 4 a.m., her airbag deploys, and the car spins out of control, hitting a silver Mercedes. Guilt-ridden, Larkin stumbles out of her Aston to check on the other driver and passengers. Though their faces are bleeding, they claim to be all right. The passenger in the back seat runs away, and the Mercedes drags on. Wanting to do the right thing, Larkin still files a police report. Not only will her choice lead her to become a federal witness, but it will also put her in great fear for her life.

Eleven days later, former police officer, ex-marine, ex-mercenary, and current P.I. Joe Pike enters the scene. In order to repay a long-standing favor, he’s hired to act as her bodyguard. Though this isn’t what he had in mind, he’s a man of his word. He hides Larkin at various places throughout L.A. County, even to the extent of changing her appearance; however, they are always discovered. Someone even breaks into Pike’s home and business. As bodies start to pile up, he realizes that not only is someone on the inside ratting them out, but the only way to protect Larkin is to catch the people who want her dead. He can’t even trust those who have entrusted him with her—among them her father, his attorney, and the Feds. This forces him to sever all communication with them, even under the threat of being charged with kidnapping and obstruction of justice. With the help of his partner, Elvis Cole, Pike seeks to discover who’s at the bottom of this and why they want Larkin dead. And as he searches, some well-known criminals—associated with drug dealing, money laundering, and the financing of terrorists—begin to surface.

The Watchman is a captivating crime novel, filled with so many twists and turns that you won’t be able to put it down. Robert Crais’s characters are complex, and he takes great pains to slowly and methodically reveal their personas. Loner Joe Pike and extroverted Larkin Barkley can barely stand each other until they eventually realize that they share similar hurts and pains.

Though this is Robert Crais’s fourteenth novel, The Watchman is the first of his books that I’ve read. However, I’m definitely looking forward to reading more. While eleven of his novels have featured P. I. Elvis Cole, with Joe Pike only playing a supporting role, this is the first novel highlighting Pike. I sure hope Crais writes more because I still want to dig deeper into the psyche of the detached P.I. Joe Pike. I’m certain there’s more vulnerability lurking inside.

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