My first Crais novel, and I like it. Joe Pike is a great character. I love how quiet he is. This book was a good first read, as you get to know Pike both through various revelations in the book, but also through the way he relates to Larkin, the young woman he is trying to protect. On the outside, they couldn't be more different, but Pike "sees" her and in her, himself. At one point telling her, "We're the same." And he's right. And she knows it too. She realizes that he actually really sees her, unlike anyone else in her life. Because they share the same loss, the same desire--to have a father who sees, loves, and appreciates them. And both of them are old enough and wise enough to realize that it is not going to happen. And they are again the same because they choose to go on and they choose to love their fathers anyway.
The other thing I liked about this novel was when Pike is remembering his early days as a brand new LAPD officer, or "boot." His wise training officer immediately gets to the heart of the matter with Pike, "You'll see some sorry bastards out here...but people aren't so bad. I'm going to each you how not to lose sight of that, because if you do, you'll end up hating them and that's the first step toward hating yourself. We can't have that, can we?" This is the same message I try to get out to my employees (though not nearly so eloquently)--working in child welfare, it's easy to get discouraged, and it's easy to focus on the worst in people and what separates us, rather than on those things that bind us together.