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The First Rule (Elvis Cole, #13; Joe Pike, #2)
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The First Rule (Elvis Cole #13)

4.2  ·  Rating details ·  15,609 Ratings  ·  808 Reviews
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 profession
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published January 12th 2010 by G. P. Putnam's Sons
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Ross Rawnsley Dena, you do not have to read them in order. Each one stands alone, but starting from the beginning allows you to better know the characters that come…moreDena, you do not have to read them in order. Each one stands alone, but starting from the beginning allows you to better know the characters that come and go, along with all their back stories. This is a great series!(less)

Community Reviews

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A retired mercenary and his entire family are brutally murdered in what appears to be a home invasion robbery. This wasn’t just any ex-merc though. He was an old buddy of professional kicker of asses Joe Pike, and Joe promptly sets out on a revenge rampage. I do so love a good revenge rampage!

Robert Crais has done something off-beat in his modern PI series that usually stars Elvis Cole as the first person hero of the story with Joe Pike featuring as the bad ass buddy that might as well be put i
Dan Schwent
A retired mercenary Joe Pike used to work with is murdered along with his family, seemingly by a home invasion crew. Joe Pike springs into action. When signs start pointing to an arms deal involving Serbian organized crime, Pike starts wondering if his old friend was mixed up in something he shouldn't have been...

The First Rule was another exciting outing featuring Joe Pike and Elvis Cole with Pike taking center stage and kicking ass. I can't say too much about the plot without blowing too much.
Mike (the Paladin)
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: action
Pike and Cole live interesting if somewhat morbid and difficult lives...

Here a good friend of Joe Pike and his entire family are brutally killed, this is something (predictably) that Joe isn't about to walk away from.

I like these books, but I've got to say Joe is an unusual guy...maybe unique. He's probably the only ex-cop, ex-mercenary, partner in a P.I. firm, tough as nails adventurer...bodyguard....etc. who's also a zen vegetarian. It can kind of give you whiplash. Still, I think I'm more a P
Rex Fuller
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
A Serbian home invasion crew kills one of Pike's guys and his family because they were just there when the crew comes to steal a child the family's nanny is protecting. They leave no prints or DNA. When Pike hears of it the crime scene is fresh. It is just a matter of time before Pike chews through the police investigation, the Serbian mafia, and double-crossing from his sources. Superbly paced. And with a good dose of Jon Stone included. A great read.
Jul 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ok, a few rambling thoughts on Robert Crais. Who is this guy, where'd he come from, how'd he get so popular? Well the first thing to know is that Crais is not from California at all. He is a native of Louisiana, grew up in a blue collar family, and read his first crime novel The Little Sister when he was 15. And that's all it took. Chandler gave him his love for writing. Other authors that have inspired him were Hammett, Hemingway (seems like that's true of all the crime writers), Parker, and St ...more
It is official, I am in love with Joe Pike. Sure he is one very scary dude, who has his own rules for right and wrong.

Right - Once you have cracked his outer core and become a friend you are a friend for life, even if you haven't talked to him in years and years.

Right - If you try to pull one over on him, he will mess you up.

Right - If you are an innocent, you will be protected at all costs.

Wrong - If you kill a friend for no reason he will come after you until he gets you.

These are the major r
A satisfying thriller featuring Joe Pike, a man of action who draws on his skills as an ex-mercenary special ops soldier and ex-cop and his drive to achieve justice within or outside the constraints of law. What puts him on the path to war this time is the murder of his friend from his mercenary days along with the man’s family by a set of home invaders. Step by step, Pike homes in on Serbian organized crime figures, aided by the sister of a nanny who was killed in the crime, another ex-mercenar ...more
Ryan Mishap
Jul 11, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery-crime
I've turned to Crais before when I've been wishing I could read a Micael Connelly, but the last couple books I've read have been terrible. This is little more than a Bruce Willis action/revenge movie. The character Joe Pike is a cipher; an impossibly adept killing machine who kills without compunction and will do anything to achieve his goal--oh and hey, it is all justified because he saves the kid in the end and the bad guys get it.

I love mysteries and can enjoy crime fiction, but books like th
First Sentence: Frank Meyer closed his computer as the early winter darkness fell over his home in Westwood, California, not far from the UCLA campus.

Joe Pike receives word that, Frank, one of the members of his former mercenary team has been murdered, along with his entire family and the nanny, in a violent home invasion. The police and FBI want to know what Frank was into.

Pike knows he Frank was clean but, along with the other members of the former team and his friend, PI Elvis Cole, are dedi
Robert Crais is a great storyteller as is Lee Child. I am always up for anything featuring Crais's hunky creation, Joe Pike or Child's equally appealing Jack Reacher. These guys are the epitome of men's men...that is not to say that women don't find these guys appealing too. I certainly do. Both protagonists are loyal to a fault and both take care of business in that strong, silent but deadly way that I love to read about. (I must have a Bruce Willis gene buried somewhere deep in my DNA).

Sep 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction, thriller
Another Joe Pike ass-kicking - very fun!

In this one Joe's former brother-in-arms, Frank Meyer, is murdered in his home along with his entire family, wife Cindy and two young sons, Little Frank and Joey. The only survivor of this home invasion is the family au pair, who later dies in the hospital of the gun shot she took to the face. Joe wants to find out what happened because the police are making it sound like Frank was into something nasty, illegal arms trading, and Joe knows this can not be t
Jul 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
Robert B. Parker did many things to revolutionize as well as revitalize the hardboiled detective novel. One of those things was to introduce a character who would work alongside the detective/detectives and handle the more violent/thuggish aspects of the story, as well as watching the back of those doing the sleuthing. These characters do a lot of their work "offscreen", keeping the more reputable portion of the duo free from the stain of their violence; they're mysterious, usually not given to ...more
Oct 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2009
Joe Pike has GOT to be one of the most enigmatic characters in the whole mystery/thriller genre. This is the 2nd book that Crais has devoted mostly to Joe, and I must say, it's a keeper! Just enough Elvis to keep things interesting. Pike is on the trail of a home invasion crew that killed a man, who used to be one of Joes's guys in his mercenary days, and the man's family. Joe Pike is a man whose bad side you REALLY don't want to be on! Great characters, great writing, great story.....what more ...more
Jan 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: thriller fans who love action and mysteries
Action packed, without let up, crisp dialogue, adventure and mystery a real rip roaring read. This book has it all.

Crais is as good as it gets and his characters are excellent. Many of his mysteries have involved Elvis Cole, a former detective who is partners with Joe Pike, a former mercenary.

The last two books have featured Joe Pike as the main protagonist. In this novel, Frank Meyer, a former mercenary, who was in Joe Pike's unit, is gunned down in a home invasion, with his entire family and a
Mar 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Robert Crais writes very well. It's not hard to believe that he started out as a scriptwriter because his writing seems ready-made for filming. Clean straightforward prose. However, what I like about his books are his two main characters, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. This book is a Joe Pike novel, with Elvis thrown in as his handy sidekick. If you are into doing what's "right" regardless of body counts, Joe Pike is the guy you want on your side. He is a bit of a parody when first encountered in Crai ...more
Alex Sheldon
Aug 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-thriller
It's my first foray into the world of Robert Crais and I wasn't disappointed.
Upon reading the back cover synopsis there was no mystery upon its contents - it was a simple case of a straight up revenge tale. And after reading a few pages prior to buying, I was hooked.
It was such an easy and thrilling read, I was done with it in 3 days, as opposed to a week with other titles.
Crais's direction is expertly handled and to the point, no messing about or subplots, and with a story like this, that's
Harv Griffin
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
An addictive first read, though I have no desire ever to re-read this puppy. I have to give this ★★★★★ even though many things about the story did not satisfy me---because I found myself stopping work on other projects just to zip through this book. When done, I felt like I had just eaten an entire Family Size bag of Barbecue Potato Chips. This is the 3rd Robert Crais novel I've read. You know the cliché "Cut To The Chase." So far, Crais books are all chase. They start with the chase and end wit ...more
Sep 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Joe Pike usually provides a supporting role in Robert Crais mysteries with Elvis Cole as the main character. In this mystery, Joe Pike moves to the forefront. Frank Meyer was living the American dream. As the story begins, he is sitting down to dinner when a professional home invasion crew hits his home and murders everyone inside, including the nanny. This is the last in a list of similar home invasions where everyone is killed. The other homeowners were criminals, so the police suspect this wa ...more
Thomas Edmund
Mar 31, 2010 rated it liked it
In The First Rule, Joe Pike Crais's version of Jack Reacher hunts for a murderous arms dealer responsible for killing an old friend of his (this time its personal).

The story very much reads like a Jack Reacher novel. There isn't much tension to be found in the fight scenes as Pike is such a macho-hero we can never believe he might loose, and the dialogue grates after a while as too stand-offish and on occasion too much racial stereotyping.

But if you are a fan of Lee Child's Jack Reacher, than th
Jeff Dickison
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Joe Pike entry. Exciting from start to finish as Joe must hunt down the killers of one of his former mercenaries. There are lots of plot twists and doublecrosses. Elvis Cole lends a hand. Highly recommended.
Leon Aldrich
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Crais delivers up another lightning paced hero-fest with Joe Pike delivering another lethal performance.

Now why didn't I grab book #3 while I was there?
Pamela Mclaren
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Former mercenary and now private investigator Joe Pike doesn't say much but when an old friend and co-worker is killed with his family during a home invasion, there is only one thing to do and Pike does it straight forwardly and deadly in this 2010 book by Robert Crais.

Pike finds that the invasion is carried out under the direction of a Serbian criminal but it takes a while to find out why among the various conflicting interests, including the ATF and the sister of one of the victims. It makes f
John Hood
Dec 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Miami Herald January 19, 2010

One case in which we root for the 'bad guy'


Anyone who's a fan of serious crime fiction knows the work of Robert Crais. And if you know the work, then you know Elvis Cole, a classic Corvette-driving L.A. gumshoe with more than a little Marlowe in his DNA.

Cole has been featured in 11 novels since '87's multi-award-winning The Monkey's Raincoat. And, as with the world, each time the sprawl of the story -- and its chara
Tricia Douglas
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-suspense
Crais has become one of my "go to" authors for good crime/suspense novels. I especially like the character of Joe Pike In this story Frank Meyer, one of Joe's former military buddies, has been killed along with his total family. Joe must learn what and if Frank was involved in drugs and other criminal activity. Elvis is his detective friend who know all the secrets that will help them discover the answers. Fast-paced, great characters, surprised ending.
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bk13 in the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series was another thrilling read. Frank Meyer was once a professional soldier in Pikes unit, but now is a family man with a wife , two small boys and an import business. When he and his whole family are killed in a home invasion, Pike goes on the hunt for the men responsible. But things get difficult when ATF, Feds & the Serbian mob become involved.
Mar 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I wonder if Michael Connelly wasn’t inspired to juxtapose his Lincoln Lawyer , Mickey Haller, and troubled but effective detective, Harry Bosch, as a result of watching Crais interweave the talents and abilities of Joe Pike and Elvis Cole. If opposites indeed attract, as it seems in most of life, these two work together as a perfect tandem in an entirely different chemistry than the structure created by Haller and Bosch working together. The methodologies are completely different. Pike is the fo ...more
Feb 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thrillers
Crais, Robert. THE FIRST RULE. (2010). ****. This thriller features the usual suspects: Elvis Cole, the owner of a detective agency and former cop, and, Joe Pike, Cole’s partner, also an ex-cop and ex-professional soldier of fortune. This, like Crais’ previous novel, “The Watchman,” features Pike as the principal player. This is a difficult thing to do because Pike is a man of a few words. He is driven by action, not dialog. Crais makes it work by surrounding Pike with people who do talk, though ...more
Mar 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
A new Robert Crais novel - they appear about every 2 to 3 years - is like Christmas and a kid's birthday wrapped in one. I buy it (investing in a hardcover, no less), then let it sit on my shelf, even let my husband read it first, just savoring the anticipation, and then finally dive in and read it pretty much straight through. This takes planning - must have a vacation available or some other wangling to create periods of time (no kids, no work, no nothing) since time not spent reading a Crais ...more
Mark Soone
I would probably call this one a 3.5 star if goodreads would ever make that an option!!!! Anyway I thoroughly enjoy the Pike/Cole series and found this book very entertaining...however compare to the previous book, this one fell just a little bit short of the bar that Crais had set for me.

Pike is back in action! This time a close friend and former comrad in arms has been brutally murdered, along with his innocent family. Cole determines that he will avenge this unnecesary murder, and wreak havoc
The Cats Mother
This is the first of his I've read but will be reading more. Joe Pike is a good tough-guy hero, rather like Jack Reacher but with more friends, and there's lots of action and the bad guys get what's coming to them. Not much mystery or twists,but satisfying nonetheless.
First read 19.11.12.
Re-read 2015: this was the book that introduced me to Joe Pike and Elvis Cole, and having now read all 12 previous books in order, I wanted to read this again to see how the characters all fit in. I couldn't rem
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Robert Crais is the author of the best-selling Elvis Cole novels. A native of Louisiana, he grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River in a blue collar family of oil refinery workers and police officers. He purchased a secondhand paperback of Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister when he was fifteen, which inspired his lifelong love of writing, Los Angeles, and the literature of crime fiction. ...more
More about Robert Crais...

Other Books in the Series

Elvis Cole (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • The Monkey's Raincoat (Elvis Cole, #1)
  • Stalking the Angel (Elvis Cole, #2)
  • Lullaby Town (Elvis Cole, #3)
  • Free Fall (Elvis Cole, #4)
  • Voodoo River (Elvis Cole, #5)
  • Sunset Express (Elvis Cole, #6)
  • Indigo Slam (Elvis Cole, #7)
  • L.A. Requiem (Elvis Cole, #8)
  • The Last Detective (Elvis Cole, #9)
  • The Forgotten Man (Elvis Cole, #10)

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“Walsh looked at Cole. “Both of you?” Pike said, “He’s going to have people. It’ll look better if I have people, too.” Cole pointed at himself. “I’m his people.” Pike went on with it. “He thinks we’re meeting to pick up the money. The real reason is to give him this.” Stone showed them a handheld GPS locator.” 0 likes
“They spent the next hour going over their plan and setting up their equipment. Stone loaded his software onto Carlos’s laptop, then fit locators on Pike and Cole, one in Cole’s hair, and the other on the back of Pike’s belt buckle. Both Walsh and Hurwitz made multiple calls, coordinating the tactical SRT team and six additional Special Agents. At” 0 likes
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