Monday, 29 July 2019


Isabel Roland is a bank teller, and one of her customers is Joe Pike. Pike, as ever, is a quiet enigma, but Isabel and especially her colleague Dana both think he's hot. After Pike leaves, Isabel goes to lunch, and as she hits the sidewalk, she's forced into a car and two men drive away with her. But Joe Pike had just got into his car across the street, and he's seen what happened. It was quick, but it didn't feel right. A few blocks later, at a light, Pike disables the men and rescues Isabel. Before he did, the men had told her 'we know your secret.' Which is more than she does, but it's enough to get Pike and Elvis Cole involved with some ruthless killers

Last year when I reviewed Robert Crais' The Wanted, I concentrated on the personal stories underneath the fast-paced thriller; contrasting stories of parents and children as well as two entertaining if cold-blooded killers. Dangerous Man is even faster-paced, a relentless series of track-downs and races against time which meant I was able to literally recapitulate the 'page-turner' and 'unputdownable' critics' cliches, because I read the book the day it arrived.

It's different from The Wanted, except perhaps for the beachside gunfight that climaxes the chase. Again there is a parental angle, but it's simply background. The villains don't have much in the way of personality, it's a bigger crew working for a second crew working for an anonymous villain off-stage. But after I finished Dangerous Man, I happened to watch the pilot episode of the overlooked Stephen J Cannell TV show Wise Guy. Elvis Cole had referenced himself to Jim Rockford (perhaps Cannell's best, see my obit in the Independent) at one point in the novel, and it occurred to me that Crais, who started writing TV crime shows during the Rockford era, had written this scene by scene, in what would have been an epic Rockford episode, if Rockford had come up with a partner like Joe Pike. The movement between the scenes, which buffers the fast pace, the relaxed dialogue even as the pressure intensifies, and the now-expected confrontation with federal marshals who are looking for the same killers, who tortured one of their retired colleagues at the start of their quest that roped in Roland.

You'd think Joe Pike is a bit too old for Isabel Roland, and she's a bit too much of an innocent civilian for him, but the strange prospect is also fun to consider, jarring as it is to hear the young tellers refer to Joe as a 'studburger' or 'manmeat on a stick'. With the right casting, this would be a hell of pilot for the Elvis and Joe Show. But I am more than content to have the story between covers, because how these days how many books do I simply sit down and read to the end before getting up? Not too many.

Dangerous Man by Robert Crais
Simon & Shuster, £16.99, ISBN 9781471157615

Note: This review will also appear at Crime Time (

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