The First Rule

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 April, 2011, 12:00am


The First Rule
by Robert Crais
Orion, HK$91

If Robert Crais' real-life personality is anything like his writing, then you won't want to meet him in a dark alley - or even a lit one. The former screenwriter's novels are terse, tough and usually nasty. Once you annoy his hero, ex-Marine Joe Pike, he stays annoyed. Forever. So when four mercenaries kill Pike's old comrade-in-arms, Frank Meyer, as well as his family, Pike is not happy at all. Arriving at the crime scene, his course of action is decided: 'Pike wanted to see. He wanted to fix them in his mind, and have them close when he found the men who killed them' - I don't think to commend them on their shooting accuracy. The opening is brutal. Not because of the violence Crais describes, but the violence he inflicts on the English language. Here are the baddies: 'Four-man team. Gloves. Nine-millimetre pistols.' Understandably, Meyer was too busy dying to bother with verbs. I'm not sure what Crais' excuse is. Despite what James Patterson says, short sentences don't always equate to thrills and excitement. But, I do like the moment when Pike tosses his gun to the evil but stupid villain, Darko, only to kick him hard enough to snap 'his humerus like a wet stick'. Yuck.