I was fortunate to receive a signed copy of The Wanted via Barnes & Noble’s website. As a longtime Robert Crais fan, and owning every book he has published, finally landing a signed copy was nice. The Wanted is another Elvis Cole and Joe Pike thriller, although once again Joe Pike plays a third-string quarterback role which continues to baffle me. Cole and Pike together are what makes the series work, and as I noted in a previous post, the more Pike the better. Still, The Wanted is a solid book, and I read it straight through in a matter of hours. Robert Crais is such a fine writer that I recommend this book for anyone interested in creative writing. The characters, descriptions, pacing and dialogue all perfectly meld into a top-level entertainment. The Wanted highlights many of the elements that made the series popular to begin with; namely a wise-cracking private eye, a tight plot, fully-realized action scenes, and Joe Pike. Yeah, I wanted more Joe Pike in The Wanted. So I’m a crybaby. The plot is simple enough – Cole is hired to find a missing kid who turns out to be a burglar who stole something the owners want back so badly they will kill for it. Hardly original, but it’s Crais’ chutzpah and brass that propel the narrative. At times it does all seem formulaic, which the early novels did not. The spontaneity and hardcore violence of Crais’ early novels have been toned down. Yet, I still found The Wanted a pretty damn good book. The Elvis Cole and Joe Pike books are my favorite thriller series alongside the Pendergast series by Preston and Child.