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Robert Crais Books in Order

Robert Crais, born on June 20, 1953, in Independence (Louisiana), is an American writer of detective novels.
Biography

He pursued higher education in engineering at Louisiana State University while continuing to dream of becoming a writer. He published a few short stories in magazines and made amateur short films.

He lived in Louisiana until 1976, the year he moved to Hollywood where he contributed to the writing of television series like Baretta, Quincy, Cagney and Lacey, Miami Vice, The Twilight Zone, and Hill Street Blues until the mid-1980s. He then abandoned this sustained activity in favor of writing detective novels, although he still wrote TV movie scripts. From the following decade onwards, he provided a few rare scripts for television, particularly for L.A. Law, and devoted himself almost entirely to literary writing.

His very first novel, Trauma, was published in 1984, but it was with the next one, Watch Out for the Bullfighter (1987), that he gained fame. This book and most of Robert Crais’ publications feature the private detective duo Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. Carol Starkey, a policewoman in love with Cole, makes a few appearances in this series and is also the heroine of An Angel Without Mercy (2000).

First Book and Main Characters

Robert Crais’s first book introduced us to private eye Elvis Cole and his taciturn partner Joe Pike. Cole is a native of Louisiana with a penchant for snappy one-liners and an affinity for the quirkier side of life, whereas Pike is an ex-police officer, a man of few words but decisive actions. The Joe Pike series, a spin-off, further explores the character’s history, motivations, and his secret life.

L.A. Requiem

Arguably one of the most seminal works in the Elvis Cole series is L.A. Requiem. Here, the plot centers around the murder of Karen Garcia, a significant person in Joe Pike’s life. This book not only received an Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original but was also a finalist for a slew of other awards from the Mystery Writers of America. The storyline gives us a glimpse into Pike’s past as a police officer in Los Angeles, and his elite plainclothes unit’s fall from grace.

Female Characters

It would be an oversight to discuss Robert Crais’s books without mentioning his nuanced female characters. From Dru Rayne in the Joe Pike series to Jennifer Sheridan in L.A. Requiem, and single-mother Devon Connor in The Wanted, Crais provides a diverse array of women who are complex and compelling.

Awards and Recognition

Crais has been the recipient of the Ross Macdonald Literary Award, a testament to his contribution to the genre. Additionally, his accolade as a Grand Master from the Mystery Writers of America cements his legacy. Not to be forgotten, his work has often found a place on the New York Times bestseller lists.

Television Background

Before venturing into the world of novels, Crais worked on popular television shows such as Cagney & Lacey and L.A. Law, even receiving an Emmy nomination. His writing in these early days was influenced by greats like Ernest Hemingway, Dashiell Hammett, and Robert B. Parker, which provided a sturdy foundation for his novels.

Not Just About Humans

Animal lovers will appreciate Crais’s Suspect and The Promise, featuring Maggie, a German Shepherd with a gunshot wound, who helps solve crimes. This storyline, known as the Maggie series, shows Crais’s ability to imbue non-human characters with depth and emotion.

Additional Characters and Plots

Crais’s stories go beyond the usual private investigator tales. From Frank Meyer, a former mercenary in The First Rule, to Max Holman, a man looking for his missing son in The Two Minute Rule, to Jeff Talley, a former SWAT officer in Hostage, Crais expands the canvas of his storytelling. In The Sentry, Cole and Pike are drawn into the life of Nita Morales, a single mother looking for her missing husband.

The Order of Elvis Cole & Joe Pike Books

The Monkey’s Raincoat -1987 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Sale
The Monkey's Raincoat (Elvis Cole)
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 237 Pages - 03/01/1992 (Publication Date) - Crimeline (Publisher)

Stalking the Angel -1989 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Stalking the Angel
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 04/24/1999 (Publication Date) - Orion Pub Co (Publisher)

Lullaby Town -1992 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Lullaby Town
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 04/24/1999 (Publication Date) - Orion (Publisher)

Free Fall -1993 —– Buy Now From Amazon

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Free Fall (Elvis Cole)
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 04/01/1994 (Publication Date) - Crimeline (Publisher)

Voodoo River -1995 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Voodoo River
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 04/25/2024 (Publication Date) - Orion Paperbacks (Publisher)

Sunset Express -1996 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Sunset Express (Elvis Cole)
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 01/25/2005 (Publication Date) - Ballantine Books (Publisher)

Indigo Slam -1997 —– Buy Now From Amazon

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Indigo Slam (The Elvis Cole)
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 307 Pages - 02/04/2003 (Publication Date) - Fawcett (Publisher)

L. A. Requiem -1999 —– Buy Now From Amazon

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L. A. Requiem (Elvis Cole)
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages - 02/01/2000 (Publication Date) - Ballantine Books (Publisher)

The Last Detective -2003 —– Buy Now From Amazon

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The Last Detective
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 03/30/2004 (Publication Date) - Ballantine Books (Publisher)

The Forgotten Man -2005 —– Buy Now From Amazon

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The Forgotten Man (Elvis Cole)
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 01/31/2006 (Publication Date) - Ballantine Books (Publisher)

The Watchman -2007 —– Buy Now From Amazon

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The Watchman
  • Hardcover Book
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 02/27/2007 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

Chasing Darkness -2008 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Sale
Chasing Darkness (Elvis Cole Novel)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 07/01/2008 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

The First Rule -2010 —– Buy Now From Amazon

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The First Rule (A Joe Pike Novel)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 308 Pages - 01/12/2010 (Publication Date) - G. P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

The Sentry -2011 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Sale
The Sentry (Joe Pike)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 01/11/2011 (Publication Date) - G.P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

Taken -2012 —– Buy Now From Amazon

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Taken (Joe Pike)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 01/24/2012 (Publication Date) - Putnam Adult (Publisher)

The Promise -2015 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Sale
The Promise: An Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Novel
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 05/31/2016 (Publication Date) - G.P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

The Wanted -2017 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Sale
The Wanted (An Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Novel)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 12/26/2017 (Publication Date) - G.P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

A Dangerous Man -2019 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Sale
A Dangerous Man (An Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Novel)
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 08/04/2020 (Publication Date) - G.P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

Racing the Light -2022 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Sale
Racing the Light (An Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Novel)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 11/01/2022 (Publication Date) - G.P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

The Order of Scott James & Maggie Books

Suspect -2013 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Sale
Suspect
  • Hardcover Book
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 04/25/2024 (Publication Date) - G.P. Putnam's Sons (Publisher)

The Promise -2015 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Sale
The Promise (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike; Wheeler Publishing Large Print)
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 523 Pages - 06/07/2016 (Publication Date) - Large Print Press (Publisher)

The Order of Standalone Novels

Demolition Angel -2000 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Demolition Angel: A Novel
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 395 Pages - 07/03/2001 (Publication Date) - Ballantine Books (Publisher)

Hostage -2001 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Hostage
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 04/25/2024 (Publication Date) - Orion Pub Co (Publisher)

The Two Minute Rule -2006 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Sale
The Two Minute Rule
  • Hardcover Book
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 02/21/2006 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

The Order of Short Stories

The Man Who Knew Dick Bong -2011 —– Buy Now From Amazon

The Man Who Knew Dick Bong
  • Audio CD – Audiobook
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • (Playback Language)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 03/21/2023 (Publication Date) - Brilliance Audio (Publisher)

The Order of Other Books

Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe-2011 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Crais, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 08/03/2011 (Publication Date) - iBooks (Publisher)

The Best American Mystery Stories 2012-2012 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Sale
The Best American Mystery Stories 2012 (The Best American Series)
  • Tom Andes (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 393 Pages - 10/02/2012 (Publication Date) - Mariner Books (Publisher)

Crimespree Magazine #61-2015 —– Buy Now From Amazon

Crimespree Magazine #61
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Holm, Chris (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 171 Pages - 12/01/2015 (Publication Date) - Down & Out Books (Publisher)

The Reading Order

For newcomers, diving into Robert Crais’s books might seem daunting, but the good news is that each novel usually stands alone, allowing you to start with the latest release or from the first book. For those wanting to unravel the mysteries in chronological order, start with the Elvis Cole series, followed by the Joe Pike series, and then the standalone novels.

In the realms of mystery and crime fiction, Robert Crais is a master craftsman, his books providing a cinematic, emotionally charged tour through Los Angeles and the human psyche. With inspirations ranging from Dashiell Hammett to Robert B. Parker, and a repertoire of characters as colorful as the California sun, Crais’s body of work is an essential read for any fans of the genre. Whether you’re intrigued by the dynamics of a home invasion or pondering the complexities of a phone call from a fifteen-year-old girl in distress, Robert Crais’s books offer a journey that is as nuanced as it is thrilling.

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