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Robert Crais Books In Order

Updated on December 9, 2013

Reading The Robert Crais Novels In Order

Should we read the Robert Crais books in order or it doesn't matter really? This is what I've been discussing the other day with a friend who loves the Elvis Cole novels. Personally I think that while it's good to read at least the various series in order, for the sake of continuity, when it really comes down to it, it doesn't matter much.

There are two main series written by Robert Crais, the Elvis Cole novel series and the Joe Pike series, with a few books including both characters, and he also has a couple of stand alone novels.

Latest stand alone novel: Suspect

In fact the very first book I read by Robert Crais was a stand-alone novel called The Two Minute Rule. I liked the book so much that I started to look for all the other books written by this author, and then I discovered just how many great novels I've been missing out on.

So here you will find a list of all his books, both series and his stand alone novels, along with a short review of each, based on me reading the books.

Overview Of The Robert Crais Books In Order

The Elvis Cole Novels In Order Of Publication

  1. The Monkey's Raincoat (Elvis Cole, #1) - The Monkey's Raincoat was the first Elvis Cole novel by Robert Crais. It was published back in 1987 (that's a long time ago!)
  2. Stalking the Angel (Elvis Cole, #2) - Book 2 in the Elvis Cole series was first published in 1989
  3. Lullaby Town (Elvis Cole, #3) - Lullaby Town, book 3 in the Elvis Cole series was published in 1992
  4. Free Fall (Elvis Cole, #4) - Free Fall, published in 1993 was book number 4 in the by now popular series by Robert Crais
  5. Voodoo River (Elvis Cole, #5) - The fifth installment in the popular Elvis Cole series, Woodoo River was published in 1995
  6. Sunset Express (Elvis Cole, #6) - Sunset Express is the 6th book in the series, published in 1996
  7. Indigo Slam (Elvis Cole, #7) - Indigo Slam is the seventh book in the Elvis Cole private eye series, published in 1997
  8. L.A. Requiem (Elvis Cole, #8) - One of my favorite books from the entire series, L.A. Requiem is the 8th book and it was first published in 1999
  9. The Last Detective (Elvis Cole, #9) - Book 9 in the Elvis Cole series, The Last Detective, got published a few years later, in 2003
  10. The Forgotten Man (Elvis Cole, #10) - The Forgotten Man, book 10, was published in 2005
  11. Chasing Darkness (Elvis Cole, #11) - Another book that I enjoyed quite a lot, Chasing Darkness is book 11 in the Elvis Cole series. It was published in 2008
  12. The Sentry (Elvis Cole, #12) - While this is the 12th book with Elvis Cole, it's in fact more about Joe Pike, another character by Robert Crais who has is place in his own series as well. For the Joe Pike fans, this is book #3 in the series. Was first published in 2010
  13. Taken (Elvis Cole, #13) - Taken is a recent book by Robert Crais, and while it's the 13th book in the Elvis Cole series, its' also the 4th book in the Joe Pike series. In fact Joe Pike is more prominently featured here as well than Elvis Cole. Published in 2012

The Joe Pike Series In Order Of Publication

  1. The Watchman (Joe Pike, #1) - The Watchman is the first Joe Pike book, published in 2007
  2. The First Rule (Joe Pike, #2) - The First Rule is book #2 in the Joe Pike series by Robert Crais. It was published in 2010
  3. The Sentry (Joe Pike, #3) - The Sentry is book #3 in the Joe Pike series, as well as book #12 in the Elvis Cole series. Published in 2010
  4. Taken (Joe Pike, #4) - Book #4 in the Joke Pike series is also book #13 in the Elvis Cole series. It was published in 2013

Did You Know That

The author first wanted to kill of the character of Joe Pike after the first book, but then he liked it so much that Joe Pike finally got his own series eventually, while also playing a helping role in all the Elvis Cole novels.

Stand Alone Novels By Robert Crais In Order Of Publication

  1. Demolition Angel - Demolition Angel is a stand alone novel written by Robert Crais, first published in 2000
  2. Hostage - Hostage, a stand alone novel, it's so far the only book by Robert Crais that has been also turned into a movie with Bruce Willis. Book first published in 2001
  3. The Two Minute Rule - The Two Minute Rule is the third stand alone novel by Robert Crais, and it was in fact the first one that I read by him. It's what got me hooked on this wonderful author. A great book. Published in 2006
  4. Suspect - Suspect is the latest stand alone novel by Robert Crais, one that has been published just now.

The Elvis Cole Novels

The Monkey's Raincoat

The Monkey's Raincoat (Elvis Cole)
The Monkey's Raincoat (Elvis Cole)

The Monkey's Raincoat is the first Elvis Cole novel by Robert Crais. It was published way back in 1987. I haven't heard of this author until a few years ago when I read one of his standalone novels, and liked it so much that I had to check out everything else that he's written before. And so I came across the Elvis Cole series and started with this very first one.

The book was quite entertaining, and while it was written ages ago, I could already recognize the writing style that I so liked in his other book. Here the story is about drugs, the missing husband and son of Ellen Lang, and about trying go solve the case without involving the police. Even though it was written in the 80s, the language style is modern, with a few flash-back moments of those times (writing a report on a real typewriter). I quite liked this book, reminding me a bit of the Harlan Coben Myron Bolitar series.


Stalking the Angel (Elvis Cole, #2)

Stalking the Angel (Elvis Cole, Book 2)
Stalking the Angel (Elvis Cole, Book 2)

Stalking The Angel is the second Elvis Cole novel, written shortly after the first one. This book is all about finding a lost Japanese valuable manuscript, which makes Elvis get on the wrong side of the Yakuza, the Japanese Mafia, while the daughter of the businessman who hired Elvis Cole in the first place goes missing.

Lots of stuff to deal with, the plot thickens every step of the way, and the the interaction between the two main characters, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike is funny quite a few times. The book definitely had me chuckling from chapter one. A great series, one that I kept reading until he last published book.


Lullaby Town (Elvis Cole, #3)

Lullaby Town : An Elvis Cole Novel
Lullaby Town : An Elvis Cole Novel

The third Elvis Cole novel starts off with a Hollywood director hiring him to find his wife and son, whom he left behind years ago when he went on searching for fame. Now that he has everything, he also wants to get his family back. While the job seems easy enough, soon it turns out to be anything but, when it turns out that the wife is tangled up in mafia business that she can't get out of, and she's mixed up with a real psychopath whom she can't get rid of.

Again a great book by Robert Crais, one that leaves you chuckling every step of the way. The two main characters, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike get a bit more fleshed out and we see the great interaction between them. The quiet and reserved Elvis, and the bad-ass Joe. A seriously fun entertaining book.


Free Fall (Elvis Cole, #4)

Free Fall (Elvis Cole)
Free Fall (Elvis Cole)

In this 4th book in the series a new case awaits Elvis Cole and his partner Joe Pike. Elvis gets hired by Jennifer Sheridan to investigate quietly her fiance, an undercover cop with the LAPD, whom she believes to be involved with corruption and other criminal activities. As soon as Jennifer leaves his PI office, the fiance in question visits the office as well, and informs Elvis that all he's doing is cheating on his girlfriend, there are criminal activities involves, so he should stop the investigation. Of course Cole doesn't believe a word of it, and he's determined more than ever to get to the bottom of things. Things that will get quite hairy soon.

Another great book by Robert Crais, witty, funny and full of great and fast faced action. It's not a boring book at all, and one thing I like about these novels is that there is no fluff, page filler writing. Everything is written with a reason in mind. From the first 4 of the Robert Crais books in order, I think this is so far his best.


Voodoo River (Elvis Cole, #5)

Voodoo River (Elvis Cole Novels)
Voodoo River (Elvis Cole Novels)

The story in this fifth Elvis Cole novels is about him tracking down the real parents of Jodi Taylor, an actress who is starring in a TV show. What initially starts out like a clean and cut job, soon turns out to be, as usual, anything but. Another PI is just as interested in the said medical records of this family, and Cole gets soon involved in corruption, human trafficking and interestingly enough, a budding romance between him and a character which will appear again in later books.

Another fun, witty and full of action book, which is a strong PI mystery,involving a guy who cares so much about his clients, that he can't let go of a case until he rights any wrongs he sees along the way. Just wonderful.


Sunset Express (Elvis Cole, #6)

Sunset Express (Elvis Cole)
Sunset Express (Elvis Cole)

Sunset Express is book #6 in the Elvis Cole series, and I have to say that the series gets better with every new book that I read. Teddy Martin, a very rich restaurateur, is charged with the murder of his wife, but he claims he didn't do it. He asks his attorney to hire Cole because he suspects that the police tampered with evidence in the case. As usual Cole finds more than he bargained for.

Still lots of humor and wit in this novel, but it's a bit more mature and more serious that the previous ones. As you read the books in order, you can see how the writing style also matures with each new written novel.


Indigo Slam (Elvis Cole, #7)

Indigo Slam (The Elvis Cole)
Indigo Slam (The Elvis Cole)

A very interesting start of the new book: Cole gets hired by 3 kids to find their missing father, without knowing that he'll get soon mixed up with the Russian mafia, counterfeit money and a truckload of crime. Added to that is the fact that the kids are actually underage and they should be with the Social Services. He's in a dilemma to tell the authorities about them or not.

Another great story that is full of action, twists and turns, chuckling moments and hard and honest PI work. A great detective novel if I've ever read one.


L.A. Requiem (Elvis Cole, #8)

L. A. Requiem (Elvis Cole)
L. A. Requiem (Elvis Cole)

I loved this book! We finally get to learn a bit more about the strange Joe Pike, especially when Joe is framed for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. Of course Elvis Cole has to solve the crime and find the real killer, so that Joe can go free

A wonderful read, these books are truly getting better and better with every new on in the Elvis Cole series. We see more character development and we learn to care even more about the two main guys. I think this is the first book where the writing style gets a bit darker. Still moments of wit and fun in between, but it gets more serious and more dark. I do like this transition, however.


The Last Detective (Elvis Cole, #9)

The Last Detective
The Last Detective

In this new book, The Last Detective, Cole has to take care of the son of his girlfriend, attorney Lucy Chenier. However the son gets kidnapped right in front of Cole, when he's looking away for just a few seconds. As his relationship with Lucy is already a bit on the edge, so finding Ben is the most important thing Elvis Cole has to do right now. But taking Ben back from the professional soldiers will prove to be everything but easy.

In this book we learn more about Cole's past, as well as about Joe's past, and we learn to care even more for them. Afterall it's more easy to care for someone you know something about than when you know almost nothing, as it was in the first few books. Another great read, one that I really enjoyed.


The Forgotten Man (Elvis Cole, #10)

The Forgotten Man (Elvis Cole)
The Forgotten Man (Elvis Cole)

The Forgotten Man is another great read, one that unveils more of Elvis Cole's past. An old man is gunned down in a back alley and he dies soon after saying that he's looking for his son, none other than Cole. So he now has to find out who was this man and was he really his own father?

This book is more indepth than the previous ones, but in fact I've started to notice that Robert Crais is getting away from the so-called shallow action mystery novels starting from L.A. Requiem. The characters are given more indepth background, history, we learn more about what makes them tick, and all this without letting go of the mystery, suspense and twists and turns part of the story line. A worthwhile read overall.


Chasing Darkness (Elvis Cole, #11)

Chasing Darkness (Elvis Cole)
Chasing Darkness (Elvis Cole)

After the heavier atmosphere in the previous 3 books, Chasing Darkness goes back to the lighter action packed writing that Robert Crais is known for. Here we find again more plots than character development, and this suited me just fine, because I really wanted to read something that left me wondering what next. The story here is intriguing: due to raging fires in the area, the police is evacuating people from their homes. This is how they find Lionel Byrd, dead apparently through suicide, and next to him an album with photos of 7 murdered women. This was the very guy Elvis Cole helped clear his name several years ago. Could it be that he helped a serial killer escape justice?

A great premise for lots of action, great PI work, the usual humor and wit, and just as compelling as the previous Robert Crais books in order.


The Sentry (Elvis Cole, #12)

The Sentry (Joe Pike)
The Sentry (Joe Pike)

This book is in fact more of a Joe Pike novel than Elvis Cole, who does appear in the book, but the action is no longer tied to him that much. Joe is the hero here who stops some gang members from beating a man in his sandwich shop. Unfortunately there is retaliation for this, and Joe now has to find the man and his daughter who have been kidnapped by the said gang. Joe asks Cole for help in finding the two missing persons, but really the focus here is more on Joe, which is great, because I did want to learn more about the elusive and quite guy (who reminds me very much of the rich Wim guy in the Myron Bolitar series).

A great read, again full of action, suspense and twists and turns where you don't even expect them. When you read this book you will find you'll turn the pages fast, just to see what comes next.


Taken (Elvis Cole, #13)

Taken (Joe Pike)
Taken (Joe Pike)

Taken is so far the latest Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novel, which was published in 2012. Again this book doesn't disappoint. A woman asks Cole to find her missing daughter, whom she suspects that she ran away with her boyfriend. Soon Cole and Pike find that in fact both her and her boyfriend have been actually kidnapped by a bandit team, and the things get even more hairy when Cole himself gets kidnapped by the same. And now it's Joe Pike's turn to find not only him, but also the other two missing people.

Here we see Joe in action trying to do almost the impossible in finding his long time partner and the other missing folks. You find yourself turning the pages and almost expecting things to go down the wrong way. The first half of the book is told from Cole's point of view, while the second half, once Cole gets kidnapped, is told from Pike's point of view, which makes for an interesting change of pace. Worth reading!


The Joe Pike Novels

The Watchman (Joe Pike, #1)

The Watchman: A Joe Pike Novel
The Watchman: A Joe Pike Novel

The Watchman is the first novel where Joe Pike takes the lead. Elvis Cole is still around, but no longer the main characters. We learn more about Joe, a taciturn, quiet and dark kind of person, one who gets the job done in a completely different way that Cole. Now he has to protect a rich young woman by the name of Larkin Conner Barkley, who is soon to be a major witness in a federal case. Of course the bad guys are after her as well, so Joe's job is not as easy as it seems.

I loved this book even though it's a bit different from the usual witty, chatty and funny Elvis Cole novels. However if you do like your humor, you will find it here and there throughout the book when Cole appears and now and again to have a chuckling out loud type of conversation with Joe Pike. A totally awesome book!


The First Rule (Joe Pike, #2)

The First Rule (Joe Pike)
The First Rule (Joe Pike)

The First Rule is the second book in the Joe Pike series. I'm glad that Robert Crais gave Joe Pike a few storylines of his own and his own series. He's a great character, one that is revealed more and more in each subsequent book. When an old friend and ex-mercenary partner is killed in his home along with his entire family, Joe Pike has to find out why and to find justice for his murdered friend. Joe enlists the help of Cole, but he's in the front line throughout the book, however.

It is a fast paced book, with lots of action which you can expect from a man like Joe Pike, an ex-military man himself. A rather dark novel with twists and turns, suspense and even lots of blood. Definitely not the easy-going style that Robert Crais was known for in his earlier books.


The Sentry (Joe Pike, #3) and Taken (Joe Pike, #4)

The Sentry and Taken are the 3rd and 4th Robert Crais books in order involving Joe Pike. I have reviewed them above in the Elvis Cole section, but they are here listed again for continuity.

The Sentry (Joe Pike)
The Sentry (Joe Pike)

The Sentry (Joe Pike, #3)


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Should You Read The Robert Crais Books In Order Or You Think It Doesn't Matter?

Should You Read The Robert Crais Books In Order Or You Think It Doesn't Matter?

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Have You Read Any Novels By Robert Crais?

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I've read all except can't find Stalking the angel, Monkeys raincoat & Freefall Love both Elvis Cole & Joe pike

    • Lenskeeper profile image


      6 years ago

      I haven't read any of these, but I'm always open to interesting books to read! Thanks.

    • Camden1 profile image


      6 years ago

      I'm not familiar with Robert Crais at all, but his series sound interesting. I prefer to read books in order, also, so this is a great guide to have. All I need now is some extra reading time!


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