Exclusive First Look at Robert Crais's FIRST RULE

Photo © Pop Culture Nerd

Last week, author Robert Crais unveiled excerpts from his hotly anticipated novel, The First Rule, at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in San Diego, California. The pub date is vaguely scheduled for January or February 2010. (UPDATE: At Crais’s site, it now says January 12, 2010.) But wait! Stop banging your head against your desk, please! Crais let me tape his reading to share with those who couldn’t attend.

Since this is a Joe Pike novel, I’ll be Pike-like and keep the setup brief. Somebody murdered a friend and former colleague of Pike’s. HUGE mistake. With Elvis Cole’s help, Pike goes hunting, ready to unleash some serious hurt on the perpetrators. Yay!

Crais read three different passages, one in each video. Afterwards, check out the teaser Q & A I did with him about The First Rule. (UPDATE: Win an ARC and read my longer interview here.)

Watch, read, then let me know your thoughts!

PCN: My mother taught me the first rule is to always wear clean underwear in case I get in an accident. What does the first rule in your title refer to?

Robert Crais: The meaning is in the eye of the beholder, so take your pick: The East European organized crime gang sets operate under eighteen written rules called the Vorovskoy Zakon—which means the thieves’ code—the first rule of which says they’re not supposed to have a family. But the title, The First Rule, might also be interpreted from Joe Pike’s point of view, which suggests his first rule is that you take care of the people you love, and everything that implies. And if that’s the case, then the first rule for the rest of us is pretty simple: Don’t piss off Joe Pike.

PCN: In the excerpt, you mentioned how Pike’s walls are empty. Why isn’t Elvis on there?

RC: Elvis is in Joe’s heart.

PCN: What’s on your walls?

RC: I have more people in my life than Joe has. My walls are filled with pictures of my family, my friends, cool things that have happened along the way. Art. A couple of human heads. The usual.

PCN: You seem to take pop culture cues for your author photos. For The Two Minute Rule, it was the Brokeback look, and you’ve got an Agent Smith, Matrix thing going on with the last two books. What do you have in mind for the next one? Lederhosen a la Brüno?

RC: I was going for the lederhosen look until Brüno swiped it. Fashion is such a bitch, I’ve decided to pass on clothes. We’re going with a nude shot.

Look who's nerdy---me & Crais

Look who's nerdy--me & Crais, WITH clothes

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  • Reply
    July 19, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    This is fantastic!!! The video of RC reading the excepts came out great, PCN. Each of the snippets really whets the appetite for more of the Pike novel. How long is it we’re going to wait for this to come out, again? That was also a good bit of stagecraft to have bookstore T-shirt and motto in the background. EAT. SLEEP. READ. Cool picture of the both of you, too. Thanks for this, PCN.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      July 20, 2009 at 7:44 am

      Thanks, le0pard13! The T-shirt with motto in the background wasn’t planned but I’m happy it’s in there because that’s pretty much my motto, too. (Mine might also include a few other verbs.) When TFR finally comes out, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.

      I’m also happy I got to meet you at the reading.

      • Reply
        July 20, 2009 at 7:21 pm

        It was my pleasure to meet you and your friends. You all are class acts 🙂

  • Reply
    Shelley P
    July 20, 2009 at 12:06 am

    What a smorgasbord! The videos are a fantastic inclusion and I love your photo together. Of course I want to read The First Rule when it eventually comes out, even without RC in lederhosen inside the jacket. Thanks, PCN!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      July 20, 2009 at 8:07 am

      I’m glad you like the buffet, Shelley P! Coincidentally, that’s what I ate right before I attended this reading so it must’ve influenced my throw-everything-on-the-table style here.

  • Reply
    Naomi Johnson
    July 20, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Soooooooo good. I am fairly dancing in anticipation of this book. Those excerpts really set the heart beating. Sometimes it must be so hard being Joe Pike. So alone and so hurt. Aw, man…

    And Crais himself? If I could bottle that man’s charm and charisma I could make a fortune.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      July 20, 2009 at 8:15 am

      They are good excerpts, aren’t they? Even better when they’re read by Crais. The way he voices the drunk Jon Stone cracks me up.

      Have you ever tried approaching him with an empty bottle and just asking if you could squeeze a drop of his charisma into it? You’d make a mint on eBay.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Wooooooooo……Haven’t seen you combine this many mediums in a post before. And it’s nice to see your face as part of the post. I’ve seen your picture before, but I’d forgotten what a cutie you were. You made me sit up and straighten my tie! LOL!!

    What do mean the book is “vaguely scheduled for January or February 2010”? Have you seen galleys?

  • Reply
    Corey Wilde
    July 20, 2009 at 9:25 am

    The wait for this book is Killing me. These are great clips, thanks for sharing them.

  • Reply
    Corey Wilde
    July 20, 2009 at 9:26 am

    BTW, what’s up with that bookstore, planting all those Lee Child titles behind Crais???

  • Reply
    July 20, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Nice job, PCN! RC was in rare form and you captured the heart of the event perfectly. The excerpt he read about the blank walls really got me. He’s so masterful at tugging at our emotions in just a few short words. I think this book is going to be really, really, good! That shirt he’s wearing–Nerdy. Ugly. Mean.–are those the qualifications to be in the WGA?

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      July 30, 2009 at 10:03 am

      The tee slogan is the WGA’s response to a rude comment former NBC co-chair Ben Silverman made about writers when the Golden Globes ceremony was shut down due to the writers’ strike. He said “the nerdiest, ugliest, meanest kids in the high school are trying to cancel the prom.”

      Ugh. So glad that guy is outta there.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Being nowhere near San Diego, I was really, really disappointed I couldn’t go to this. Thank you for making it possible for the rest of us to experience it. It almost makes the wait WORSE now that I’ve heard the excerpts but I’m glad to have the sneak peek.

  • Reply
    John Millington
    July 20, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Just like to thank you for bringing the information from the reading.
    I do not even live on your continent to get to one.
    Live near Manchester England and once RC came to Harrogate.
    I was not a reader then so hope he bring this book’s tour to England.
    Got the first taste of RC from The Last Detective bought for just approx $1.64. in the sale section of Asda last November.
    Have read and enjoyed every one of them since then.
    Had not been an avid reader before so did not know which other authors to try but after the previous reading Robert held in San Diego, Pop Culture Nerd wrote the cross talk with three other authors-one being Jefferson Parker-so I thought I would sample.
    I read The Fallen and Silent Joe and have become hooked again.
    Ploughing through all his works,so it is good to have links with people like yourself.
    Looking forward to the release.

    Regards to all


  • Reply
    July 20, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Elyse, THANK YOU for allowing us to have this chance to hear and see RC this way! Am so psyched about FIRST RULE! You did an incredible job – AS ALWAYS – with the interview and photos. Your humor and depth is terrific! This is definitely BOOKMARKED on my PC. You and RC left me smiling, girl!

  • Reply
    July 20, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    PCN– I hit submit before I mentioned how much I loved your questions to RC. In fact, that’s what I love best about your blog==the fun and playfulness. You bring such a refreshing and offbeat (and I mean that in the best possible way) flavor to your interviews and we get to see the playful side of your subjects in their answers. Blog on!

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    July 20, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    BIZMAN5, didn’t you think not long ago that I was a man? 🙂 As for galleys, once they become available, I’ll bribe, beg and steal to get my hands on one. UPDATE: At Crais’s site, cover art and release date have been posted. It’s coming out January 12, 2010.

    Corey, I wanted to blur out those Lee Child books and superimpose some Crais books in their place but I don’t own the fancy software. Nuts.

    MelodyGirl, I’m glad you got to see the reading anyway without having to spend gas (plane?) money. Perhaps you can start a support group with Corey for those suffering from the wait?

    John, wow, thank you. I’m thrilled you’ve discovered the joy of reading through those authors and hope you’ll keep going. Reading can be a lifesaver.

    Debbie and DonnaB, may I state for the record I didn’t promise you new Chevys to say those things? Thank you. Most people I interview have websites that cover the FAQs so I’d rather have some fun.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Can’t believe I missed this. I was actually in the area! URGGGHHH!!!

    Thanks for capturing the moment. I look forward to when the book comes out. Wish it were here now. It might help me weather the heat by keeping my mind off it.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Wow PCN, I was there and yet I still got excited after hearing the clips again. Have to agree with Deb, the Q’s are my favorite part. So do we get to vote…lederhosen or nude? Hmm, I know what my vote is!

    And thx again for the buffet. Gotta love dinner and RC for dessert. Wait, that didn’t come out right.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      July 22, 2009 at 8:17 am

      Haha! Funny username. It’s like something Bart Simpson would trick Moe into yelling out at his bar.

      I think you knew exactly how that sentence would come out and liked it.

  • Reply
    July 22, 2009 at 10:42 am

    LOL, you’re probably right. ;-D

  • Reply
    Jersey Jack
    July 27, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    What a treat! Thanks for letting us hear so much.

    I love what he chose to read — the perfect setup to have us all chomping at the bits. “There’s a shitstorm coming their way…”

  • Reply
    Hugh ODonnell
    August 2, 2009 at 12:26 am

    Hey PCN, Thanks for the heads up on Robert Crais’s new novel. He’s in my top five favorite thriller authors. (I like literate thrillers.)

    I’ve bookmarked his site, and yours too.

  • Reply
    Teri W
    August 2, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Thanks so much for posting this! A new Joe Pike will be just the thing to liven up a cold winter.

    Seeing Crais “live”, instead of just his picture,and for the first time hearing his voice, reminds me he was People Mag’s sexiest author alive a few years back. Still is!

    Teri in Paradise, CA

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    August 4, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Jersey Jack, my bits are so chomped, I have to buy new bits.

    Hugh, thanks so much for the bookmarking! Who else is in your top 5?

    Teri, have you been to the media section on Crais’s site? You can hear his voice there in video and audio clips about his books.

  • Reply
    August 31, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Thank you..
    Can’t wait for the new book.. =D

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      August 31, 2009 at 7:13 pm

      Me, neither. Welcome, Wolfie!

  • Reply
    MI reader
    September 12, 2009 at 9:54 am

    I read for the vicarious justice. Thank you for sharing the excerpts. I look forward to January. I love the Pike and Cole characters. They have heroic hearts.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 12, 2009 at 7:42 pm

      Hi MI, and welcome. I love vicarious justice and Elvis & Joe are among the best to mete it out.

  • Reply
    October 3, 2009 at 5:23 am

    I can’t even listen to Robert Crais read because once I get the book I know I won’t want it to finish cause I have been waiting since the last one came out and I read that in a day!!! PS. Whoever even thinks that Lee Childs has a character even close to Elvis or Joe is soooo wrong, NO ONE COMES CLOSE!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      October 3, 2009 at 9:38 am

      Hi Helen,

      I know what you mean. In a photo someone took at the event, I can be seen standing behind Crais plugging my ears because I didn’t want to hear too much, knowing I’d just be frustrated. Luckily, I’ve had the chance to read it since then and it’s worth the wait. I think you’ll be pulling another all-nighter with this one!

  • Reply
    December 10, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Love Crais! Joe Pike! And Elvis, too! (sung to the tune of ‘Free Falling’ by Tom Petty)

    How cool is it that in the first picture of Crais leaning on the counter in the bookstore that Lee Child novels are all over behind him!? I love Child too! And Jack Reacher!

    Honestly, my two current favorite authors (and James Lee Burke) together (in spirit?) in the same photo.


    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      December 10, 2010 at 10:58 am

      Hi James,

      Yes, Crais and Child pseudo-together in one photo is pretty cool. And I love Tom Petty!

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