Joe Pike – ex-cop, ex-Marine, and ex-mercenary – is tasked with the protection of a rich girl, who is a witness in a money-laundering investigation and hence is hunted by killers.
I enjoyed The Watchman, it was a page-turner with a lot of action and an interesting main character. However, the plot has some weaknesses. Especially the start doesn't look very logical when you look back. Also the way he finds out the location of the bad guy near the end of the book doesn't seem very realistic.
Some quotes from the book
He was sorry he lost the Colt. It was a good gun. It had saved them last night in Malibu, but now it might get them killed.
Pike studied the passengers in each vehicle, but none acted like killers on the hunt.
Pike didn't believe he would find anything, but he had to check, so he did, ignoring her. Pike had learned this with the Marines – the one time a man didn't clean his rifle, that's when it jammed; the one time you tape down a buckle or secure your gear, the noise it made got you killed.
"I want to go home." – "They almost killed you at home." – "Now I'm with you and they've almost killed me twice."
When you weren't moving you were nothing but someone's target.
Once you engaged the enemy, speed was everything. Speed was life.
This was a quiet time, and the quiet times in combat were the worst. You might be fine when hell was raining down, but in those moments when you had time to think, that's when you shook like a wet dog in the wind.
The man's price was simple – one day, the man would call with a job for Pike and Pike would have to say yes. The job might be anything and might be the kind of job Pike no longer wanted or did, but the choice would not be his. Pike would have to say yes. That was the price for helping to save Ben Chenier, so Pike had paid it. That word. Yes. One day the man would call and now he had.
It was one of those micro-dogs with swollen eyes that shivered when it was nervous. Pike knew it would bark at the wrong time and get her killed.
Cole realized Pike had hung up. That was the kind of call you get from Joe Pike. You'd answer the phone, he'd grunt something like I'm coming up, and that was it.
"Wait. You shot someone?" – "Five. Two last night, three this morning." Pike, standing there in his kitchen without expression, saying it like anyone else would say their car needed gas.
Staying groovy had nothing to do with being cool. It was an expression used by small recon units and sniper teams in hostile terrain. They would tell one another to stay groovy when the danger level was so insanely high they popped amphetamines to stay awake and ready to rock twenty-four/seven, because anything less would get them all killed.
"You control who you are by moving forward, never back; you move forward."
She said: "Why are you wearing sunglasses in the dark?" Pike said nothing. "What are you doing?" – "Standing." – "You're strange."
It was important to know your enemy.
Cole wasn't worried about being stormed by black-shirted hitters, so he used the gun as a paper-weight to keep the papers from flying away.
The cat didn't answer, which is what you get when you talk to cats.
"We got a hellacious amount of paperwork. That's the worst part about shooting someone, you have all these damned forms."
"Why can't we just go back to the house?" – "Someone is trying to kill you." – "Why can't we just hide?" – "Someone might find you." – "You have an answer for everything." – "Yes."
"Would you like to watch me masturbate?" Pike didn't look at her or respond, though he wondered why she would ask such a thing. She had probably wanted to shock him. Shocking statements probably worked with some people, but Pike wasn't one of them.
Chen hated it when Pike did that – appearing from nowhere as if the freaky psycho had stepped through a hole in the smog. Only an asshole did stuff like that, sneaking up and scaring people, and Chen had been afraid of Pike since they first met.
"Nice clothes. Reminds me of a twelve-year-old."
"Fuck you." – "That's the second time you've hinted at sex, but I still have to refuse."
Putting the gun together was easy. Talking to the girl was difficult.
He worked his jaw, giving Pike the eyes you gave someone when you were telling him you would kill him.
Luis was wearing a platinum Patek Philippe that was so out of place on this man as a diamond on a pile of dung.
It occurred to him then as it had in the past that policemen were people who ran toward danger. Everyone else ran away.
A calm surface could hide great turmoil.
"Let me ask you something – these guys from Ecuador, what are they doing up here?" Pike gave the best answer he could. "Dying."
Pike ignored the way they looked at him, the cop who had caused his partner's death protecting a pedophile.
"Struggle for the gun, my ass. I knew Woz, and I sure as hell know you. If you wanted that gun he would've been on his ass before he could fart."
Nothing smelled worse than the death of another human being. Not horses or cattle or rotten whales washed onto a beach. Human death was the smell of what hid in the future, waiting for you.
Neither Pitman nor Meesh nor the hitters from Ecuador were waiting for him, which was disappointing and predictably normal. Bad guys rarely waited for you. You had to go find them.
She gave him the finger. Cole thought she was great.
Pike always looked strange, but now he looked ever stranger. Cole wondered what was wrong.
Five minutes ago, Cole thought Larkin looked twelve. Now she looked one hundred years old.
The house was so quiet the silence was noise.
Pike's father had been a monster. Her father was a fuckup. Didn't matter. She loved him.
He wanted to hurt the people who were hurting her. He kept reading the pain in her eyes, that she was trapped by herself in a tortured world, alone with a pain no one could share and from which she would never escape. And each time he saw it in her he saw it in himself, and wanted to punish them. He wanted to punish them badly enough that he would become his father to do it, and they would be him.
"You're awfully quiet. Even for you."
Vahnich had made a mistake. That was the problem with talking, and Vahnich had been talking a lot.
Most wore white T-shirts and jeans baggy enough to hide a microwave oven.
Middle of the day, a bright sunny day, and the world was gone to hell.