At age 46 Max Holman is being released from prison after serving eight years for a bank robbery, during which he broke the two-minute rule. That unwritten rule says that, during a robbery, the thief has two minutes to finish before the police show up. Why an experienced bank robber made such an amateurish mistake is not revealed until later in the story, but suffice it to say that it has a lot to do with what keeps me coming back to Robert Crais for sheer reading pleasure.
It seems that Crais just can't help creating remarkable heroes, even one as unlikely as an ex-con bank robber. Having worked as a substance abuse counselor in jails and prisons, it is gratifying to see a recovering felon treated humanely. He isn't portrayed as an anti-hero, thumbing his nose at society, but as heroic for displaying the very qualities that make a healthy society work. Some of these qualities were inherent in Holman and some were developed in prison. Some of his heroic behaviors came naturally while others were learned through the rehabilitation process.
Crais also deals expertly with the thought processes, belief system and behaviors of a person determined to make positive choices yet still struggling in the early stages of change. For example, Holman is constantly comparing himself to others and is always coming up short. When feeling reluctant to meet his daughter-in-law's parents, Crais writes, "When Holman passed the gate at Dodger Stadium, he recalled how he and Chee had often cruised the parking lot for cars to steal during the middle innings. Liz's father probably had memories of all-night study sessions, frat parties, and proms, but the best Holman could manage were memories of stealing and getting high."
Upon his release Holman plans to spend time reconciling with his son and start life over, doing things the right way. But the day before his discharge, four Los Angeles Police Department officers are gunned down under a bridge where they had met to have a few beers. One of them is Richard Holman --- the son Max had hoped to reconcile with, the son to whom he wanted to make amends, the son who had sparked the new life and values he was beginning to embrace.
At first the homicide detectives are very helpful and sympathetic, but as Holman starts to question the official explanations of the event and begins investigating on his own, all official help ceases and he is shut out of the case. Desperate for assistance, he turns to Katherine Pollard, the former FBI agent who arrested him eight years ago. She reluctantly agrees, and together they begin to seek the truth.
While fans will miss adventuring with Elvis Cole (the hero of Crais's series books) THE TWO MINUTE RULE is sure to satisfy on many levels, including a tightly woven plot, well-researched background, budding relationships, and the familiar smart alec dialogue we've come to expect from one of our favorite authors.