Joe Pike, Two Bullies, and a Stolen Car

Read on for Jeffrey B. Burton's essay about failed attempts to emulate Joe Pike, and comment on this post for your chance to win a copy of each of his Mace Reid K-9 mysteries, including his new novel, The Lost, starring an extraordinary cadaver dog and her handler.

Ballsier than any Clint Eastwood line from the Dirty Harry franchise is one I read in the Robert Crais novel L.A. Requiem. Joe Pike had been framed for murder and, enroute to jail, pulls off a daring getaway. When questioned why he escaped by his private eye partner Elvis Cole, Pike ultimately responds “I don’t do victim.”

Did you hear that?

“I don’t do victim.”

Perfect.

For weeks after reading L.A. Requiem, I walked about both home and office mumbling that to anyone who deigned crossed my path, no matter what the context.

“Should we have pizza for dinner?” my wife would ask.

I’d glare at her and state, “I don’t do victim.”

A colleague would query, “Have you reviewed the quarterly reports, Jeff?”

“I don’t do victim,” I’d say as I muscled past them on the way to refill my coffee mug.

“Are you driving me to practice tonight?” my daughter would ask.

I’d toss the car keys on the floor with a curt, “I don’t do victim.”

Alas, unlike Joe Pike from the brilliantly thrilling Robert Crais mysteries, I punch like a hamster and my default setting is flight. And as much as it pains me to admit this, but, well . . . it turns out I do do victim, and have done so since kindergarten.

When I was five-and-a-half, the paperboy nearly strangled me to death.

Sure, the older kids, my alleged friends, in the community housing project egged on the youngest of us all—to wit, yours truly—into rolling the newsboy’s bike and satchel of afternoon dailies onto the lawn in front of a sprinkler while he was off delivering an armful of newspapers inside one of the apartment buildings. The older kids who got the ball rolling scattered like pigeons when the paperboy came charging out the side of the facility and caught me in midflight. I can empathize with his predicament—performing a job he likely despised, only to discover a wet bike and soaking bag of newspapers awaiting him—but upping the ante to homicide seemed a tad excessive.

Joe Pike would no doubt have instantly had the enraged paperboy by the gonads. I, however, lay pinned to the ground, the kid’s ever-tightening fingers clutching about my throat; my eyes bulging like a frog that’s been stepped on, my final moments spent peering deep into the abyss of the saliva-dripping maniac atop me.

And then . . . deus ex machina.

A random neighbor lady yanked my would-be assassin off me. She shouted into the brute’s face and sent both him and his dripping bicycle packing. Then she brought me to her apartment, made sure I was breathing okay, put some ointment on the bruises around my neck, and gave me a cup of grape Kool-Aid.

Though I never saw the neighbor lady again, on the rare occasion I find myself with a glass of Kool-Aid in hand, I’ll raise it in silent tribute to that kindly woman who saved my life. Someday I’ll write an epic poem about the neighbor lady, but . . . until then . . . this will have to do.

We moved to the suburbs the summer after I turned seven. There was a batch of kids my age to play with, a lake a block away, as well as parks, bike trails, and acres of woods to hide in.

What could possibly be better?

Then I crossed paths with Randy the Barbarian.

Randy was twelve, and if Randy ever caught you—the neighbor kids warned me—he’d sit on your stomach and give you heart taps (punch at where your rib cage connected). The neighbor kids spoke of hiding cyanide capsules inside their teeth, to be popped in the event they ever got caught by Randy.

I thought my new friends were joshing, blowing things way out of proportion, that is, until the day Randy caught me. I turned around and there he stood, towering above me, as though he’d morphed from out of the street itself. Bawling like a newborn, I was lucky my older sister and her gaggle of friends teamed up to pry Randy off me after a mere handful of heart taps.

Flash forward five years. I’m in seventh grade, walking home from a friend’s house, and I spot Randy, now a senior in high school, heading in my direction. I veered into the middle of the street in order to steer clear of him, but genuinely thought enough time had passed since we were kids, and that we’d both moved on with our lives.

Randy had not moved on.

Instead, Randy also veered into the center of the street, grabbed my shoulder, and punched me in the stomach as hard as he could. In an odd manner, I respect his having skipped any words of preamble—Randy cut straight to the assault.

Now Joe Pike would have thrown a right hook and crushed Randy’s jaw. I, on the other hand, lay on the road, gasping for air. When I made it home, I stumbled into the bathroom and threw up.

Sure, I could have informed my parents, and police could have been notified, and Randy could have been picked up. Sure, I could have hoped that Randy’s birthday had been earlier in the school year, so it’d make him an adult male assaulting a seventh grader, but, like all the neighborhood kids before me . . . I recognized Randy’s feral nature.

Quite frankly, Randy wasn’t right in the head and if I had him arrested for assault, heart taps would be the least of my concerns. It wouldn’t end there . . . and it would not end well.

Randy would go to the mattresses.

I’d never be safe again.

Years later, I’m sixteen and washing dishes at a mall restaurant. There was a girl—Lisa something or other—I’d taken a fancy to. She was a year older and went to a neighboring high school. I was on the cusp of asking her out—we got along great—and knew my friends would be jealous when they found out I was dating an older woman.

So, one night after closing the restaurant, I strolled out to my car, nary a care in the whole, wide world, life was beautiful, and . . . and there’s no car.

No . . . fucking . . . car.

I go back inside, let the few remaining employees know my car’s been stolen. Lisa grabs her jacket and proceeds to drive me around the parking lot of the entire mall—as if I’d somehow forgotten I’d parked eight-hundred yards away. Eventually, Lisa drove me to the police station where I faced the delightful opportunity of phoning my father at one in the morning, waking him up, and informing him he no longer had to fret about how much gas the family station wagon guzzled.

That was a fun night.

By that point in time, Joe Pike would have already hunted down the car thieves and disposed of their bodies. I, however, sat by my lonesome self in the police station waiting for my parents to come and pick me up.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Lisa never spoke to me again. Evidently, and I’m a little hazy on this part as my freaking car had just been stolen, I went the full De Niro as Lisa drove me around the mall in search of the stolen station wagon, spewing every four-letter word known to man.

Not only did I lose the car that night . . . I lost the girl.

Joe Pike wouldn’t have lost the car. And he sure as shit would not have lost the girl.


Enter the Sweepstakes!

Sign in and comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of each of Jeffrey’s Mace Reid K-9 mysteries, including The Finders, The Keepers, and The Lost!

To enter, make sure you’re a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

The Lost Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at  beginning at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) June 3, 2022. Sweepstakes ends at 3:59 p.m. ET June 17, 2022. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271.

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Comments

  1. barber chairs for sale

    I want you to thank for your time of this wonderful read!!! I definitely enjoy every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff of your blog a must read blog

  2. haredog

    I think we (we males) would all love to be Joe Pike. It would also be pretty special to have a pal like Elvis close at hand. Robert Crais has created a wonderful pair. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. shok sandesh in hindi

    nice post

  4. Aliston Andy

    A handbag carried during the day is usually larger than the one that you’ll be taking to dinner. No matter what the occasion, it is never appropriate to put one’s handbag on the table-it is considered extremely rude no matter how expensive or beautiful it is. We often place our handbag on the kitchen counter, a bench, and some even momentarily meet the floor so for hygiene reasons alone, it is not acceptable.

  5. Deborah D

    You are a new author to me. Can’t wait to read your books.

  6. crystle tellerday

    i love dogs

  7. Vesna Dan

    This sounds like such a great read! You are a new to me author, thanks for the chance to win a book!

  8. Marci Cornelius

    This sounds great. I am excited to read it

  9. ellie lewis

    A captivating and memorable post. Entertaining and amazing.

  10. John Deal

    Sounds lie a great book

    • John Deal

      Sounds LIKE a great book

  11. Cindi Hoppes

    This book sounds like a great mystery with fascinating characters. This is a book that is a genre that I enjoy reading!
    Thanks, Cindi

  12. Jill Mannix

    I want to read this book

  13. Elaine Needelman

    Love the Mace Reid K-9 mysteries! Can’t wait to read The Lost!

  14. Paul hammerschmidt

    Love Joe pike books and your k9 books

  15. Joe Titone

    Great Prize!

  16. Robin Weatherington

    I can’t wait!

  17. Roxana Garcia

    Sounds like any enjoyable read

  18. Jerry

    Always anticipating more

  19. Laini

    A wonderful feature which I enjoyed.

  20. LeAnn

    Can’t wait to read this book!

  21. Laurie Blum

    All sound terrific, love to read & review!

  22. Steph

    This book sounds really good from the excerpt.

  23. Cherisse T.

    Excited for this! Thanks for the chance!

  24. Anita Nowak

    I would love to read this book. Sounds Great

  25. Gayle

    Would love to read your books! Thanks for having the giveaway!

  26. Kim

    I enjoyed the K9 mystery I read and look forward to the rest of the series.

  27. Patsy

    Animals and mystery,my two favorite genres together at last! Thanks:)

  28. Jennette Sigler

    In for the win…

  29. Michelle Danielson

    This sounds interesting! Would love to read it.

  30. Ann Peters

    I have not read these books before, but am going to order one now!

  31. Lori P

    Looks like a compelling series, made all the better with a talented doggo!

  32. raisinpie

    Mace-Reid-K 9 Mysteries -love dogs they are the smartest!! love to win

  33. Judy McNamara

    I am a true dogaholic, your books are new to me! Would love to read them. They sound like something I would like!

  34. Janice Milliken

    He has my attention

  35. Tarl Hutchens

    Sounds right up my alley! Would love to win, but will make sure to pick them up either way.

  36. Richard L Cowart

    Interesting read and we all feel that way some time. Looks like a good book

  37. Barbara Bibel

    Sounds like fun. My dog wants to know when the canine will appear.

  38. vickie dailey

    this sounds like a book that came from a great start – every hero needs to start somewhere – I love dogs as well – so I believe that I would thoroughly enjoy this book thanks for the great excerpt

  39. MaryC

    Was the car found later?

    • Jeffrey B. Burton

      A few weeks later, but it was totaled.

  40. Stephanie Frost

    Awesome! I would love to read them!

  41. Jason Carlson

    Great story, I am excited to read the new book. Thanks for the opportunity to win books!

  42. amy mara

    sounds good

  43. Nancy Jones

    Sounds like a great read.

  44. cee76

    I enjoyed your article, and am looking forward to reading your new book!

  45. Julie

    Looking forward to reading a new canine mystery series!

  46. renee mirsky

    Always enjoy books with animals!

  47. Lindsay Fairbrother-Henige

    I’d love to read this series!

  48. Shannon Wise

    I had a bully in kindergarten. He was a fifth grader. He took my lunch money. He took my allowance, buy a pack of gum and give me one piece. When I think about him, I always reassure myself that he’s in prison and I’m not.

  49. Vicky Brown

    Looks like a great read

  50. Peggy Huey

    Setting up what looks to be a fascinating read!

  51. jane

    haven’t read this serious but sounds like I would like to read this book.

  52. Portia Asher

    If your books are as well written as the article, I want to read them..

  53. Wendy Browne

    The bully stories were both terrible and intriguing.

  54. book-chick-annie

    Great article. And I love “I don’t do victim”. Obviously it can be used in so many situations. LOL
    Thanks for the chance to win.

  55. ireadbooks

    Joe Pike may be cool, but it’s way better to be a nice guy throughout your life.

  56. Linda Peters

    First time reader for this one, sounds great. Thanks for the chance

  57. Marissa Yip-Young

    Looks interesting

  58. deazinn

    I’ve really enjoyed these books so much!! Thanks for the chance to own them!!

  59. Katie

    I loved the essay and i hope to read the books!

  60. ravensfan

    I would love to win these books.

  61. Craig Clarkson

    I picked up one of his books at the airport that someone left on a seat and could not put it down…More Please

  62. Rena Sollish

    Looks like interesting books.

  63. Marsha Kamish

    As someone else said, dogs and mysteries – the best in my book(s). Sorry for the pun. 🙂

  64. LSUReader

    You’re comparing yourself to some pretty stiff competition in Joe Pike! (I love him.) Was Jack Reacher unavailable? Really enjoyed your column. Thanks.

  65. Alicia

    Love the idea of a cadaver dog theme. Will have to check out this series.

  66. Lynn Brown

    A dog always makes a story better. It sounds good.

  67. Susan C.

    I have a feeling this will be a fast mover in my Little Free Library #66281. Hopefully, it will generate some sales and discussion among the neighborhood.

  68. LuAnn Morgan

    Just lovely! Being bullied is no fun. That’s why I learned not to allow it — well, to a point. I mainly wanted to protect my little sister, but I forgot about myself.

  69. Kaye Killgore

    You are a new author to me, and your series looks interesting.

  70. Shirley Evans

    You books sound so good with characters that I am sure to enjoy. Thanks for the chance to win.

  71. Lynne Powell

    I loved following your tale of being bullied and wondering “What would Joe Pike have done”. It’s not easy growing up, for sure. I was enthralled and looking forward to reading your book!

  72. Jo Ann Riggs

    I would love to read these books!

  73. Tim Spitale

    I loved the essay and look forward to reading your work!

  74. Guardofhonor1

    What a terrific tease I want more, there were many Randy’s in the town where I grew up fortunately for me and my friends I was the opposite of Randy the barbarian and I always had the little guys back, that I can say was because of watching my father around people he would not put up anyone being abused or hassled by a bully and he taught me that most bullies are not tough at all, thanks dad

  75. Daniel

    What a terrific tease I want more, there were many Randy’s in the town where I grew up fortunately for me and my friends I was the opposite of Randy the barbarian and I always had the little guys back, that I can say was because of watching my father around people he would not put up anyone being abused or hassled by a bully and he taught me that most bullies are not tough at all, thanks dad

  76. K9507

    Well there you go then! You aren’t Joe but now you have something to work for! I worked an HRD dog so I’m interested in how your dog alerts!

  77. Linda Jo Block

    This would be a worthwhile and important book club discussion.

  78. LINDA COSBY

    This appears to be a good read.

  79. Susan Porter

    These look so good! I just bought the first 2 books in the series because I want to read them in order.

  80. Beth Talmage

    I love dogs, and I love series, and the chance to win each book in a new-to-me series featuring a dog is very exciting!

  81. tiggrztail

    I just found myself a new author to read! Joe Pike sounds like an awesome character. Add dogs to the mix, and it’s a must-read for me.

  82. john papp

    Looking forward to a new to me k9 story.

  83. Benjamin Thomas

    I really like the Robert Crais novels too. I wish they would make his books into a high-quality TV series ala Michael Connelly’s Bosh and Lincoln Lawyer series.

  84. bill norris

    I could see this as a tv series!!

  85. Peter W. Horton Jr.

    I loved this post! I want the book!!

  86. Jenne Turner

    Thank you for the chance.

  87. nancy glessner

    Joe Pike and Elvis Cole are so good together!!

  88. Beverly Laude

    Sounds great! I love Joe Pike, so I’m intrigued

  89. karenh1221

    This book sounds exciting to read and would be a nice prize to read.

  90. Patricia G Stahlhut

    sounds interesting – thx for the info

  91. Ron Ablang

    Good luck to all.

  92. Crystal Blackburn

    I enjoyed the post. I find books with Joe (and Elvis) to be very entertaining. I absolutely hate bullies. They deserve some non-lethal Joe Pikeesque action to show them the error of their ways. I’m only partially kidding.

    I’m going to have to look into your books now. If they are anywhere near as entertaining as this post, I’ll be happy. Plus I love mysteries with smart animals.

  93. Jackie Wisherd

    Wow. What a childhood. Mine seems dull compared to what I just read. Glad you survived it all. I would love to read one of your books.

  94. Debbie Hagedorn

    Many times, I’m sad that I grew up as an only child, on a farm….by myself…..just a cat for company. Then I read about experiences like these, and I’m ok. Thanks!

  95. Alyson Widen

    Looks like a read that has well developed characters. It reminds me of the Peter Falk in the TV show Columbo, when he’d turn just before leaving and say, I have one more question.

  96. Laurel Whitney

    This is a very real character that I think many can identify with.

  97. Julie McDonough

    Glad you came out of all this ok, and with a sense of humor too. I had my fair share of bullies growing up, most ended up in jail. I enjoy mysteries, and I look forward to reading The Lost.

  98. Sally Schmidt

    Couldn’t stop laughing, and you’re right, you’re no Joe Pike! Would love to win these books, thanks for the chance.

  99. Jeana

    This is a new author to me.

  100. MaryLynn Hayes

    I love K9s and mysteries so this sounds like a win win!

  101. Stephanie Cockerham

    This sounds so exciting, l would love to read this book!

  102. Kellie O'Connor

    I love dogs and mysteries. Put together sounds fantastic! I have honestly never won a sweepstakes,I would love to win this one!!

  103. CrystalGB816

    Great post. I think we would all like to be like Joe Pike when faced with difficult situations.

  104. Monica H

    I enjoyed the post and want to read the book!

  105. Daniel Eacrett

    Looks interesting!

  106. Kat

    Great post. “I don’t do victim.” I may have to borrow that.

  107. Liz

    Love this, looking forward to reading the book!

  108. Julie

    I hope I win!

  109. jamezcamf

    I want to try the Mace Reid series.

  110. Susan Morris

    I think I would have been the victim, also. Not until I became an adult did I take up for myself. Thank you for sharing this story and looking forward to reading this book!

  111. Kim A.

    I’ve read both of your Mace Reid books and can’t wait to read The Lost. I, too, would love to emulate Joe Pike, but rarely act that way. In my mind I’m a badass, but in truth I’m more like Chicken Little.

  112. Kat Sadi

    i would love to win the books, they sound really good.

  113. Deb Carr

    I so want to win these books. I am an avid reader and always looking for a great author and book

  114. Jeffrey Hersh

    Crais is one of our favorite authors. We read everything he writes, so if you are anywhere near as good, worth a read.

  115. Danielle Hammelef

    I can’t wait to read this book!

  116. Becky Hantsbarger

    Absolutely PRICELESS! Thank you for the sympathetic chuckles. If you books are anything like your essay, I can’t wait to read them!

  117. Shelly Borella

    Thanks for the chance to win! The book sounds great!

  118. Tawney Mazek

    Very enjoyable essay (coming from a kid who was always the littlest tomboy in the class and got bullied for it). So I’m guessing the books are enjoyable too. I’ll have to find out.

  119. Teresa Warner

    I enjoy discovering new authors, enjoyed the post!

  120. Alice

    I’m not sure how I missed this K-9 series, but I’m thrilled to be discovering it now. As for, “I don’t do victim,” victimhood has been a big psychological…er…”hobby” of mine to investigate. I’d love to win, but will check out the series either way!

  121. sandra burns

    Love K-9 dogs! I believe I have read some Joe Pike books before. I read so many. Ty for the chance.

  122. carloshmarlo

    Sounds like a great prize for all of us dog-lovers and judging by the response there are a lot of us. Thanks for the chance to win these cool books!!

  123. LeMinou

    Sounds great. Fantastic cover!

  124. susan beamon

    I like the Joe Pike books. I like many different ‘tough guy’ books. They are fun to read and, for a few moments, think I could be tough like that. I also read many first responder dog handler books. I like to keep my dogs in the pages of a book. Less for me to clean up after the walks I don’t want to take.

  125. Eileen M Frazier

    I have always preferred Joe Pike to Elvis Cole ever since I read the Monkey’s Raincoat almost 20 years ago. This writer has an excellent grasp of Joe Pike’s code.

  126. CarolK

    You got me at “my default setting is flight.” That’s my mode.
    You may not be Joe Pike but you write darn well.

  127. Christine R.

    Sounds like some experiences a friend of mine had when he was younger!!

  128. Bill

    Ok, now I’m interested in finding out how it ends.

  129. MADORAN

    I would love to win this sweepstakes! I am an avid reader and always looking for new authors to experience.

  130. Desmond Warzel

    Awesome!

  131. BookFun

    Sounds like a fascinating series!

  132. Dawna Capps

    I love Joe Pike and Elvis Cole. Now I must add you to my TBR list.

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  139. M Thompson

    Enjoyed Jeffrey Burton ‘s amusing intro to Joe Pike. Would like to read the books; thanks for the giveaway!

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  141. Lori Byrd

    This sounds really great. You are a new author to me. I love books with dogs in them.

  142. Christal M

    Would love to read this!

  143. Mary Jane Pike

    I love these books! Great mysteries and animal friendly!

  144. Julie Parrish

    Sounds like a great book!

  145. Susan Pertierra

    A man and his dog solving mysteries? Sign me up!

  146. Twila Mason

    This sounds like a great read.

  147. Denise C

    Sounds good – hope I win!

  148. Carl White

    I wanted to be a cadaver dog when I was growing up.

  149. Leela

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  150. Christine Claridge-Kempt

    Great idea and I am looking forward to reading this one!

  151. definately enjoy every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff of your blog a must read blog!

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