I picked up my first Robert Crais novel a while back when shopping for a new series to read. I've read several then thought I'd start at the beginning. I'm glad that I read later novels first because had I not I probably wouldn't have continued with the series. The story and writing were intriguing, but it seemed that the Elvis Cole character was trying way too hard to be witty and clever even when he needn't have been. Some of his purported "funny" comments were wholly inappropriate for the scenario that was happening at the time. I found it annoying and distracting ... plus the comparisons drawn to Robert B. Parker's Spencer/Hawk dynamic duo in my opinion are off the mark. Spencer's commentary seems effortless and he did not over-state his ability to be quick-witted. I've read all the Spencer/Hawk novels and none of them proved a disappointment. I've read only one of the novels written after Mr. Parker passed away and will not because they're not the same. His was a "voice" that could not be duplicated.
In any event, I'm lining up all the Cole/Pike novels and will continue to read them with gusto. They're well-written, fast-paced and genuinely interesting (particularly to someone who lived in Los Angeles for 20+ years from 1979 - 2000!).