Synopses & Reviews
Two minutes can be a lifetime.
Ask anyone on the wrong side of the law about the two-minute rule and they'll tell you that's as long as you can hope for at a robbery before the cops show up. Break the two-minute rule and it's a lifetime in jail. But not everyone plays by the rules. . .
When ex-con Max Holman finally gets out of jail, freedom doesn't taste too sweet. The only thing on his mind is reconciliation with his estranged son, who is, ironically, a cop. But then he hears the devastating news: His son and three other uniformed cops were gunned down in cold blood in Los Angeles the night before Holman's release. When the hit is exposed as a revenge killing and the question of police corruption is raised, it becomes a father's last duty to clear his son's name and catch the killer. With all the elements that have made Robert Crais one of the very best crime writers today, The Two Minute Rule is gripping, edgy suspense from the author who sets the standard when it comes to surprising plot twists and powerful characters.
"Two minutes, in and out, that's the rule for robbing banks in this page-turning action ride around L.A. from bestseller Crais (Hostage). Break that rule, and you can end up like Marchenko and Parsons, dying in a violent shoot-out on the streets, the fortune from their string of heists deeply hidden. Max Holman certainly knows the time limit better than most. Dubbed the 'hero bandit' by the press, he got caught during a robbery after he stopped to perform CPR on a bank customer who had a heart attack. About to leave prison on parole, the 48-year-old Max hopes he can establish contact with the son he never really knew, now a cop. When Max's son is murdered, suspected of being in a ring of dirty cops seeking the Marchenko and Parsons loot, Max needs to know the truth. The only person he figures can help him is Katherine Pollard, the fed who nabbed him, who's now ex-FBI and a struggling single mom. The perfect odd couple, they keep this novel personal and real as it builds to an exciting twist on the bank-robbing rule. 200,000 first printing; 15-city author tour. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Like the best L.A. noir writers, Crais nudges the mystery genre into higher gear, tackling grand themes in exceedingly personal ways through flawed heroes and hard-to-spot villains." Los Angeles Times
"The latest Crais book...is a humdinger. It succeeds on superior plotting and characters who grip you early and hold you close to the last page." Boston Globe
"Is The Two Minute Rule passable crime fiction? Of course. Is it Robert Crais at his best? It's been far too many years since we've seen Robert Crais at his best." Portland Oregonian
"In this superb tale...Crais creates a totally believable world in which good and evil are turned upside down." Library Journal
"Crais' 'Elvis Cole' novels are superior to his stand-alone thrillers, but this is his best effort yet in the latter category." Booklist
"Dead cops, dirty cops, an unlikely romance between a law enforcement officer and a tarnished character in the City of Angels it all sounds like L.A. Confidential, and you can be sure that Crais is aiming for the same big-ticket movie sale." Kirkus Reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of The Forgotten Man, L.A. Requiem, and The Last Detective returns with an intense, edge-of-your seat suspense novel. The story begins as bank robber Max Holman is leaving jail, having served his nine-year sentence. He's clean and sober, and the only thing on his mind is reconciliation with his estranged son, who is, ironically, a cop. Then the devastating news: his son and three other uniformed cops were gunned down in cold blood in the LA warehouse district the night before Holman's release. Max's one rule was no violence and throughout his career as a bank robber, he never crossed that line. But now, with the loss of his son and shut out from any information on the case since the police are not interested in keeping ex-cons informed, Max decides there is only one thing to do: avenge his son's death. But he soon finds himself in a web of deceit and corruption as it becomes apparent that the supposed killer could not have murdered his son.
The "New York Times" bestselling author of "The Last Detective" and "L.A. Requiem" delivers his newest work, a brilliantly plotted novel about justice, love, and the sins of a father and son.
About the Author
Robert Crais is the author of many novels, including the New York Times bestsellers The Last Detective, Hostage, and L.A. Requiem. Learn more about his work at www.robertcrais.com.
Reading Group Guide
The Two Minute Rule
By Robert Crais
Max Holman was convicted of armed robbery and served his ten-year sentence. He's clean and sober, his debt to society has been paid. The day he gets out of the pen, the only thing on his mind is reconciliation with his estranged son, who is, ironically, a cop. Then the devastating news: his son and three other uniformed cops were gunned down in cold blood in the LA warehouse district the night before Holman's release. The evidence points to an area gangbanger, Warren Juarez, who was once arrested by two of the officers.
Max's one rule was no violence. Throughout his career as a bank robber, during nine years in the pen, he never crossed that line. But now, shut out from any information on the case (the LAPD isn't interested in keeping ex-cons informed), and the only thing worth living for taken from him, Max decides there is only one thing to do: Avenge his son's death. Kill Juarez.
So begins The Two Minute Rule. As Holman launches his renegade investigation, he realizes there's no way Juarez could have killed his son -- he was across the city, with a valid alibi. Why, then, is the LAPD rushing to arrest? As Max develops his own theories, he unearths evidence of his son's corruption -- devastating news that the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree. It is this that finally moves him to reach out to the woman who put him behind bars -- Katherine Pollard. Soon they find themselves working together to root out the truth, a truth that puts both of their lives very much at risk.
1. What are some of the obstacles that Holman faces as an ex-convict? How does he get around them in his search for Richie's killer? Is it fair that he is treated differently because of his criminal history?
2. When Pollard agrees to help Holman, she feels "as if she had been paroled" (113). What sort of "prison" has Pollard been released from? Discuss the reasons for her new feelings of freedom.
3. Holman always wears "his father's watch with its frozen hands" (180). What is the significance of the broken watch? How does the watch's meaning change over the course of the novel?
4. Holman's brief visit to Union Station and Olvera Street stirs up memories of his parents. What do we learn about Holman's mother and father? Based on what we learn on page 185, what kind of childhood do you think Holman had? How do you think Holman's relationship to his parents affects his identity as a father?
5. What happened ten years ago, when Holman "violated the two minute rule by three minutes and forty-six seconds" (219)? What did you learn about Holman's character from the circumstances of his last bank robbery? How does Holman's robbery compare to the Marchenko and Parsons scene in the prologue? Why does the author wait until Chapter 34 to reveal the full story of Holman's arrest?
6. Holman is afraid that "You just couldn't beat bad blood. 'Like son, like father'" (252). What evidence is there that Richie's fate is determined by genes rather than his environment?
7. Revisit Holman's daring escape from Vukovich, Fuentes, and Random, starting on page 257. What makes this scene so thrilling? How does the author create tension in his description of Holman's escape?
8. Who in this book has "gold fever" (301) -- a desire for money that has made him or her irrational? Discuss this obsession as opposed to Holman's obsessions. Can Holman also be accused of having gold fever? Do you think that Holman's determined search for Richie's killer resembles a "fever?"
9. Holman and Pollard have different approaches to finding Richie's killer. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each character's style of investigation? How do their approaches complement each other? Do you think their success in solving the case bodes well for them romantically?
10. Holman is haunted by a memory of "Richie running alongside his car, red-faced and crying, calling him a loser" (317). Does Holman come to terms with his role in Richie's life, or do you think this image will continue to haunt him? Has Holman redeemed himself as a father by solving Richie's murder? Why or why not?
Enhance Your Book Club:
1. Do you think two minutes is a short period of time? Test the "two minute rule" with your book club! Set a stopwatch for two minutes. Think of all the things you would buy if you had sixteen million dollars, and write down as many as you can in two minutes. Whoever makes the longest list in two minutes gets to pick the next book club selection!
2. Use a detailed map of Los Angeles to mark some of the places featured in The Two Minute Rule: the Los Angeles River Channel, the Hollywood sign, Union Station, Olvera Street, and the Federal Building. You can map these sites online at www.maps.google.com.
3. Does your town or state have a landmark like the Hollywood sign? Do some research on your favorite area attraction, or ask a local historian to speak about it at your book club meeting.