The Promise

promise300Written by Robert Crais — Robert Crais’ Suspect was one of our top books of 2013, and I included it among my top five books of that year. The moving story of how Maggie, an LAPD working dog and her handler Scott James work together to rebuild their lives and solve a crime is the kind that stays with you.

Author Robert Crais has been pretty quiet since then but fans will be delighted with this new addition to his roster of best-sellers. I’ll admit I felt a little disappointed when I read the legend ‘An Elvis Cole and Joe Pike novel’ on the cover. Yes, the pair have been around for 16 novels but I’m afraid they had slipped through my reading net until now. Then I read the blurb and my heart skipped a beat – because Scott and Maggie are featured too!

Elvis Cole is offered a pretty run of the mill job. A woman has gone missing, likely run off with a man she met on the internet, and her boss is worried. So far, so mundane. But then Cole discovers that missing Amy Breslyn works for a defence contractor and is a dab hand at making explosives components and the case takes on a much more sinister edge.

His investigations lead him to a seemingly abandoned property and he is about to leave when all hell breaks loose. The ensuing police operation means he is forced to stay on the scene… and it is here that he and Scott (and Maggie, of course) meet. It’s a dramatic beginning to a relationship that will lead both men into danger before this tale is over.

So where’s Joe Pike in all this? His name isn’t even over the door of the Elvis Cole Detective Agency and he doesn’t get a mention until the ninth chapter. Cole is the frontman while Pike stays in the shadows, and that’s just the way he likes it. The sense of secrecy ramps up another notch when the pair enlist the help of black ops expert Jon Stone to get to the bottom of it all – because believe me, there is plenty more to this case than meets the eye.

This is a complicated, multi-layered story told from a number of viewpoints including that of Maggie the dog. There is a huge cast of characters, all skilfully brought to life by a writer who learned his trade writing scripts for great TV programmes such as Cagney and Lacey, Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice. It is set in and around Los Angeles and the locations are lovingly and lavishly painted by someone who obviously knows the place well.

The Promise of the title applies to almost everyone featured here – but which promises will be kept and which will be broken by the time we reach the heart-stopping finale? You won’t want to stop reading until you find out.

In Suspect, Crais left me in tears; this time I’m in awe of the plotting, writing and sheer hubris of the man. Some crossovers can seem clunky and ill-defined – here we have a masterclass in the concept and I’m hoping upon hope that their worlds will collide again in the future. Please Mr Crais, don’t leave it so long next time!

The Promise is released 14 January. Read our review of Suspect here.

Orion
Print/Kindle/iBook
£7.99

CFL Rating: 5 Stars

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