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Book Review- “The Promise” by Robert Crais

The PromiseThe novels of Robert Crais are one of the reasons why I’m a crime fiction fan. That’s because one Saturday afternoon I was walking through my library’s mystery section looking for something to read and I came across “Stalking the Angel,” the second book in his series starring Los Angeles P.I. Elvis Cole and his partner, bad-ass ex-marine and ex-cop of few words Joe Pike. I was hooked and immediately devoured the rest of the books in the series that had been released at that point.

Over the years I’ve kept up with Crais’ work. His novels have always been entertaining and packed with interesting characters, but over the last few years something really exciting has happened. Crais, who was already great to begin with, keeps getting better and better.

His last Elvis Cole novel “Taken,” which employed multiple perspectives beyond just Elvis’ first person one was amazing. Then his follow up, “Suspect,” which introduced readers to Los Angeles police officer Scott James and his new K-9 partner, Maggie, was awesome and heartbreakingly beautiful. It featured chapters from both Scott and Maggie’s point of view, and the chapters from Maggie’s perspective were so well written and perfectly captured a dog’s sense of loyalty to their pack and how their sense of smell colors the way they perceive the world. In Crais’ latest novel he brings Elvis and Joe and Scott and Maggie together and the result is another powerful, exciting, and incredibly moving tale.

I can’t say much about the plot of “The Promise” because that would robert_craisspoil some of the book’s fun reveals, but early on Elvis is hired by a client to find a missing woman. The initial trail takes him to an Echo Park house on a rainy night. It’s there where Cole’s path intersects with Scott and Maggie and a vicious career criminal. What follows is a compelling hunt for the truth as Elvis, Joe, Scott, and Maggie try to uncover what really happened in Echo Park and stay out of a criminal’s crosshairs.

In “The Promise” Crais once again masterfully employs multiple perspectives. We of course get to spend time with Elvis and his first person perspective, but we also get to follow Scott, and once we again we get to see the world through Maggie’s eyes and nose. The fact that some of my favorite chapter’s in a crime novel come from a dog’s P.O.V. really says something about how great of a writer Crais is and how much he understands dogs.

I was also excited that we got some chapters from the perspective of Elvis and Joe’s ally, Jon Stone, an ex Delta Force operator and soldier of fortune, who Crais really started to explore in “Taken.” In “The Promise” we get some more insight into what makes Jon tick and what he’s capable of. It’s pretty fascinating stuff. I hope Crais continues to write about Stone. I would even love to see a novel where he plays a starring role.

The Promise” also features chapters from the points of view of new characters and a character we’ve met before that we only got to see through another character’s eyes. The new character is the book’s villain, Mr. Rollins. He’s another character I can’t say too much about except that he reminded me of a nastier version of Neil McCauley, Robert Deniro’s character from Michael Mann’s masterpiece “Heat.” The familiar character is Scott James’ sergeant, Dominick Leland, who we met in “Suspect.” Leland is a great character and I loved the chance to step into his world for a chapter and see just how much dogs mean to him.

Again, I have to be vague about the plot and the action of “The Promise” because I don’t want to take away any enjoyment from reading the book, but what I can say is this is a book loaded with emotional power. Crais expertly conveys the drives of all his characters. It’s powerful, haunting, and in some cases so moving you may want to have some tissues nearby to wipe your eyes. That emotional resonance gave the narrative power and momentum. It made for a quick and highly enjoyable reading experience.

So once again I’m happy to report that with “The Promise” Robert Crais has delivered another fantastic crime tale, and continues his streak of getting better and better with each novel. It’s an exciting thing to have happen to one of your favorite authors and I can’t wait to see where Crais takes his readers next.

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