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Book Review - "The Promise" by Robert Crais

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780425298756_p0_v1_s192x300The Promise by Robert Crais is a thrilling mystery.  Fans will enjoy the pairing of the well-written characters he has brought to the page including Elvis Cole, Joe Pike, Scott James, Maggie the German Shepherd, and Jon Stone. The storyline is realistic and action packed, making for an enjoyable novel.

The author stated to, “I saw potential for all three to come together as a group, although Elvis is the featured character. I consider myself their daddy and its all a big playground for me.  I wanted to find a really good believable reason for them to cross paths and did not want it to appear contrived.  Once the notion of explosives found in Echo Park came to me I knew I could bring everything together.  Remember Maggie was an explosive detection dog in the Marines.  After that it was having fun with the scenes.” 

The format of the book has each chapter told from the perspective of a different character.  This allows readers to get into the minds and thoughts of the various personalities.  For those Americans frustrated with the current policies of political correctness and at times having the terrorists appear as sympathetic figures the plot is a welcome alternative.  Its main focus is a grieving mother, Amy Breslyn, who searches for retribution after losing her son, a journalist, in a suicide bomber attack in Nigeria.  Being a chemical engineer allows her the capability to get revenge on the terrorists. Elvis Cole is secretly hired to find her, but his investigation leads to more questions than answers.  He stumbles into a police raid of a house where someone is murdered and a huge amount of explosives have been found.  Being at the wrong place at the wrong time he becomes a person of interest.  Meanwhile the killer targets LAPD dog handler Scott James and his dog Maggie because they are the only ones who can identify him. 

Crais stated, “When I started writing in the late 1980s the subject matter of The Promise was not even on the drawing board.  The impact of terrorism on all of us from ISIS to Al Qaeda has us dealing with certified crazy people.  Through my character Amy Breslyn I can release my anger.  Here is this woman who loses her son, a non-combatant, by a lunatic, a suicide bomber. We all carry Amy’s anger and frustration about what is happening. I hope readers can share and feel what Amy has gone through.”

But more than anything this is a story of commitment, loyalty, and partner devotion.  There are multiple teams at play.  The plot becomes increasingly interesting as the teams cross over and intermingle appearing at times to be an army unit.  But the partners of Scott and Maggie will pull at reader’s heartstrings since they are comrades in arms.  Both have lost their partners, had traumatic injuries, and have nightmares about their experiences.  They also have PTSD and are helping each other heal.  There is a strong bond between them. 

Maggie, the German Shepherd K-9, stole the show by often showing more sense and intuition than her human counterparts. What any dog owner will enjoy is the fact that Robert Crais narrated parts of this story through Maggie's eyes, presenting a humanistic interpretation of her words and thoughts. Crais also writes believable scenes between Maggie and her handler Scott.  It becomes obvious he has done his homework, allowing readers to understand that handlers need to trust their partner’s instincts and not to influence them through some subconscious changes in body language, tone, and movement.

The Promise has compelling characters that enhance the plot.  Anyone wanting an action packed story that is embedded in realism should read this book.  But a word of warning, have the time because readers will not want to put it down.