The Promise: An Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Novel
THE PROMISE is Robert Crais’ most ambitious and complex work to date. It was only natural that at some point the paths of Crais’ creations --- private investigator Elvis Cole, his shadowy partner Joe Pike, and the recently introduced team of LAPD K-9 Officer Scott James and his German shepherd, Maggie --- would intersect, and indeed they do here. The book reads in some ways like a collaboration, alternating (among others) the noirish first person narrative of Elvis with the straight-arrow person of Scott, who will remind certain readers of the old school Lassie and Timmy in the best ways possible.
Elvis and Scott meet briefly at the beginning of the book. The nexus of their meeting is an otherwise nondescript house in Echo Park where Elvis believes he will find someone who will help him locate a missing woman named Amy Breslin. He has been retained by an extremely high-maintenance client, Meryl Lawrence, who has told him that Amy has embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from her company and disappeared. Scott arrives with Maggie as they pursue a fleeing fugitive.
"For those who have been there with Crais for a long time, we get yet another reminder of why he is one of the best in the business as he ties all sorts of disparate threads together and gives us, after lo these many years and countless books, one of his most outstanding efforts yet."
Neither Elvis nor Scott get what they want. Actually, that isn’t quite accurate. The fugitive who Scott was pursuing is in the house --- very, very dead, and recently so, at the hands of a frighteningly pragmatic and efficient killer who calls himself Mr. Rollins. Scott and the LAPD also find a cache of explosives in the house, and we’re not talking Fourth of July fireworks; these are “clear the neighborhood until further notice” explosives. Given some unfortunate timing on his part, the LAPD thinks that Elvis has something to do with the explosives and the murder of their fugitive.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rollins is concerned that Scott can identify him and is obsessed with taking Scott and Maggie off the radar. It’s one of his cardinal rules, you see: Don’t leave witnesses. Elvis is convinced that his client isn’t being entirely honest with him about everything, from her motive for wanting Amy found to...well, all sorts of things. THE PROMISE is one of those classic mysteries in which the clues leading to the truth are slowly and painstakingly revealed through a number of myriad sources, from shoe leather and internet searches to high-tech gadgetry and good old-fashioned utilization of shoe leather.
What is true and what is false is revealed, as the reader is propelled rapidly through the novel. For those who have been there with Crais for a long time, we get yet another reminder of why he is one of the best in the business as he ties all sorts of disparate threads together and gives us, after lo these many years and countless books, one of his most outstanding efforts yet.
If you are unfamiliar with the Cole/Pike thrillers or SUSPECT, which introduced Scott James, THE PROMISE is a good place to make the acquaintance of Crais and his creations. As for the army of fans Crais has acquired over the past couple of decades and counting, you won’t want to miss his latest and whatever may come next.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on November 19, 2015