Monday, June 17, 2019

Book Review: The Promise by Robert Crais (Elvis Cole & Joe Pike #16, Scott and Maggie #2)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong story, fun with lots of characters we know
Cons: Characters on the thin side
The Bottom Line:
Scott and Cole meet up
On a case that draws you in
Will please fans of Crais

I Promise, This is an Enjoyable Book

I’d always intended to get to the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike novels, but The Promise is the reason that I finally started them.  I had already read (or listened to) most of author Robert Crais’s standalone novels by that point, and knowing that K-9 officer Scott James and his dog Maggie, the main characters from Suspect, were going to feature very heavily in this book motivated me to finally get started, but I held onto this book until I could get to it in order.  It was well worth the wait.

Elvis Cole is hired to find a missing woman.  Sounds like one of his ordinary cases.  The only promising lead is the house that a friend of her late son has rented.  Elvis heads there only to find no one home.  However, before he can leave the neighborhood, the police swarm in.  They are hunting for a fugitive, and he was last seen going into this neighborhood.

Which is how Scott and Maggie get involved.  Maggie is tracking the fugitive, and she leads the police to the house that Elvis had just visited.  Once inside, the police find a dead body.  Then Maggie alerts them to a room full of explosives.  Suddenly, the police are very interested in the man spotted running for the house, a man that Elvis Cole started chasing.  As the danger begins to mount, Scott and Elvis will have to work together if these cases are going to be resolved.

Yes, we are given another fast-paced thriller that keeps our attention the entire time.  Parts of the book are narrated from Cole’s first-person point of view, but we get some passages from other character’s points of view as well, most noticeably Scott and Maggie.  Yes, a few chapters are from Maggie’s point of view, and I enjoyed this take on a dog’s brain and how it functions.  At times, this does mean we get some repeated information as we see a scene from multiple points of view, but each time through, we get a different piece of the puzzle.  Since Elvis and Scott pursue this case from different angles and learn different things, the multiple-viewpoints compel the story forward and makes for a suspenseful book.  And, with clear headings, the breaks are never confusing.

There was one major plot point I thought was a plot hole.  It was driving me crazy.  I’m just going to say that it got resolved to my satisfaction, so if you are getting frustrated by an apparent plot hole, give the book time to work things out.

By the time we reached the end, I was completely satisfied with the story.  I saw one or two minor things coming early, but I was surprised by some other twists.

When I reviewed the previous book in the series a couple of weeks ago, I complained about the characters.  Once again, the emphasis is on the action over character development, but this time it didn’t bother me so much.  I think part of that is because the villains aren’t nearly as despicable and we don’t have passages describing the horrible things they are doing to their victims.  Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of violence, and the villains are still evil.  We just don’t get quite as much nasty detail here.  Also, the foul language has been toned down.  Again, it is still there, but it isn’t as prominent.

The exception to my comment on the characters is John Stone, Pike’s mercenary friend.  We get to see a little depth to Stone here, and I appreciated what we saw.

This audiobook was a first for me – it features dual narrators.  Luke Daniels has narrated the last few books in the Elvis Cole series, and he handles all of the scenes told from Cole’s first-person point of view.  MacLeod Andrews narrated Suspect, which first introduced Scott and Maggie, and he handles all the third-person narrated scenes.  It took me a few switches to get used to it, but they are both capable narrators, and I enjoyed it.  I did find it a little odd when they did each other’s characters, as they spoke in voices I wasn’t used to hearing, but that is a minor complaint.  A little more annoying was the practice of making a character sound like they are talking with their mouth full if they are eating during a scene.

It was nice to finally get to this book and see Scott and Elvis meet, and I hope more cases draw them together.  Fans of any of these characters will enjoy The Promise.

Check out the rest of the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike mysteries.

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