5 stars out of 5
The Elvis Cole Detective Agency is owned by Cole and partner Joe Pike (the secretive Pike doesn't want his name on the door). Cole, though, is the one who's hired to find a missing mother who has never recovered from the death of her son by a suicide bomber. The trail first leads to a seemingly run-of-the-mill house, but the inside tells a different story. As Cole knocks on the door, he hears helicopters and police car sirens - and a man inside runs out. Among the police ranks is LAPD officer Scott James and his dog Maggie, a military-trained German Shepherd who was seriously injured trying to protect her human handler during a tour of Afghanistan.
Those who read another of the author's books, Suspect, will remember James and Maggie (for the record, I loved that one too, giving it 5 stars as well). Here, in trying to catch the fugitive from the house, James gets a too-close look at a man thought to have murdered another man found inside the house. A large batch of explosives is found inside as well, and evidence suggests that the missing mother may be somehow involved. A theory develops that the woman may be attempting to trade stolen explosives for the name of the person who killed her son.
Since Cole was at the scene (also trying to chase down the runaway killer), he finds himself a suspect - at the very least, some officers believe, he knows more than he's telling the police. James, however, leans heavily toward Cole's innocence, as (of course) does Pike, who's been called in by his agency partner to put his special talents into play. The story quickly becomes more complex, to the point that it's hard to tell the good guys and gals from the bad.
Except, that is, for James and Maggie. Just like in Suspect, I read several chapters holding my Kindle with one hand while biting the nails on the other as both handler and pooch are targeted by the runaway killer who's intent on making sure James isn't around to identify him.
All the main characters get a good workout here - as does Cole and Pike's friend Jon, a special ops mercenary, who's also invited to join the search and seizure party. But IMHO, it was Maggie who stole the show; I won't be surprised if she and her human partner get a book all their own before long (hint, hint). Will I read it? You betcha!
The Promise: An Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Novel by Robert Crais (G.P. Putnams Sons, November 2016); 408 pp.