I have a special affection for Robert Crais and am always excited when I see a new mystery. The Promise is his latest with Los Angeles PI Elvis Cole and his partner Joe Pike. It does not disappoint.

The Promise is exactly what it purports to be, a mystery which will be solved by characters who have become old friends to Crais’ readers. Elvis is cooler than cool, always ready to help, always on the side of justice and smart. Joe is actually cooler than Elvis, silent, strong, hyper-competent and unflappable. They are on the side of the underdog and finding solutions – even in difficult situations is their raison d’être.

The Promise, like all Crais novels, is more complex than it appears, the case is not what it seems to be at the beginning–a search for a defense company employee who seems to have disappeared with several hundred thousand dollars of company money. In checking out his first lead, he stumbles on a murder that draws the suspicion of the police. We soon find out that there is a groups of arms dealers stealing and selling weapons and explosives, a sociopathic criminal broker who will stop at nothing to protect himself from being identified by the police and even the possibility of corruption in the investigation.

What I love about Crais’ novels is that I never have to face palm and ask, “Why did you do that?” Cole and Pike are smart, they plan for contingencies and avoid reckless danger. Their plans work. They call for backup. If they were unarmed women in a house with a scary intruder, they would remove their high heels and run out the front door to the neighbor’s house and call the cops. They would not open the basement door and slowly walk down the steps in their stilettos, asking “who’s there?” or if they did, they would at least grab a weapon.

There is one weakness in this mystery and that is his attempt to vocalize the K9 dog Maggie’s thoughts and dreams. I think the narrative is effective, her memories being mostly scent memories and so on. That works for me. What does not work is “Scott Sad”, “Maggie Sad”, “Pack Sad”. I would prefer if that were just narrative of her thoughts. She feels Scott’s sorrow and his mood becomes her’s; together they are the pack. Maggie seems altogether too smart to refer to herself in the third person.

3pawsI recommend The Promise. I rate it 3 stars, which I remind you is not average, but good. Since I am reading self-selected books, I expect nearly everything to be good. It is a good installment in an excellent series, a fun read that fulfills its promise to readers to have a smart, fair mystery that never makes you roll your eyes at the main characters.