Book Review: The Promise

This is a difficult book for me to review because Robert Crais is one of my favorite authors and Elvis and Pike are two of my favorite fictional characters. It’s been more than three years since the last Elvis/Pike novel—and maybe that’s why I feel so disappointed with The Promise. I expected a lot more from a book that was delayed several months—presumably for rewrites—and then hyped so much.

In fact, someone who has never read an Elvis/Pike novel might find this more entertaining/enjoyable than longtime fans of the series. If you don’t already have a connection to the central characters, then you won’t notice that the spark is missing this time around.

Don’t get me wrong—Robert Crais is a terrific author, and a disappointing book in this series is still better than the overwhelming majority of books in this genre. But I think longtime readers/fans will be disappointed. I’ll list a few reasons why:

– Elvis’s trademark humor is flat and almost non-existent.

– Jon Stone—who somehow gets younger, more talented, and speaks another language with each novel—is more of a central character than Pike. I’d love to see a standalone Jon Stone novel, but I’d rather see more of Pike in this series.

– The Promise was originally billed in the product description as Elvis and Pike give their word and they keep it. They make a promise to a client, and they will keep it no matter the consequences. It also had Pike “bloodied” in a warehouse as Scott and Maggie arrive on the scene, and a group of rogue veteran soldiers up to no good—but none of that made it into the actual book. Which begs the question: why wasn’t the title changed? Because very little of the plot/storyline touches on the theme implied by the title and the product description.

– I didn’t like the hybrid Elvis/Pike/Scott & Maggie show. There were too many POVs and protagonists for a novel of this length.

Overall, it’s a good book for this genre—but a disappointing book for such a great series: 3/5 stars. Use this Amazon affiliate link to read more about this book.


Travel: Uzbek-Afghan Border Region

I took this photo in the Uzbek-Afghan border region. It’s a porous border in a dangerous area, with illegal crossings on a daily basis—people fleeing war, people searching for drugs, people searching for weapons—and neither government has the will nor the means to deal with the problem.

Unfortunately, people live in this area. They have dilapidated homes and menial jobs and kids that go to dangerous schools.

This particular photo is taken inside a complex of homes. At night people urinate, defecate, and sleep in this narrow hallway. They are exposed to the elements, and the kids who live inside the rooms are afraid to go outside. There’s no nighttime traffic, but you often will hear gunfire.

I see these things in my work and travel, but then I come back to the United States and it can be so hard to process everything: the whiny, selfish kids in Wal-Mart; the parents that hassle teachers at school for dumb reasons; the teachers who deserve to be hassled for serious reasons.

The absurd. The asinine.

There’s so much of it. You reach a point you feel like a sponge that’s been submerged in a lake. There’s simply no room left to feel much of anything.

If you dwell on it too much it can be unhealthy.

But you can’t ignore it and also be moral.

What then?

I took this photo and taped it above my computer. For all its beauty, we live in a dangerous world filled with great heartache—and this picture is my reminder to be grateful that my corner of the world has been blessed far beyond anything we ever deserved.


Book Review: The Crossing

There are very few books I look forward to more than a new Michael Connelly novel – especially when it features both Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller. The Crossing is excellent and I think fans of both Bosch and Haller will really enjoy it.

The plot has Haller defending a client who is accused of murdering a cop’s wife. But Haller truly believes his client is innocent, and after his PI is injured in a motorcycle accident he persuades his half-brother Bosch to take a look at the case.

The title refers to two things that really are the crux of the book – and for me it illustrates why Michael Connelly is the best working author in this genre. The first “crossing” is what Bosch refers to as the point where the lives of the victim and perpetrator intersect. Bosch asserts that if he can find that point, then he will understand everything about the crime. The second “crossing” refers to Bosch – who is now a retired LAPD detective – changing sides and working for a criminal defense attorney.

It is the second crossing that provides much of the conflict in the story: Bosch vs. himself, his daughter, his former colleagues, and even Haller.

But ultimately it comes down to one thing for Bosch: if Haller’s client is really innocent, then an actual killer is on the street and someone needs to bring him to justice.

This novel is incredibly well written. It is fast-paced with sharp dialogue, and I would highly recommend it to readers of mysteries/thrillers/crime fiction: 5/5 stars. Use this Amazon affiliate link to see more information about The Crossing.