“Promise Not To Tell” by Jayne Ann Krentz is a breath-taking story. While the first in the series, “When All the Girls Have Gone,” was spell-binding, this book leaves the reader’s heart pounding as it is more of a thriller than a mystery. Krentz delivers an impactful series by focusing each novel on one of three brothers. Each book can be read as a stand-alone, but in not reading the first people will miss out on the engaging story of Max Sutter.
The premise for the series has police chief Anson Salinas rescuing eight children trapped in a blazing barn, but unfortunately, he was unable to save their mothers. They were entrapped in a compound, part of a cult run by a manipulative, controlling psychopath, Quinton Zane. Now, more than 20 years later, Salinas has a private investigative service with two of the three boys he rescued and then adopted.
“Even though I do not know anyone in a cult, I wanted to write about that whole notion of getting sucked in and used,” Krentz said. “This was not a religious cult, but one based on technology and the desire to change the future of the world. It was more of a pyramid scheme cult based on money and power. I was very careful to show that the children were not sucked in, just the parents. The mothers were very smart and intelligent people who became entrapped as they feared for their lives as well as their child’s life.”
One of the children, Virginia Troy, has tracked Anson down to uncover what happened to her good friend, Hannah Brewster, a reclusive artist who died under suspicious circumstances. After agreeing to take the assignment he assigns his adoptive son, Cabot Cutler, to the case. He and Virginia suspect that the death could be related to the cult since Hannah was one of a few adults who escaped. The intensity takes off from there and never lets up.
On the surface, it appears Cabot and Virginia only have in common their past. What does the owner of an art gallery have in common with a former law enforcement officer? The hero and heroine share the inability to sustain a relationship, putting a wall between themselves and others. This is due in part to their suffering from PTSD, reliving the fire in their nightmares, panic attacks, and strange sleeping behaviors. Throughout the story they overcome their emotional scars and begin to connect with each other intimately, sharing a mutual understanding of respect, empathy, and tolerance of their differences.
Comparing Cabot and Virginia, Krentz sees both similarities and differences.
“Cabot appears aloof and unemotional. Very literal, serious, and curious. A complicated character,” she said. “As with so many of my characters, he is reinventing himself with a new job and a new life, starting over emotionally and professionally. In order to navigate his world, he needs a mission, which is why he became a part of the private investigative business, to help people find answers. All my characters are complicated and reserved emotionally because they have been burned in some way. With Cabot, the burn is literal and goes back to his childhood drama while in the cult. Virginia is in the same boat as Cabot. They both looked at the world in two ways, seeing the humor and the dark side. She is outwardly reserved, sharp, polished, and sophisticated. She likes to size up people.”
This book is action-packed and fast-paced. It has everything a reader can desire: suspense, romance, and riveting characters. Readers will be left yearning for the concluding story of the series.