The best-selling author’s new romantic-suspense novel is a compelling sequel to last year’s “When All the Girls Have Gone.”
“Promise Not To Tell”
by Jayne Ann Krentz
Berkley, 336 pp., $27
An arson fire and an artist’s suicide in a remote island in the San Juans.
A Seattle art gallery with a mysterious break-in … and a corpse left behind in the office.
There’s mayhem in the Northwest: Best-selling Seattle author Jayne Ann Krentz is back, with a riveting new suspense novel — “Promise Not to Tell” — that weaves together these plot elements and plenty more. Krentz’s newest is one of her all-time most action-packed books, full of twists and turns from the fiery opening scene to a foreboding finale that warns us this story isn’t over yet.
Darker in tone than a lot of her previous novels in the romantic-suspense genre, “Promise Not to Tell” centers on two deeply troubled survivors of a sinister cult. More than two decades earlier, the cult’s founder, Quinton Zane, had torched the entire compound, locking Virginia and Cabot and the other children in a blazing barn from which only they and six others had escaped.
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Now meeting again as adults in an investigation of the arson fire on the island, Virginia and Cabot are wary despite their strong attraction to each other; they are scarred from their childhood experiences and worried when they find evidence that Zane may still be alive and plotting further mayhem. But why now, after all those years?
Central to this complicated story line is the last painting by the suicidal artist, who was also one of the cult survivors. Did the artist send her painting to Virginia in order to convey vital information in a coded message?
As Virginia and Cabot investigate the clues, they battle not only their internal demons, but also plenty of external dangers: houses wired to explode, an arson fire from which they escape down a narrow laundry chute, some hand-to-hand combat with dangerous adversaries, and a few serious gunshot wounds.
And, of course, there is romance, accompanied by a lot of ironic humor about the mutual traumas the two survivors share. (Every hotel room either has ever chosen is right next to the fire escape.) They approach each other like the proverbial mating of porcupines: very, very carefully. As Virginia and Cabot grow closer, Krentz makes it clear that they understand each other as few outsiders ever could.
“Promise Not to Tell” is a sequel to 2016’s “When All the Girls Have Gone,” but it reads as a stand-alone novel — although the penultimate chapter sets up the teasing premise for a third book in this well-crafted series.