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 readers’ 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, over twenty years later, Salinas has a private investigative service with two of the three boys he rescued and then adopted. One of the other children, Virginia Troy, has tracked him 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.
Elise Cooper: Seattle can use your books as a tourist guide?
Jayne Ann Krentz: I like Seattle because I live here and love the area. It has that atmospheric climate that works for this darker story with a grey and ominous cloud cover. Because of its entrepreneurial appearance the city appears high energy. I love the startup mentality because it fits into my characters’ professions. Seattle was infused with a frontier spirit from the gold rush to big timber eras to today. Since there is so much money around, a business like the Salinas investigative service can thrive.
EC: What about Lost Island is that realistic?
JAK: It is made up. There are Lost Island types off Seattle’s coast so it was easy for me to invent one. The real-life islands range from chunks of rock sticking out of the water to fully populated places of living.
EC: Why the cult premise?
JAK: Even though I do not know anyone in a cult, I wanted to write about that whole notion of getting sucked in and used. 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.
EC: How would you describe the hero, Cabot?
JAK: He appears aloof and unemotional. Very literal, serious, and curious. A complicated character. 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.
EC: How would you describe the heroine Virginia?
JAK: She 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.
EC: How would you describe their relationship?
JAK: They understand each other on a deep level since they both know what the other went through. There is no bond like a shared trauma. They spar, joke, and have good banter, and can laugh at each other as well as themselves. On the surface they have different personalities, but in the end, they honor each other’s differences to make the relationship work. All my characters build their relationship, not on beauty and handsomeness, but on something that is not fleeting. It must be based on something more substantial than the physical intimacy.
EC: Since it is billed as a trilogy after the next book will you ever feature these characters?
JAK: No. I would not bring back these characters on stage. I could possibly bring them back in a cameo of a future book. For example, if I needed in the plot line a PI firm, I would not reinvent one, but would bring back Salinas’ Agency.
EC: You made Virginia the owner of an art gallery and used a number of comparisons between art and the outside world?
JAK: Yes. I used art because it a world based on imagination, perceived value, obsession, and passion. This is everything I need for a story. For example, I wrote Anson Salinas describe the trick to a good con is ‘to tell a good story, one that plays to the hopes or fears of the person. It has to be a story with just enough truth in it to make it feel real.’ As Virginia said, it is a type of art form. I also enjoyed comparing Cabot and Virginia’s relationship to art where she saw in her gallery boring abstract paintings until suddenly there was a Renaissance masterpiece.
EC: How do you come up with professions for your characters?
JAK: One of the toughest parts of writing is to decide on a profession. I need one where they can walk away from their job for a few weeks to solve a crime. It couldn’t happen with a 9 to 5 job. This is part of the reason I chose entrepreneurial jobs because they can move around, they work for themselves, and enjoy being in control. In this case art gives Virginia an entrepreneurial background.
EC: What do you want readers to get out of the story besides good entertainment?
JAK: Any book I write is going to have my humor, my family bonds, and the kind of characters I like. All my characters have the same core values, a shared sense of right and wrong. They are honorable people and seek out someone they can trust. They have the same sense of determination, grit, and courage. I begin by writing the story for myself and hope that someone else will enjoy the mystery with me. If I am interested in the plot, hopefully others are as well.
EC: Can you give us a heads up about your next book projects?
JAK: The last book of the trilogy will be about the third brother, Jack Lancaster. He studied criminal behavior and has a cynical outlook on life. Then I will write an Amanda Quick book entitled The Other Lady Vanishes. This is due out in May. The setting is in California in 1937 in an upscale seaside town about 100 miles outside of LA. The Quick book can be described as the life style of the rich and famous with murder and some espionage because WWII is ominously present. For readers who do not know I have three pen names: I use Jayne Ann Krentz when I write about the present, Jayne Castle when I write about the future, and Amanda Quick when I write the historical murder mystery novels.
Promise Not to Tell (Cutler, Sutter & Salinas #2)
Like Virginia, private investigator Cabot Sutter was one of the children in the cult who survived that fire… and only he can help her now. As they struggle to unravel the clues in the painting, it becomes clear that someone thinks Virginia knows more than she does and that she must be stopped. Thrown into an inferno of desire and deception, Virginia and Cabot draw ever closer to the mystery of their shared memories—and the shocking fate of the one man who still wields the power to destroy everything they hold dear.
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