Book review: Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay

Monday, July 27, 2015 Permalink

After starting a few series part-way through (some more successfully than others), I’m excited to have been able to read the first in a new series. Of course I hadn’t realised that when I requested Broken Promise. I love Linwood Barclay and the plot sounded interesting so it wasn’t until it arrived and I checked Goodreads, I discovered it referred to as Promise Falls #1.

And what a fabulous first-in-a-series it is! Like David Baldacci’s (recent) Memory Man, I enjoyed this so much I’m eagerly awaiting more in the series.

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David Harwood’s life hasn’t turned out the way he expected. At 40 he’s unemployed and back in his parents’ house with his 9yr old son Ethan.

His wife died 5 years earlier and after throwing in a well-paid editing job in Boston to spend more time with his son he’s moved back to Promise Falls. He planned to look for a place to stay after settling into his new job with the local paper but when it closed down on his first day he found himself out of work and worrying about the example he was setting for his son.

As a favour to his mother David drops into his cousin Marla’s place with some home-cooked meals. Marla, he knows, has been struggling since she lost her baby 10mths earlier and gets little sympathy from her own mother who’s frustrated at her daughter’s inability to move on. On arriving at Marla’s however, David finds her busy with her son… who she informs David was dropped off by an angel the day before.

Things get complicated when David discovers contact information with the bloody (#notswearing #forachange) baby’s pram and arrives at the address to find a mother murdered and child missing.

He can’t believe Marla’s capable of such violence and finds himself believing her story about the angel so sets about trying to prove her innocence.

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There’s a lot of other stuff happening in the background but it adds a lot of flavour, rather than confuse readers. David’s mother seems to be sliding slowly into dementia and his father is hiding some past secret. His son’s being bullied and David finds himself attracted to the bully’s mum… a woman on the run from a violent husband.

And then there’s local detective, Barry Duckworth, celebrating his 20th anniversary with the Promise Falls Police Department. Not only is he dealing with a former disgraced mayor (Randall Finley) who’s planning another stab at the title and wanting Barry on his side; but there are some troubling incidents around town and possible attacks on young women at the college campus.

Like I said, there’s a lot going on… but Barclay’s obviously setting the scene for future novels in this series. It’s got that small town drama-filled feel about it. I even noted that Barclay’s writing felt very folksy… in a good way, inviting readers into Promise Falls, resplendent with interesting characters and idiosyncrasies.

I’m assuming David and Barry will continue to be key characters in future novels and having solved the mystery of Marla’s baby David’s about to start working for mayoral wannabe Finley and we (like he) just know that will prove interesting.

Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay is published by Penguin Group and released in Australia by Hachette and available from 28 July 2015.

I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

Buy now from Booktopia (Australia) or Amazon (International). 

22 Comments
  • Jess
    July 27, 2015

    Sounds really interesting! So many possibilities with all of those characters!

  • Ness
    July 27, 2015

    Ohhhh I read one of his other books with this character but didn’t realise it was part of a series! I’ll be looking forward to this. Great review. Thanks.

  • Stormi D Johnson
    July 28, 2015

    Glad you enjoyed it, I can’t wait to give this one a try soon. 🙂

  • Jan @ notes from from a Readerholic
    July 28, 2015

    This sounds like an interesting book, Deborah. Lots of characters for future books. I’ll have to check into it.

  • Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
    July 28, 2015

    This sounds so great and somehow I hadn’t heard of the author before this book. I like that all the background doesn’t make it confusing and in this genre having that background can flesh out the character so much more. Adding this to my TBR!

    • Debbish
      July 28, 2015

      I think coming in at book 1 really helped Katherine – the additional backstory and characters were introduced in a way that we felt we hadn’t missed anything and we really knew as little as our main characters.

  • Book Splurge
    July 28, 2015

    This sounds really good! I would love to start reading it in the next week or so! Great review, thanks for sharing.

  • Bec
    July 29, 2015

    Now I’m excited, I’m always on the look out for a good series, I’ll check to see if it’s on Audible,
    Thanks!

    • Debbish
      July 29, 2015

      It should be out everywhere now I think!

      • Bec
        August 1, 2015

        Just downloaded from Audible, only 3 star reviews there, will keep you posted!

        • Debbish
          August 1, 2015

          Am yet to try an audio book… think it would take me too long as I read pretty quickly!

          Hope you enjoy it!

  • Rita @ View From My Home
    August 2, 2015

    i just read it and enjoyed it very much. Linwood Barclay is one of my “go-to” authors and I look forward to the next one in Promise Falls. Good review, Deb.

    • Debbish
      August 2, 2015

      Thanks Rita. Glad you enjoyed it too!

  • Teddyree
    August 3, 2015

    I like getting in on the ground floor of a new series and I already know I enjoy Barclay’s writing, although it’s been a while. Might be a good one to check the library for.

    • Debbish
      August 4, 2015

      Definitely Teddyree – I very much enjoyed it. (Obviously!)

  • Jeann @ Happy Indulgence
    August 3, 2015

    This one definitely sounds like a unique read with the small town personality – with lots happening in the background for setting up the series. Great review Debbish!

    • Debbish
      August 4, 2015

      Oh yes Jeann, and it actually ends with something which will kick off the next book in the series and I suspect some of the teasers included will point to those series of crimes!

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