Tony Cavanaugh

Review: Promise by Tony Cavanaugh


Promise by Tony Cavanaugh (Darian Richards, #1), Trade paperback from library, March 2012, 327p.

4 out of 5 stars.

I reviewed previously:
Kingdom of the Strong (Darian Richards, #4)

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump recently, and even the latest book from a favourite author couldn’t drag me from my hole. The slump wasn’t all bad, as I wrote lots (just for a friend, nothing serious), caught up on some TV shows and helped a family member through a small crisis. Eventually I decided it was time to pick up a book again, and I decided to read Promise by Tony Cavanaugh. I’m glad I did – it dragged me from my slump kicking and screaming.

The fifth book in this series, Kingdom of the Strong, was published last year and made it into my Top 15 of 2015. I decided to go back and start this series from the start, in the hopes of a new release this year. One of the things that sets the Darian Richards series apart is the setting – the Sunshine Coast in Australia. As an Australian, my family holidayed in Queensland, and often on the Sunshine Coast so the descriptions of the setting are particularly vibrant to me.

Promise is a tightly written, plot driven serial killer thriller with one of the creepiest killers creating chilling havoc on every page. The baddie is hilarious and strange (letting me know he got his duct tape on special at Bunnings for 3.99) with a ritual and system to killing that made me feel quite ill. The killer reminded me of the serial killers that used to feature in Matt Hilton’s Joe Hunter novels, and there are some other similarities between these two authors. However, Cavanaugh goes more the police investigation route as opposed to the vigilante.

It would be remiss of me to review this book, or any book in this series without talking about Darian Richards – Promise sets him up as such an interesting and complex character. He’s a hard-bitten ex-cop who just wants to be left alone, but can’t really leave the cop’s investigation alone either. He’s conflicted, and has a strange relationship with 92 Berettas and the women in his life. Cavanaugh has done a wonderful job building a fabulous lead character, that I want to follow over multiple books.

This leads me to one of my few complaints about this book – the background characters are weak. Casey, Maria, the police officers and Detectives all seem like caricatures of actual people. I wanted to scream at how many times Darian thought something along the lines of ‘female cops are smarter than male ones,’ I get it, you want me to think of Maria as being intelligent – and I can’t because what you make her do is stupid half the time. It’s this kind of ‘telling’ and not ‘showing’, especially when they are at odds with one another that pains me. I don’t even have an opinion on Casey yet, because he just seems wishy-washy. I know that Casey and Maria especially become strong, fleshed out characters by the fourth book, so I’m happy to run with it.

The ending was good, if a little dissatisfying, and certainly left me hankering for the next book in the series. I have book three (The Train Rider) already waiting for me, but need to get my hands on #2 first!

Review: Kingdom of the Strong by Tony Cavanaugh


Kingdom of the Strong by Tony Cavanaugh, Netgalley copy, July 2015, 368p.

4 stars.

Kingdom of the Strong was the first book by Cavanaugh, and honestly I don’t know why I hadn’t picked one up sooner. I read so many books in which the main character is a hard cop who sometimes crosses the line – but for some reason I overlooked this Aussie writer, who is setting these brilliant cop stories in Australia. Kingdom of the Strong was set in Melbourne, and although the furthest east I have ever lived is Adelaide, I have visited Melbourne and know street names, famous places and events. This makes the book so much more relevant and suspenseful!

I really like Cavanaugh’s character of Richards- he is hard, brilliant and confused about his life. He certainly doesn’t have everything sorted out; he has turned his back on his career, the woman he loves, and his friends. When one of his oldest friends and mentor finds him and asks him to head up an investigation, he feels obliged to say yes.

What follows is a crazy look into Melbourne in the 1990’s and how the characters then have progressed with their lives. The death that Darian is investigating is convoluted, with at least three suspects who have motive and opportunity. The investigation is hurried because of political factors. I found the plot exciting and unpredictable – the end did shock me, but in the sort of way that you come to the realisation with the detective. As Darian was uncovering the truth, we were being let into the mystery too.

I really enjoyed the cast of characters in this book – Darian’s friend and always hungry fellow cop is Maria, who is dating a very interesting character of Casey. The character that stuck in my mind the most was that of Racine, who is such a grey but despicable character from the get go. He made my skin crawl on a couple of occasions.

I’m going to hunt down copies of the first three books in this series, and add them to my ever increasing TBR.