The promise by Lucy Diamond

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Dan likes working to a spreadsheet, so when his brother Patrick dies suddenly one night after an argument, Dan’s answer is to draw up a chart of tasks to help fill the gap left behind – this means stepping in to support the grieving Zoe and three children.

When the brothers were growing up the running joke was that Patrick got the looks, and Dan got the brains. Patrick was the popular one, happily married and a successful property owner. An underlying thread of resentment that coloured their relationship, is now compounded by remorse and guilt over the bitter last words on the fateful night.

Dan’s plans go smoothly at first; he fulfils his role of helpful brother-in-law and fun-loving uncle to the children, and he feels on top of the landlord tasks, until he discovers an unexplained maintenance line in the accounts. Then the problems start.

Diamond’s story starts slowly and fairly predictably, but the twist draws the reader in, to find out how Dan will handle the unravelling secrets. It is his character, a bit of a nerd, good intentioned but a little naive, that really makes this novel. The promise is a realistic depiction of the love but also the little jealousies within a family, and the young children are also portrayed with warmth and humour. All in all an enjoyable read.

Helen Eddy