Review of “Portrait in Death” (In Death #16) by J.D. Robb

Robb, J.D. Portrait in Death. Berkley Books, 2003. ISBN-13: 9780739433508. $7.99 USD (Price for paperback edition; hardcover edition is out of print). 

5 stars

This joins some of the previous 5-star rated installments in the series as among the best, both in terms of the unfolding of the case and the interplay between the characters. In terms of the former, while the killer does deserve punishment without question, it is exciting to delve into the psyche of the killer and explore what motivated these killings in the name of preserving their light. And something I’ve found to be a challenge in reading these books is really feeling the true depth of the lives lost beyond typical human sadness about death, even when people close to them express their thoughts about what kind of people they were. But with one of the deaths here, it was not the case, as the personal connection we (and Eve) has with the victim’s family beforehand means that the death is an even greater loss, even if the victim was only mentioned for the first time in this book.

And while the personal stuff was not largely connected to the case this time around, it was probably one of the most enjoyable. After countless books of seeing Roarke being cool and collected, with only a few occasions of being affected by his past, it is great to see him truly tested by a deeper exploration of his past. And while Eve has occasionally done sweet things for Roarke in the prior books, it was wonderful to see her being the one to comfort and support him, even to the point of taking time away from her investigation.

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