Review of “Dark in Death” (in Death #46) by J.D. Robb

Robb, J.D. Dark in Death. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2018.

Hardcover | $27.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1250161536 | 372 pages | Romantic Suspense

5 stars

Life imitates art imitating life in this one, with documented cases of Roberts being the victim of plagiarism by other authors both before and since the publication of this book, not to mention the alleged use of ghostwriters ( a claim she’s denied) and overly enthusiastic involvement from fans.

The case itself for its own sake was great as well, and definitely one of the more solid of the series. It’s well-paced and had enough going on to keep me invested, without being too complex to the point where I felt lost. I found myself anxious to find out who the overzealous fan was elaborately recreated crime scenes from a book series, while also going after its author with accusations of plagiarism, and I found myself satisfied as things came together.

And given that the theme of this book is, well, books, I liked that there was also a comment on the whole eBook vs. paper debate, with equal use of both by the characters, thus demonstrating that both have continued value, even in this futuristic setting. While there are mentions of some using eReaders, I like that we have people like Roarke who still adore paper books, and he has a large library. Every time I think he can’t surprise me with more ways to love him, he does something else that seals the deal.

I really enjoyed this installment, especially given its feeling of personal commentary on what it’s like to be an author, especially one of Nora Roberts’ level of success.

Review of “Echoes in Death” (In Death #44) by J.D. Robb

Robb, J.D. Echoes in Death. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017.

Hardcover | $27.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1250123114 | 371 pages | Romantic Suspense

5 stars

I chose not to post a review for the previous book in the In Death series, because, upon reflection, it’s started to get old saying the same things over and over, and while I love gushing about the cast interactions, with so few books left in the series that are currently out, I’m thinking I may choose to only unpack the ones I find particularly memorable, which will hopefully be all of them, but we’ll see.

That being said, this one definitely merits a review, because it’s probably one of my favorite cases. And while I’m not sure everyone will agree with me, I like that it focuses on a singular crime with a singular perp without too much complexity. Not to mention some of the procedural elements feeling reminiscent of Law and Order: SVU, which I have just recently got sucked back into, plus the participation from this world’s SVU squad, given the nature of the case. While some of the books, especially lately, have had their moments where my attention does waver a bit, this one had me on the edge of my seat, wanting to know who was behind it all.

And to add just a tiny note on the cast and their banter, I felt like some of the jokes here were pretty funny, especially the “Oedipus/Edison” conversation, which spun off from the assertion of the rapist’s predilections. I love that there are these small moments of levity that lighten up otherwise intense books.

This one is on my list of favorite books of the series. And while I do still feel that the series is worth the full investment, this is the one I’d probably recommend to fans of other police procedurals, like SVU.

Review of “Brotherhood in Death” (In Death #42) by J.D. Robb

Robb, J.D. Brotherhookd in Death. New York: Berkley Books, 2016.

Hardcover | $28.00 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0399170898 | 388 pages | Romanti Suspense

5 stars

Brotherhood in Death is one of the most masterfully crafted in the series since New York to Dallas, and it’s also one of the most personally appealing, because it’s another one that personally impacts someone in the recurring cast of characters. I really love Eve’s relationship with not just Dr. Charlotte Mira, but also Charlotte’s husband, Dennis, so seeing him as a key witness and potential victim and exploring more of the dynamic he has with Eve is incredibly sweet.

The case was also another of those that delved into the issues of morality and justice, and how, once again, when you’re a cop, it shouldn’t matter to you the type of character the victim or victims had, and even if they committed genuine wrongs to the perpetrator, that still doesn’t make it less of a crime. It’s also interesting how, to parallel between brotherhood and sisterhood bonds playing a role in the murders as well.

It’s also great to see Eve continue to be fleshed out as a character, further expanding on her vulnerabilities. Most obviously, the case impacts her, due t the appearance of one of the victims in a dream she has of her father, drawing the parallels between the two men. I also was moved by her discussing with Roarke that she’s not fully ready for change after having an argument with him after he invites an interior decorator into her home office without telling her first. While there are some moments when I kind of wish she would give a little more and try a little harder (like her constantly complaining about party planning), this is one of those moments that felt so genuine and real, especially since she was so taken off guard, even with Roarke’s protests that he wouldn’t do anything without her approval (yet he invited the woman in the first place without telling her?).

This installment continues to solidify my belief that, in spite of any subpar installments, this series still has its gems and is still great overall.

Review of “Obsession in Death” (In Death #40) by J.D. Robb

Robb, J.D. Obsession in Death. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015.

Hardcover | $27.95 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0399170874 | 404 pages | Romantic Suspense

4 stars

40 books in with the prospect of only eight more, then having to wait for the next two, and I can still say I am obsessed with this series, in spite of all its shortcomings. So, it is quite fitting in a sense that this one is called Obsession in Death.

And while this wasn’t one of my favorites in the series, it was still great, especially as it presented a new personal challenge for Eve, with the case being concerned with an obsessed fan of hers who takes it upon themselves to make misguided attempts to avenge her to prove her “friendship.” Ultimately, even if the reveal wasn’t that exciting for me, I found the psychology of the killer, in the snippets we got from their perspective the most interesting, which is not surprising, given ho w I’ve often expressed my admiration for how Nora Roberts gets into these twisted people’s heads.

I also really liked seeing the team work together, bringing up people from past cases. Admittedly, I didn’t remember quite a few of them, but it is nice to see more consistency in terms of the connectedness of the series and the characters beyond the core group.

And Eve and Roarke…I fall in love with them more and more as a couple from book to book. And it’s really those little intimate moments, like them having a meal together or their casual banter in between all the intense case-cracking, that make me so happy.

This was a pretty interesting one in the series, and while it wasn’t mind-blowing by any means, reaching book 40 only increases my hype for the books to come.

Review of “Festive in Death” (In Death #39) by J.D. Robb

Robb, J.D. Festive in Death. New York: G.P. Putam’s Sons, 2014.

Hardcover | $27.95 USD | ISBN-0399164446 | 389 pages | Romantic Suspense

4 stars

Festive in Death is another enjoyable installment in the In Death series, with a reasonably interesting case. It’s always fascinating when it’s not so black-and-white, and the victim is kind of a awful person as well, leading to the uncovering of much more complex and deep motivations behind the killing, as well as exemplifying the true nature of the job of being in the police force of doing your best work to solve a case, no matter who the victim is.

And of course, an In Death book is not complete without some great interactions between the cast, this time surrounding the holiday season. There’s a tender moment near the end between Eve and Roarke with a callback to their first Christmas together that elicited an “awww!” from me, and more “fun” surrounding the holiday season, including some silliness with a mall Santa. Not to mention Eve once again out of her element planning a huge Christmas party…

This was a more or less enjoyable installment, although Eve being Eve with her awkwardness does start to wear a little thin after so many books, and I feel like she could use more character growth. But other than that, it continues to be great and I continue to attest that it’s worth it to take the plunge and pick up the series if you haven’t.

Review of “Concealed in Death” (In Death #38) by J.D. Robb

Robb, J.D. Concealed in Death. New York: G.P. Putam’s Sons, 2014.

Hardcover | $27.95 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0399164439 | 402 pages | Romantic Susoense

4 stars

Concealed in Death is another great book in the In Death series, and I was immediately intrigued at how this one was set apart from the others with the discovery of a long-concealed set of bodies, a setup that has never been seen before in the series. And the additional layer that ties them to a home for troubled teens added a connection to both Eve and Roarke’s pasts that I thought was great.

It was also nice to see a deeper side to Mavis, who I often forget led a bit of an unconventional lifestyle prior to becoming friends with Eve. Other cases have touched the cast in such beautiful ways, and to see how Mavis was connected to this one shows how much she also struggled, providing a greater sense of satisfaction to her current state of happiness, in a similar way that Eve’s current life with Roarke does for her.

While this one is a bit slower and more contemplative than the average book in the series, it suits the type of case they’re working with this time around, although ultimately it left the conclusion feeling a bit anticlimactic, wrapping up a little too quickly. However, it is still a fairly solid book, with plenty of great moments.

Review of “Thankless in Death” (In Death #37) by J.D. Robb

Robb, J.D. Thankless in Death. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2014.

Hardcover | $27.95 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0399164422 | 402 pages | Romantic Suspense

5 stars

Thankless in Death has a lot of elements we’ve seen before in the In Death series, including a psychopathic killer on a manhunt, but it is that very thing that made it one of the better ones for me. While some of the books tend to complicate the cases a bit with different technologies and fictional advancements, my favorites are the ones that delve into the traditional and timeless cold-blooded murder and the quest to find him.

It also shows off Robb/Roberts’ eerie talent of truly getting into the mind of a psycho once again, and as much as I loved seeing Eve and the gang trying to catch him, my favorite parts were the portions from his perspective, delving into the reasons he chose each of his victims, and how he felt they wronged him, something no rational person would let escalate to these heinous acts, even if someone upset them. I would love to pick Roberts’ brain on the writing of these scenes, as they are pure dark, morbid perfection.

Given that those violent moments, it’s a welcome relief to have them juxtaposed with scenes of a the lead-up to and the carrying-out of Thanksgiving dinner, with an absolutely beautiful final scene featuring recurring characters, like little orphaned Nixie and her new adoptive family, the DeBlasses. Given that these are among the characters over the course of the series who’ve faced monumental losses, it is heartwarming to see them focusing on the positive and being thankful for what they have, especially Nixie, who expresses her gratitude toward Eve in the sweetest way.

This is one of the installments that I really enjoyed for its balance of the gritty and the emotional, and its interweaving of a great, if somewhat cliche, message.

Review of “Calculated in Death” (In Death #36) by J.D. Robb

Robb, J.D. Calculated in Death. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2013.

Hardcover | $27.95 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0399158827 | 386 pages | Romantic Suspense

3.5 stars

Calculated in Death was another installment in the In Death series with a concept that did feel a little too…much…for me, what with the focus being on the accounting world. I think one of the best parts is that Roarke’s connections and expertise actually play a significant role in a way that I felt added to the story and made me enjoy it just a little bit more, instead of making me go, “Oh, here we go again,” like I often did, particularly in earlier installments when an all-too-convenient connection to the case came up.

I also didn’t feel like there was as much action that kept me invested, and the villain (and his minion) felt rather underwhelming in comparison to perps from prior books.

And in spite of the case going over my head to some extent, the characters are true to form like always, with a consistent blend of badassery and banter. And I like that as she introduces new supporting characters, she doesn’t forget about them, which is the case this time with the reappearance of actress Marlo Durn from Celebrity in Death, and the preparation for the gang to attend the premiere of the movie being filmed in that book.

While this is another slightly underwhelming entry, it still has the hallmarks that make the series as a whole work.

Review of “Delusion in Death” (In Death #35) by J.D. Robb

Robb, J.D. Delusion in Death. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012.

Hardcover | $27.95 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0399158810 | 388 pages | Romantic Suspense

3.5 stars (maybe light 4?)

I had somewhat mixed feelings about Delusion in Death. On the one hand, I think it’s great that Robb/Roberts isn’t afraid to try new things when it comes to crafting cases, and this time, with the introduction of a chemical weapon at the root of the killings, I could feel the sense that there were higher stakes with a greater number of lives lost and a weapon that can’t easily be diffused in a one-on-on situation.

On the other hand, I’ve found some of the books that got a little more technical with the methods and a little less…intimate…to be my least favorite when it comes to keeping me interested overall. The solving of the case was great as always, but this one ranks a bit lower on the scale for me due to my feelings on the case.

However, the characters remain great, and I really enjoyed the delving into Eve’s trauma in the aftermath of what went down in Dallas a couple books ago, particularly when it comes to the unresolved issues with her long estranged mother who failed to recognize her upon their confrontation. I truly felt for her, and think it’s wonderful that she has such great people like Roarke and Dr. Mira in her corner to provide emotional support, which they do at different points of this book.

While again not a favorite, I think it has just enough of the consistently good things that made me love the series that I feel like it’s still not getting old, even at almost three dozen books in.

Review of “Celebrity in Death” (In Death #34) by J.D. Robb

Robb, J.D. Celebrity in Death. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012.

Hardcover | $27.95 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0399158308 | 389 pages | Romantic Suspense

4 stars

Celebrity in Death is yet another fairly solid In Death book, although I did feel like the return to the standard formula did feel a bit jarring after the epicness of the prior book, in that it’s more or less a return to the predictable.

However, I still did like it conceptually, especially the setup surrounds a movie being filmed based on one of Eve’s prior cases, and the initial amusement surrounding meeting “themselves,” including the fact that Peabody’s actress is incredibly hostile…to put it nicely. And this did still lead to some fabulous moments of banter between the cast, especially with Eve and Peabody discussing how much of an awful person the Peabody actress is.

I also liked seeing more emotional moments, with Peabody and McNab getting some time to reaffirm their love for one another, as we see McNab panicked over seeing the corpse of fake Peabody, imagining the worst that could happen to the real one that he loves. And while I acknowledge along with them that they’re not ready to get married yet, I love seeing a rare example of the depth of their feelings for one another.

The case itself was interesting and had great twists as the case unfolded, even if it was one of the more by-the-numbers entries in the series, with whodunnit being fairly obvious…although observing Eve get down to the “how” and the “why” was entertaining.

I can’t really blame this book for being more of the same from the series, as it did have a big act to follow with New York to Dallas, and I still don’t know if anything in the series will be able to top it. However, by the standards of the series, it is still one of the better entries, even if it doesn’t rank among my absolute favorites.