Strangers in Death, by J. D. Robb

3 Apr

Strangers in Death, by J. D. Robb

This is the 29th “… in Death” full length novel—count ‘em, 29!—and this series just keeps getting better. Amazing, ain’t it? Most series seem to loose momentum after the first few—anywhere between four and ten books. This one just keeps going (J.D. Robb as the Energizer Bunny of series?).

While reading this, please be aware that, while I won’t quite gush uncontrollably, I am very much a fan of J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts.

Blurb:

Technology may be different in 2060 New York, yet the city is still a place of many cultures and great divides. And as ever, some murders receive more attention than others, especially those in which the victim is a prominent businessman, found in his Park Avenue apartment, tied to the bed—and strangled—with cords of black velvet.

It doesn’t surprise Lieutenant Eve Dallas that Thomas Anders’ scandalous death is a source of titillation and speculation for the public—and of humiliation for his family. While everyone else in the city is talking about it, those close to Anders aren’t so anxious to do so. Fortunately, because Dallas’ billionaire husband, Roarke, happens to own the prime real estate where Anders’s sporting-goods firm was headquartered, she has some help with access. Before long, she’s knocking on doors—or barging through them—to look for the answers she needs.

But the facts don’t add up. Physical evidence suggests that the victim didn’t struggle. The security breach in the highly fortified apartment indicates that the killer was someone close to Anders, but everyone’s alibi checks out, from the wife who was off in the tropics to the loving nephew who stands to inherit millions. Was this a crime of passion—or a carefully planned execution?

It’s up to Dallas to solve a sensational case where all involved guard secrets from one another—and strangers may be connected in unexpected, and deadly, ways.

The blurb? I hate it. Deeply. First, it’s not an apartment, but a house. House, people. Second, since when has “good security” become “fortified”? And the Roarke bit? One hundred percent misleading. Add that the stupid thing gives away too much, and you have the perfect BAD blurb. /rant

Anyway, on to the novel itself.

When Thomas Anders’ body is discovered by the housekeeper in shocking circumstances, the only two people with potential motives have solid alibis. Furthermore, every person Eve interviews agrees: this was a good man, respected and liked, and the revelations spawning from the manner of his death are a complete surprise to all who knew him, both intimately and in passing.

And yet, there is no doubt he has been murdered, and Eve knows in her gut, almost from the beginning, who is responsible. The trick lies in finding out how it happened, and then proving it. Once the method of the murder is determined, it becomes a stalking game between Eve and Roarke, and the murderer.

The title, and a certain pattern from previous books in the series, gave me the key to the homicide investigation fairly early on, but then that’s not really why I read these books. I read them for the characters and their relationships. Eve and Roarke, obviously, but also Peabody and McNabb, Feeney, Nadine, Louise and Charles, Morris, Trueheart, Baxter. I love seeing these characters interact with each other and their environment, seeing what is behind who they are now, and seeing how they grow… It’s just a pleasure to revisit this world.

While this is not my most favorite installment in the series—particularly coming right after Innocence in Death and Creation in Death—the truth is that a not-all-the-way-to-the-top JDRobb/Nora Roberts’ books is still much better than a great many other authors’ best efforts.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing more of Louise and Charles, as her acceptance of who he is and what he does has always endeared them to me. And as with Peabody and McNabb, the evolution of their relationship makes the “… in Death” world as a whole all that more tangible and real for me.

There were only two false notes, for me. One, the fact that no mention is made by Feeney, Eve, nor Roarke, about the events at the end of Creation in Death. I am not certain of the timeline, but I had expected to see some soul searching going on, particularly from Feeney. The second one was something I missed during my first read through, but that became evident on the second pass; this is the argument between Roarke and Eve over money. More precisely, over Eve’s reluctance—or rather, inability—to consider Roarke’s money as hers.

While the argument itself felt quite organic to me, as I think it had been brewing for quite a number of books, there was a certain abruptness to how said argument ended. I can’t quite see Roarke giving in, for lack of a better term, so easily—and definitely not when he had been so intensely angry just minutes earlier. I can only hope that the issue is not done with, but merely shelved for now, to be explored further in future novels.

This one gets 8 out of 10

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One Response to “Strangers in Death, by J. D. Robb”

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  1. Scions: Insurrection, by Patrice Michelle | Her Hands, My Hands - 04/01/2012

    […] When dealing with a series (or trilogy, as is the case here), the author has to compromise between making sure each installment stands alone, by providing enough background information to new readers so they understand where in the overall story arc that book is; and making sure readers of the previous book(s) aren’t bored senseless by the repetition of known facts. It is a tricky thing, and I always applaud writers who manage it—particularly during long running series (J.D.Robb anyone?) […]

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