Review: Interlude in Death

Review: Interlude in DeathInterlude in Death (In Death, #12.5) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #12.5
Published by Berkley on August 29, 2006
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 88
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: This is a nice novella in the In Death world. The novella manages to pack in many of the same elements of the novels including the humor, romance, the large cast of characters, and an intriguing mystery.

THE STORY: Eve has one of the challenges of her career when she is supposed to give a speech (of all things) at a police convention at Roarke’s off-planet Olympus resort. When one of the attendees ends up murdered, Eve is on the case. The case is complicated by Eve having an altercation with the victim and his boss’s obsession with bringing down Roarke.

OPINION: This is a nice “interlude” in the series. It has all the elements in the full length novels, but manages to compact everything into less than 100 pages. I especially enjoyed that the story gives Eve and Roarke a significant amount of time together and yet there is plenty of time for action, for interaction with important characters in the series (pretty much all Eve’s colleagues), nuggets about Eve and Roarke’s pasts, and some sexy moments as well.

The story happens quickly and if there is any complaint it is that the mystery is not deep, but one cannot expect much more of a short novella. I did like that Eve is given a bump in the road by having a local cop to deal with.

The solution seemed pretty obvious to me at first, but I liked the twists even if it wasn’t really possible to reason out that solution, but regardless I liked the journey to get there.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book has an interesting moment when it is discussed why Eve is seemingly being passed over for promotion.

CONNECTED BOOKS: INTERLUDE IN DEATH is book 12.5 in the In Death series. This is a novella that gives a taste of the series. It can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

 

four-stars

Review: Betrayal in Death

Review: Betrayal in DeathBetrayal in Death (In Death, #12) by J.D. Robb, Nora Roberts
Series: In Death #12
Published by Berkley Books on March 1, 2001
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 355
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: More a thriller than a mystery, this one tests Eve’s skills as she hunts a professional killer who has Roarke in his sights. I loved the pacing of this one and the exploration of Roarke’s past.

THE STORY: The rape and murder of a hotel maid in one of Roarke’s hotels brings Eve on the case of a professional killer who seems to be targeting those who work for Roarke. Eve fears that Roake is the final target. But because the killer is a hired gun, Eve also has to figure out who is the hidden figure behind these crimes. The solution might rest in Roarke’s shady past.

OPINION: This is a page turner from beginning to end as Eve races against time to find the killer. The book is focused and exciting and has plenty of emotional heft between Eve and Roarke as she is the caretaker this time. This story shakes Roarke and Eve is the one who not only has to solve the crime but also manage the emotions of Roarke.

This book demonstrates how well this series does crime combined with serious character development. Eve and Roarke center this story. While the crimes are salacious and over the top at times, the emotional heart of the series is the relationship between these two and how they are opening up to one another and building a relationship.

The killer in this case is a professional who has some interesting quirks which make him memorable and particularly vicious. It is a particularly nasty episode, but the twist at the end gives this some good emotional connection.

WORTH MENTIONING: A cute part of the book is Eve and Roarke ending up giving relationship advice to Peabody and McNab.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BETRAYAL IN DEATH is the twelfth book in the In Death series. This book has an independent and stand alone mystery with continuing personal story lines.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

 

five-stars

Review: Murder in St. Giles

Review: Murder in St. GilesMurder in St. Giles by Ashley Gardner, Jennifer Ashley
Series: Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries #13
Published by JA / AG Publishing on April 10th 2018
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 300
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Very enjoyable entry in the series. This one is more mystery than personal but is an interesting jaunt with plenty of appearances by the cast of characters in the series.

THE STORY: Captain Lacey is called to look at a body in St. Giles by Brewster (who is the bodyguard/spy who follows Lacey around). The man appears to have been beaten to death and Lacey intends to make sure that Brewster is not unjustly accused of the crime. Lacey’s desire to investigate, however, is complicated by his stepson being in danger from his relatives who want to take him away to live with them. This mystery has multiple layers and storylines.

OPINION: This book is focused primarily on the mystery which although Lacey has some concerns about protecting Brewster is not really a personal quest for Lacey. Instead, there is some distance between his emotions and the case (which happens to make him more rational in his investigations). Indeed, the book has a very meaty set of clues and characters who need to be interviewed. The story has a nice flow and ultimately the solution works perfectly for the set of facts.

For me, however, I prefer these books for the personal journeys of Lacey rather than the pure mystery portion of the book. The moments I remember best are of Lacey’s humor and relationships with the recurring cast in the book. Ultimately, I most enjoyed that Lacey has some struggle to make in determining the relative moral positions of the people that he meets.

The secondary story about Lacey’s stepson works to give some personal drama that the main mystery is lacking. I wish that there had been more integration of that story throughout, but I still enjoyed the chaos that the conflict causes in the Lacey household. The ending of that story and the book were especially well done. In fact, the last couple of chapters had me bumping up my rating because the surprises that were revealed. My appreciation was entirely character based as development and changes were evident. This book also nicely sets up some developments that I’m certain will be explored in future books.

WORTH MENTIONING: I’ve become a big fan of a bunch of historical mysteries lately. This series is one of my favorites because Lacey is so imperfect a character who has a strong moral compass that doesn’t always follow the rules.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MURDER IN ST. GILES is the thirteenth book in the Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries series. This mystery is self-contained but there are characters that have stories which go from book to book. I think the book can be read as a standalone unless having to catch up bothers you.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book from the author in order to prepare a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars

Review: Judgment in Death

Review: Judgment in DeathJudgment in Death (In Death, #11) by J.D. Robb, Nora Roberts
Series: In Death #11
Published by Berkley Books on September 1st 2000
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 356
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: This is a great character book. The mystery was okay, but I loved how the mystery brings out some conflicts with characters and also gives the opportunity to delve more into Eve and Roarke’s pasts.

THE STORY: When a cop is found beaten to death in one of Roake’s clubs, Eve has to wonder what the motive is. When things about the cop are revealed, it appears that someone it targeting dirty cops. Both Eve and Roarke also find that people from their pasts are mixed up in the case as well which makes their own relationship a little bumpy for a while.

OPINION: This book is an example of what I enjoy about this series. I read the books as the character story of Eve with the mysteries and crimes as the excuse to delve into her world. Honestly, I find the crimes interesting, but I don’t generally analyze them. I want to know more about these characters and how they react to the crises before them.

This book is a good example of that. For me, the central conflict in this story is between Eve and Roarke when their pasts come back against to haunt them in this case. In comparison to the relative happiness in the prior book, this book reignites some of the conflicts between Eve and Roarke. While this is the eleventh book in the series, the two have been together for just over a year. They still have much to work through in their relationship and as things from the past pop out to disturb their happiness, Eve and Roarke have to navigate their relationship.

This book has some significant events especially about Eve’s past. There are lingering questions about Eve’s past and this book brings new information to light that will continue to be teased out in future books.

My favorite scenes in this book involve Webster. He becomes a catalyst in this book and I like the mess he stirs up.

The crime works well to carry the character moments for a purpose, but otherwise I didn’t find it one of the memorable ones.

WORTH MENTIONING: Man fight! This book also is the introduction of Max Richter.

CONNECTED BOOKS: JUDGMENT IN DEATH is the eleventh book in the In Death series. This series has mysteries in each book that operate as standalones but overarching character storylines. I think it is better to read the series in order to get the full impact, but this book can be read as a mystery standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Witness in Death

Review: Witness in DeathWitness in Death (In Death, #10) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #10
Published by Berkley Books on March 6th 2000
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 338
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This one feels like an old fashioned mystery novel with lots of suspects with a motive and the detective having to use physical evidence and interviews to ferret out the killer. One of the better mysteries of the series.

THE STORY: An actor is murdered on stage in full view of all the audience, including Lieutenant Eve Dallas. Now Eve has to figure out who the killer is. Since her husband Roarke owns the theater and other people she knows have connections to the crime, Eve has to work in the spotlight to solve the crime.

OPINION: This is a book where, appropriately, the murder is committed during a performance of Witness for the Prosecution and then the mystery itself feels like an Agatha Christie mystery including the gathering of suspects for the big reveal at the end.

The emphasis in this one is definitely on the mystery although there are some nice scenes between Eve and Roarke. I also enjoyed the continuing character development of Eve’s friends. Both Peabody and Nadine have important roles in this book.

I think the books where Eve has a personal connection to the murders works best and her friends having connections work almost as well. The story also is teasing out Eve’s continuing struggles with her past. Much as been resolved and Eve is happier, but things are still lurking that she struggles with. This book only teases those issues gently, but I like that her past has not been easily resolved and set aside.

WORTH MENTIONING: My favorite part of this book is Eve setting up a romantic dinner for her and Roarke. This is a turning point in their relationship as she begins to do those regular romantic gestures which make a good relationship.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WITNESS IN DEATH is the tenth book in the In Death series. This series has standalone mysteries with continuing character storylines. This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Loyalty in Death

Review: Loyalty in DeathLoyalty in Death (In Death, #9) by J.D. Robb
Published by Berkley on October 1st 1999
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 358
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Loved this book because of the great development in the characters and the relationships. The mystery was good and I liked that there was a sense of urgency that moved the story along.

THE STORY: Eve’s newest criminal is a bomber by the name of Cassandra who intends to brag about the crime by sending letters to Eve to engage her. Eve must race the clock to find out the motives of the bomber before those she cares about are the target.

OPINION: The highlight of this book is really the character development that happens. Eve and Roarke are on fire in this one. I prefer when Eve and Roarke are working closely in the stories. Yes, she is a cop and shouldn’t be relying on her husband all the time, but I read these books more for the relationships than the mysteries so I want to see more of Eve and Roarke together as much as possible.

In this book, Peabody is a significant part of the story as her brother comes to visit and gets into some trouble of his own. I liked that the series is branching out and making other characters have significant story lines of their own.

The mystery in this case is a bit strange, but well constructed as things end up fitting together in the end.  This book also has one of the most dramatic endings of a book in the series. A great set piece.

WORTH MENTIONING: Peabody and McNab!

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOYALTY IN DEATH is the ninth book in the In Death series. Each book in this series has a self-contained mystery although there are ongoing character development issues throughout the series. This particular book, however, can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Lord John and the Private Matter

Review: Lord John and the Private MatterLord John and the Private Matter (Lord John Grey, #1) by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Lord John Grey #1
Published by Delta on October 26th 2004
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 334
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: A dense and intriguing political and social mystery. The tone of this book is different from the Outlander books because it is focused on the mystery, but there is plenty of historical doings. And I love the character of Lord John Grey.

THE STORY: Lord John Grey has got a family matter on his mind (he’s concerned that his cousin might be betrothed to a man with the pox) when he is tasked with investigating the murder of a comrade who might have been a traitor. He can’t turn away from either so he works on finding the truth on both matters.

OPINION: For readers looking for another OUTLANDER, it will not be found here. However, some of the same elements from that series — a sense of historical presence, intriguing tidbits from history and compelling characters.

This book also is simply fun in many ways with Lord John investigating a murder and also investigating his cousins betrothed. I really liked his character here as we are treated to seeing his cleverness, his determination and his essential kindness.

We get to see how Lord John struggles with his homosexuality — not who his is, but how he has to hide himself where society will destroy him because of who he is. We see him dealing with how to live his life when he has to live his truth in the shadows.

But mostly this book is about Lord John’s investigation, the political intrigue and murder. Lord John travels the underbelly of society in order to talk with people. The books feels like the genre of mysteries of Agatha Christie based very much on the talking and personalities of the people with a few physical clues dropped in. I have a fondness for these types of mysteries and liked this one.

WORTH MENTIONING: Jamie doesn’t appear in this book but is mentioned.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER is the first novel in the Lord John Grey series. This is a spinoff of the Outlander series. It is not necessary, however, to read the Outlander series to enjoy this one and the genre and tone of this series is very different as the books focus on mysteries/crimes to be solved.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Conspiracy in Death

Review: Conspiracy in DeathConspiracy in Death (In Death, #8) by J.D. Robb, Nora Roberts
Series: In Death #8
Published by Berkley Books on April 1st 1999
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 372
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: A dangerous and powerful killer is determined to keep secrets and will do anything — even destroy Eve — for protection. This is one of the best in the series because the story hits close to Eve when the killer turns on her.

THE STORY: A killer is expertly removing organs from vulnerable people for a mysterious purpose. The first kill is a street person with his heart removed in a precise and clean manner. It appears that the killer might be a well-trained surgeon.  When Eve presses for answers, she becomes a danger and has to be eliminated. Suddenly Eve, herself, is in the crosshairs and has to fight for what matters to her along with uncovering the killer.

OPINION: This is one of my favorite books in the series because of the connection between the events in the case and Eve’s personal life. And the connection is done in an interesting way and not the typical sexual crime case that triggers her memories so often.

Readers of the series know that Eve has a childhood filled with rape and abuse. She has made herself by dedicating herself to her job. This book challenges that part of her life and Eve has to deal with that along with solving the crime. When I read these books, I am not as interested in the solving of the crime as I am with the overarching story about Eve.

For me, this book by forcing Eve to confront some of her deepest fears about herself shows her strength and determination and also how much she has changed from the closed off woman from NAKED IN DEATH.

Although Eve is deeply challenged here, she is not alone anymore.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book introduces both Don Webster and Louise Dimatto.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CONSPIRACY IN DEATH is the eighth book in the In Death series. The crime/mystery is completely separate and independent, but there are continuing personal story lines in the series. I suggest the series be read in order because of the significant personal stories.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Midnight in Death

Review: Midnight in DeathMidnight in Death (In Death #7.5) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #7.5
Published by Berkley on September 27th 2005
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 90
Goodreads
four-stars

“It didn’t look as though the last days of December 2058 were going to be much of a party.”

FINAL DECISION: A quick and dirty crime investigation centered primarily on the personal aspect of Eve’s job. The compressed nature of this story ratcheted up tension in this story and the emphasis on the personal rather than the crime details makes this a really good story.

THE STORY: It’s Christmas and a killer has a naughty list of targets. Newly escaped from prison, the killer is out to get revenge against those who put him behind bars. He is taking, torturing and leaving the bodies in public view. Eve in in a race to stop him from killing more especially with both Dr. Mira and Eve are on the list so.

OPINION: This is an enjoyable novella and one that I recommend to people who just want to try out the In Death series without committing to a full novel. The crimes and investigation are compressed with a lot of pressure on Eve. Yet all the elements that make the series successful: the personal connection Eve has, the love between her and Rourke, the friendships that Eve has, and the humor and drama are all present in this story.

Things are clearer and more blunt in many ways because of the short story but I enjoyed that this book continues and expands all the important parts of the ongoing story in the series.

For readers of the series, this offers some drama and developments in Eve’s relationship with Dr. Mira.

The novella also allows some intense moments with Eve and Rourke that I enjoyed a great deal.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book follows immediately from the events of HOLIDAY IN DEATH and also serves as an epilogue to that book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MIDNIGHT IN DEATH is a novella in the In Death series and is book 7.5 of that series. This novella fits right in for readers of the series, but is a nice little crime mystery for those who haven’t dipped into the series yet.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Holiday in Death

Review: Holiday in DeathHoliday in Death (In Death, #7) by J.D. Robb
Published by Berkley on June 1st 1998
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 308
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: My favorite of the holiday mysteries. This one is a good crime mystery. Creepy and strange and what is better than a murderous Santa?

THE STORY: It’s almost Christmas time and Eve is struggling with getting gifts for all the people in her life and wonders if it was better when she was alone. At the same time a murderer has decided to make victims of people searching for true love. Taking inspiration from the song the Twelve Days of Christmas, the killer is hunting for a true love, killing them and leaving them decorated for Christmas with tokens of love. Eve has to work fast because this killer is quickly working through twelve loves.

OPINION: This is one of my go-to holiday reads. The story is really creepy and sinister in its crimes but it is nicely balanced by the innocence of Eve getting Christmas gifts. Although she has a hard shell, she is quite sweet when trying to do her holiday shopping.

I also enjoyed this one because the sexual violence brings more development of Eve’s personal story. She is growing and changing and healing from the horror of what happened to her as a child. While violent and horrible as crimes, this is a very intriguing and intense crime. The days are going quickly and the pace of the killers crime is especially draining for Eve who is fighting her personal demons along with trying to solve the crimes and stop anyone else from dying.

There is also quite a bit of chemistry between Peabody and McNabb as they are circling one another.

For me, I really enjoy the iconic characters involved in this case. The characters and the crimes are one that are memorable and the situations and solutions feel important and high in tension.

WORTH MENTIONING: The novella MIDNIGHT IN DEATH is a companion to this because it also occurs during this same holiday season and is closely related to this book as it deals with the aftermath.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HOLIDAY IN DEATH is the seventh book in the In Death series. The mystery is entirely separate and can be read as a standalone. Because there are overarching character story lines, I think it is better to read these in order, but this is one in the series that works on its own.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars