Review: Echoes in Death

Review: Echoes in DeathEchoes in Death (In Death, #44) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #44
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 7th 2017
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 400

FINAL DECISION:  A good mystery story, this book has some nice twists.  I miss the intensity and drama of Eve’s personal life.  She’s so settled now that it is a nice respite, but there is no doubt that the earlier books in the series were more compelling.

THE STORY:  NY Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas is driving home with her billionaire husband Roarke when a naked, disoriented and abused woman runs out.  Daphne Strazza has been held hostage in her home, abused and raped.  When Eve goes to investigate, she finds that Daphne’s husband has been murdered.  As Eve and her family and friends investigate, they find that someone is targeting couples.

OPINION: I first want to explain that I have been reading this series since the beginning — over 20 years.  I early await every new installment of the series.  I will also confess that I prefer the earlier books in the series where there was more conflict in Eve’s life.  That being said, after 40 plus books, I don’t expect the characters or their situation to remain the same.  Now Eve is more balanced, more centered and more peaceful.  As a result, there is less personal drama in the recent books in this series.

Without the personal drama, the story rests far more on the actual mystery/crime being solved.  This one is pretty good on that account.  Eve is investigating a serial rapist who always involves a couple. I thought the way the story evolved and revealed itself created a sense of tension and drama.  Longtime readers will know that sex crimes take a toll on Eve because of her past and her handling of this one demonstrates how strong and open she has become.  There is definite pleasure in seeing that development while readers who haven’t followed the entire journey can enjoy the mystery.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Usually I don’t find the mysteries in these books compelling (with a few exceptions).  This time I thought the mystery was well constructed and worth trying to figure out.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ECHOES IN DEATH is the forty-fourth book in the In Death (Eve Dallas) series.  The book has a self contained mystery and there is not much continuing storyline although a new reader would have to pick up on the world and the characters without much explanation.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Apprentice in Death

Review: Apprentice in DeathApprentice in Death by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #43
Published by Berkley on September 6th 2016
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 375

“It would be the first kill.”

FINAL DECISION:  Eve Dallas and her band of friends and investigators take on a sniper killing in New York.  This book fits the pattern of the most recent books which focuses more on a crime.  Eve is more balanced and well adjusted and as such there is not much drama there.  An interesting story although there is not much drama in the whodunnit rather it is a “how do we capture the killer” book.

THE STORY: In January 2061, four people are shot at an ice rink in Central Park.  Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas is called to the scene.  She quickly realizes that the murders were committed by a sniper and fears that this is just the beginning.  With the help of her fellow officers and her billionaire husband Roarke, Eve must find the motive and the murderer and stop any further killings.

OPINION:  This is a fast paced mystery story.  The action in the book takes place over only a few days and as a result, the book constantly feels in motion.  I prefer the slower paced, whodunnit type stories, but this one is a quick paced suspense story.

On the positive side, I like the reappearance and reliance upon relationships.  Eve has changed tremendously over this series and this book shows how her development actually aids her ability to do her job.  She is clearly a more effective detective and a more well balanced person now.  While the angst has been reduced, the humor has been retained.

This book allows us to return to the wacky and brilliant way that Eve’s mind works as she solves the crime.  I especially enjoy how Eve is able to place herself in the varying positions of criminal and victim.  She understands and that is her talent.  What has changed in these books is that Eve is able to have a space for her own life.

I don’t want to give anything away, but the mastermind of this case is frightening to consider.  The story is creepy in its own way and fascinating.

If you like the In Death books, this one follows much of the pattern of the recent books and so if you liked them, you should like this one as well.  For a new reader, I still recommend that you start with the first book in the series NAKED IN DEATH which is simply fabulous.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Bella’s first birthday party and redecorating.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  APPRENTICE IN DEATH is the forty-third book in the In Death series.  While the mystery in the book is a complete standalone, there are relationships and overarching stories for the series.  While these do not prevent a new reader from starting here, new readers must recognize that there is a history behind this book.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Brotherhood in Death

Review: Brotherhood in DeathBrotherhood in Death (In Death, #42) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #42
Published by Berkley on February 2nd 2016
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 388

Dennis Mira is Adorable

“Time doesn’t heal, whatever they say. It’s how we use the time that can heal.”

FINAL DECISION; Perfectly adequate, this book is best in its character moments. Eve and Dennis Mira’s relationship develops here. Also, Eve and Roarke continue to deepen their relationship. The mystery had too many players to interest me as much as the personal stories.

THE STORY: Dennis Mira goes to confront his cousin over the house they inherited together when Dennis gets hit over the head but not before he sees his cousin tied up. When he awakens, his cousin is gone. He calls for Eve to help investigate. Eve has always had a soft spot for Dennis Mira and she is determined to find out what happened. This leads her to look into the expensive real estate that the cousins were bickering about but then something else happens that turns Eve’s investigation in a new direction.

OPINION: This book revisits a little of the angst of Eve’s personal journey. I appreciate that while she has largely resolved her personal issues regarding her past, she still has moments where the past wells up in her. This book is largely about the past and how a person can choose to heal and move on or dwell endlessly in the past and thus be subsumed by it. For me, the books in this series work best where there is overlap between Eve’s personal journey and the crime she is investigating. I read these book because of the characters — not because of the mysteries. This book allows both Eve and the reader to see how far Eve and traveled and what can happen when one does not allow time to heal.

WORTH MENTIONING: As a sign of how Eve has changed, she is now wearing a silly knit hat because it was given to her as a gift.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BROTHERHOOD IN DEATH is the 42nd book in the In Death series. It can be read as a standalone although there are long running characters developments that transcend the one book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Down the Rabbit Hole

Review: Down the Rabbit HoleDown the Rabbit Hole (In Death, #41.5) by J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Elaine Fox, Mary Kay McComas, R.C. Ryan
Published by Jove on September 29th 2015
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 432

Weird and Fun Collection of Five Novellas

This collection is of five novellas that have as a starting point Alice in Wonderland. The stories are not retellings of Alice in Wonderland but rather have some thematic connection to that novel.

WONDERMENT IN DEATH by J.D. Robb — In number 41.5 in the In Death series, Lieutenant Eve Dallas is investigating a murder suicide. She takes the case because the victims are close to her friends Dr. Louise and Charles. Once Eve begins to investigate things become strange. Although the case should easily be explained away, something bothers Eve. Her investigation leads her to the Mad Hatter and a man who believes death is his domain. I didn’t think this novellas was as strong as other novellas in the series. The mystery is given away from the beginning and there is little intriguing interaction with Eve’s supporting cast to sustain the story. I prefer stories focusing on Eve and Rourke, but this one is mostly case investigation. Rating: 4 stars.

ALICE AND THE EARL IN WONDERLAND by Mary Blayney — This is a companion novella about time travel. This is the story of the Earl Weston and his love Alice Kemp who are transported from the 1800s to present day. Alice has refused to marry Weston because her parents are divorced and thus she will causes scandal. Weston is determined to take this opportunity to convince Alice to marry him. This story wan’t that interesting to me. The whole story is about the two finding out that in modern times things are different about women’s roles and divorce. I didn’t feel any connection between the characters and found the whole story pretty dull. Rating: 1.5 stars.

ILOVE by Elaine Fox — Jeremy Abott and Mary Serafini breakup because Mary thinks Jeremy pays more attention to his cellphone than her. Jeremy gets sucked into an alternate world where he is trapped within the Wonderland of his cellphone. He needs to have a true relationship in order to escape. Can he convince Mary to give him another chance? This is a strange little story. It has in interesting premise but it reads more like a complaint about cellphone addiction than a romance. Rating: 2 stars.

A TRUE HEART by Mary Kay McComas — Elisa is a woman who is guarding herself from fears of being hurt and disappointed. She has just broken up with Max who she liked but was unwilling to risk herself. When she steps into a costume shop, she falls into a world where with the help of a costume guide she uncovers what is actually in her heart. I really liked this story. Really a story of self-discovery, with a touch of a Christmas Carol, this novella tells the story of a romance from a different perspective. Rating: 4 stars.

FALLEN by R.C. Ryan — Beth Campbell, a lawyer, is sent by her aunt’s firm to negotiate the sale of a piece of ancestral property from Colin Gordon in Scotland. On the way there, Beth hits her head and falls into a whole and awakens in the past amongst the Highland clans. In a magical world where people transform and dangerous plots emerge, Beth learns about what is important to her heart. This was my favorite of the anthology. It is romantic and clever with a lot of story and romantic connection in the short novella. The story ultimately resolved differently than I expected and I like when a story can surprise me. The story has a dreamy fairy tale quality to it. It also manages to be sad and then resolve so perfectly that I walked away from the story with a smile. Rating: 4.25


Review: Devoted in Death

Review: Devoted in DeathDevoted in Death (In Death, #41) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #41
Published by Berkley on September 15th 2015
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 374

Good Story Which Contrasts Loving Couples

“She turned to him, her face lit like the sun, her eyes huge, full of wonder and want. ‘We killed somebody. Together.'”

“There has to be trust to work as a team.”

FINAL DECISION: The latest entry in the In Death series has an interesting premise where the murderous lovers are shown in contrast with Eve and Roarke. I found this book to be in the middle of the In Death series of books. I believe the best books connect personally with Eve. This book is more distant from Eve and her team and I think the book suffers for it.

THE STORY: It is 2061 and Lieutenant Eve Dallas is in pursuit of a team of spree killers that are traveling across the country committing murders in their wake. This pair of lovers kill together in gruesome ways. The couple has traveled to New York City. When they commit a murder in Eve’s jurisdiction, she catches their scent and uncovers their bloody wake. She has to work with her team including her husband Roarke to find these killers before their latest victims are found dead.

OPINION: The In Death series is popular because it continues to deliver its unique combination of futuristic police procedural and suspense with a wonderful romance that continues to grow and evolve.
This book is interesting because there is a direct contrast between the murderous lovers and Eve and Roarke. The underlying themes are about trust and love and what makes a relationship. Ultimately, of course, the relationship between Eve and Roarke is shown to be superior as they catch the bad guys. The complexity of how this issue is handled makes this an interesting read.

There is no mystery here. This is one of the books where the murderers are revealed immediately and thus it is the race to keep them for killing again that is the focus of the story. I don’t mind the books where the focus is not on “whodunnit” and in this book the identity of the killers being known allows the direct comparison between the different couples in the story.

Longtime readers of the series will know that things have calmed down for Eve and those she cares for in the last few books. There is more focus on the suspense stories and less on the drama of the relationships. I do miss that element of the stories, but I do like that Eve and Roarke have reached such a good place in their relationship. I also like that Eve is given some peace in her own life after having such sadness and pain. While there are 41 books in the series, the time that has passed in the story is less than 3 years. Thus, there is some relief in the happiness of the characters rather than drama.

I would rate this book in the middle of the series. I do think the best books are where Eve is personally engaged rather than professionally. This story is good, but not one of the great ones of the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: I missed Eve and Roarke in this book. They are both there, but their interaction is less than the best of the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DEVOTED IN DEATH Is the 41st book in the In Death series. The books have self-contained mysteries and thus can be read as standalones. The series, however, has continuing relationships between the characters. I believe these relationships are really the center of the series and thus it is better to read the series from the beginning (plus the first group of books are the absolute best).

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Obsession in Death

Review: Obsession in DeathObsession in Death (In Death, #40) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #40
Published by Berkley on February 10th 2015
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 404

Couldn’t Put This One Down

“No suspects, no leads. No known connection between killer and victim — except for herself. No known motive — except for herself.”

THE STORY: Eve Dallas is enjoying the end of the year when an antagonist from her past is murdered. What brings the attention of the prominent homicide lieutenant, however, is the letter written to her left at the scene. The murderer is obsessed with Eve and is committing murders in an attempt to impress her. Eve must look back at her prior cases and interactions with people to discovery who might be a victim and look to those around her to find out who is the killer.

OPINION: This is one of the best In Death books in a while. While Eve has resolved most of her past, she is confronted here with her celebrity in a way that makes her feel guilty. When Eve is personally challenged by a case, the drama and tension of the story is increased. The entire story feels more open, more grounded and more natural. There are some very fun moments with the secondary characters and they don’t feel forced or put in to check off points. They arise naturally from the story. As with much of Eve’s story, the crisis in this book brings her to acknowledge the importance of those she has surrounded herself with in the last years. Even as Eve is challenged by this killer, it is refreshing to see her turning naturally to those around her rather than going it alone. Eve has come far from the isolated woman in NAKED IN DEATH and longtime readers can really appreciate her growth.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book rewards those fans who have read the prior books since there are plenty of references to Eve’s prior cases.

FINAL DECISION: This is my favorite In Death book in a while. I feel these books are best when Eve is personally engaged in the crime being solved. This book satisfies that requirement. There is good rapport with all the secondary characters and Eve and Roarke are incredibly in tune here.

CONNECTED BOOKS: OBSESSION IN DEATH is the fortieth book in the In Death series. While this book references old cases of Eve’s, a new reader should be able to catch up pretty quickly and could enjoy this book as well.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Festive in Death

Review: Festive in DeathFestive in Death (In Death, #39) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #39
Published by Berkley on September 9th 2014
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 389

Eve’s Personal Life More Interesting Than Mystery

FESTIVE IN DEATH is the latest entry in the long running In Death series. As usual, the story is divided between the personal life and growth of Eve Dallas, the New York murder cop, her husband Roarke and now her increasing number of friends and colleagues and the mystery of the book. This book’s personal focus is on the Christmas holiday. These books have a formula now and this book is right in the normal mold.

THE STORY: As Christmas approaches, Eve is learning to cope with her life as she has a more normal life having resolved most of her horrible childhood. As she says in this book, it never completely leaves her, but she can go forward. Over the past several years described in the preceding books, Eve has acquired a number of friends that she now has to shop for. She also has to deal with the annual Christmas party that Roarke hosts.

Eve is also investigating the murder of personal trainer Trey Ziegler who had a secret stash of cash and a whole lot of women who got his “personal” treatment. Eve dislikes the victim but dislikes the crime even more and aggressively looks for the murderer.

OPINION: For this book, I found the murder mystery pretty bland. I wasn’t particularly interested in the crime, the victims or the potential suspects. That being said, I really enjoyed the look into Eve’s mindset at this point. It is nice seeing her become more open as a person, being able to express caring for others more openly. She has matured quite a bit over the last several books and it is nice seeing her construct a happy life for herself. This book felt more like a reward for longtime readers as Eve touches base with various people in her life.

WORTH MENTIONING: My favorite part of the book — “pink magic coat”.

FINAL DECISION: This book has its moments that I really enjoyed. The murder was not particularly compelling but I am enjoying seeing Eve begin to adjust to a life with friends and family. There is a sense of relaxing into her life and the reaching of the promise that Eve having other people to care about makes her a better cop. The best part of this book is Eve’s personal life.

CONNECTED BOOKS: FESTIVE IN DEATH is the 39th In Death book. Because the personal parts of this book are better than the mystery, I recommend this for fans of the series. There are better In Death books for new readers.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Concealed in Death

Review: Concealed in DeathConcealed in Death (In Death, #38) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #38
Published by Berkley on February 18th 2014
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 402

A More Settled, Happier Eve

CONCEALED IN DEATH is the 38th novel in J.D. Robb’s series following the cases of Eve Dallas, a lieutenant in New York in the near future. The novel begins for the first time from her husband Roarke’s point of view. While in the process of beginning a tear down of the interior of an old building, two bodies wrapped in plastic are discovered. Soon twelve skeletons of young teenage girls are discovered. Eve and friends are soon engaged in discovering what happened to end these young lives. The investigation brings Eve into the world of street kids that touches some of her past, Roarke’s and especially her friend Mavis’s.

I enjoyed this book. For me the last few books have been uneven. Since NEW YORK TO DALLAS, there hasn’t been a book that has really gripped me. This one doesn’t rise to the levels of earlier books in the series. Since the resolution of Eve’s past, much of the series angst and tension has dissipated. Eve feels more happy, more settled and more reconciled rob her past and her present.

The focus here is on the victims. As Robb does with most of the books in the In Death series, the theme of the crime is mirrored with our crew of regular characters. That works better here than in the last few books. Eve, Roarke and Mavis all recognize a kinship with the victims but the recognition is softer than some of the earlier books. Because the crimes are old, this has more of a cold case feel. The pave is slower, allowing for more contemplation about the connections and circumstances.

A longtime reader of the series will find plenty of references and continuity to revel in. We also have the chance to meet a new character, Dr. Garnet DeWinter, a forensic anthropologist, who seems destined to become a recurring character.

I would rate this book in the middle of the series. Not one of the best, but better than the last few.

I recommend it.


Review: Naked in Death

Review: Naked in DeathNaked in Death (In Death, #1) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #1
Published by Berkley on July 1st 1995
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 320

Just a Great Book

“She didn’t hurry as she walked to him. Something told her he was a man too used to people — woman certainly — rushing toward him. So she took her time, her long, slow strides flapping her borrowed coat against her chilly legs.”

THE STORY: Lieutenant Eve Dallas is a detective in New York in the mid-21st century. When the granddaughter of a powerful Senator is killed, Eve begins an investigation that takes her from the political powers in Washington and New York and the business powers where she meets the mysterious billionaire Rourke. Determined to solve the crime and prevent more death, Eve finds herself attracted to Rourke — who might be the man she is searching for — the murderer.

OPINION: NAKED IN DEATH is one of my favorite books and is the book that I recommend to anyone looking for a good read. Intense, fun, romantic, surprising, this book has it all.

Eve Dallas is one of the most well-rounded and interesting characters. She is powerful, smart and strong. She is well respected in her job and doesn’t need rescue of anyone. She has a quick mind that the reader will want to follow as she uncovers the truth about the crimes she is investigating. At the same time, she is vulnerable and as readers learn more about her, her success only becomes more amazing.

Rourke is mysterious and appropriately, readers know as much about him as Eve does. Sexy and dangerous, the question is raised whether this will be the man who ends up being the perpetrator of the horrific crimes that Eve is investigating. Eve’s attraction to Rourke is both understandable and also possibly deadly. I am a fan of stories where the romantic involvement is questionable and might be dangerous to the hero/heroine.

A bevy of intriguing secondary characters are set out here. Those characters will make reappearances in future books. Those characters will be fleshed out and the lives further revealed so readers can feel good about liking them.

The pacing of the book builds tension as secrets are slowly revealed. I truly recommend not reading spoilers on this book — not only because it ruins the mystery of the plot, but also because the character reveals are part of the character development. This is not merely a mystery, but the story always serves the purpose of character development. The close connection between story and character is one of the strengths of not only NAKED IN DEATH but the entire In Death series.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

WORTH MENTIONING: Content disclosure: This book and series deal in depth and seriously with rape and incest so those who are sensitive to those issues should consider themselves forewarned.

FINAL DECISION: Fabulous book that crosses genres. Near time sci-fi mystery with a strong romance, NAKED IN DEATH demonstrates some of the best of all these by having great writing, emotional connections with and between characters, and an interesting and engaging plot. This is THE book that I give to friends who want a book recommendation.

CONNECTED BOOKS: NAKED IN DEATH is the first book in the In Death series. The series follows Eve Dallas and the cases she investigates.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.