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

Review: Vengeance in Death

Review: Vengeance in DeathVengeance in Death (In Death, #6) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #6
Published by Berkley on March 3rd 2007
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 388
Goodreads
five-stars

“Revenge was always personal.”

FINAL DECISION: One of the best of the series. This one perfectly blends the personal story of Eve and Rourke with the mystery. This book gives readers more background on Rourke and the mystery is especially strong.

THE STORY: When Eve is called by a murdered who gives riddles to the scenes of crimes, she finds that her life and that of her husband are more closely involved in this case than she would like. With a clever murderer who is out for revenge, Eve must use every resource at her disposal to find the murderer before he reaches his ultimate goal — which might be her husband Rourke.

OPINION: This is one of the tent pole books in the series. This book is fantastic both in the mystery which is filled with drama and creepy and it is totally personal. Eve is completely dedicated to this case and it shows in her anxiety and her laser focus on what is going on.

This book is remarkable for its emphasis on Rourke’s story. Six books in and this is the first opportunity for readers to get a better idea of what Rourke’s past looks like. In the book there is both revelations about what Rourke was doing and also the very personal look at his relationships. This book gives Rourke a chance to revisit and reconcile some of his past.

Both the darkness and the contrast with current life makes this book intense and essential to the series.

Someone is out for revenge against Rourke and the personal insult and fear that possesses Eve makes this book work on various levels. Both Eve and Rourke are completely engaged which makes for a stellar entry. Although the two are married, this book allows more development in their relationship.

The mystery is also very dramatic and interesting in a race against time.

If I had to boil the series down to five books, this would be one of the ones I would pick.

WORTH MENTIONING: The first appearance of Ian McNab.

CONNECTED BOOKS: VENGEANCE IN DEATH is the sixth book in the In Death series. The mysteries in these books are standalones. However, there are overarching storylines about the characters. This book is connected to information learned in prior books and I think this book is much better being read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

 

five-stars

Review: Ceremony in Death

Review: Ceremony in DeathCeremony In Death (In Death, #5) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #5
Published by Berkley on April 11th 2007
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 336
Goodreads
four-stars

“Murder had come into her life before and would again. But someone would pay for bringing it into her home.”

FINAL DECISION: Not as tight or interesting as the prior books in the series, I enjoyed this one more for the relationship side of the story than the mystery itself which seemed a bit unreal and less grounded than others in the series.  Still a good book.

THE STORY: Eve is tasked with investigating the death of a police officer. There is some suspicion that Feeney might have been involved in a coverup of drug abuse by the officer, so Eve not only has to do an investigation, but also hide it from her mentor and substitute father. Eve’s investigation takes her into a group of Satanists.

OPINION: Personally I was only marginally interested in the mystery in this book, but I really loved how the book pushes forward the relationship of Eve and Feeney. He is her mentor and her father in many ways, but here she is ordered to engage in an investigation keeping him in the dark (as he is a possible target). This causes Eve to have to acknowledge the importance of their relationship. For me, the scenes with Feeney are the highlight of the book.

The underlying theme in this book is family and the book raises issues that Eve and Rourke have to confront time and time again.

Wiccans make several appearances in Robb’s romance books and therefore it is not surprising that Robb makes a point of separating the practicing witches from the Satanist cult members who are involved in the murders.

The feeling of this book slides more magical. At times it threatens to disrupt the grounded and realistic tone of the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: The introduction of the character of Jamie.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CEREMONY IN DEATH is the fifth book in the In Death series. While each book is a standalone in terms of the mystery involved, there are continuing character stories throughout the series.  I believe the books are better read in order, but this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Dark in Death

Review: Dark in DeathDark in Death (In Death, #46) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #46
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 30th 2018
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 384
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This is on the lower end of the series’ books for me. The book felt more self-indulgent (since it too is about a series of mystery books) and the pace was really slow. A decent entry, but not among the best.

THE STORY: A woman is murdered during a showing of Psycho in a way that recalls the murder in a detective series. When it turns out that it is not the first murder replicated from the series, Eve must figure out who is obsessed with the thriller series and who is the next target.

OPINION: I wanted to like this book, but it took forever for me to get into the story even though the concept sounded great in the blurb. I still think the more recent books suffer because of the movement away from the personal journey of Eve to more a standard mystery format.

I just started re-reading the series and having just read the first couple books in the series, it is quite obvious that this book lacks something compelling pushing it forward. For that reason, I was able to continually walk away from this book and it took me several days to read when I usually finish the book in a day.

I’m not sure what exactly struck me wrong about this book. I think there really didn’t feel like an urgency to the story even though there were the possibilities for continuing murders. Also because the mystery series is made up, there is no way to feel connected with the possible murders coming up. There is also a distance between Eve and the killer which means that the crime is a bit more intellectual.

I did really like several elements of the story. Eve and Rourke are alone as Summerset takes his vacation and the two have a different vibe when it is just the two of them living in that big house. Their relationship has grown and deepened and I appreciate that the author allows her characters to grow and change as their relationship deepens.

I also thought that the last few chapters really were a good resolution to the story and I’m glad that I persevered through the book.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are also some wonderful moments with Eve and the secondary characters especially Feeney. I keep hoping that we will get some stories with the secondary characters which might increase the personal interest in the stories.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DARK IN DEATH is the forty-sixth book in the In Death series. As the series has continued, there has been movement away from the overarching storylines so this book can pretty much be read as a standalone although it doesn’t really introduce the characters if you haven’t read about them before.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Rapture in Death

Review: Rapture in DeathRapture in Death (In Death, #4) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #4
Published by Berkley on March 3rd 2007
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 417
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: An enjoyable combination of relationship and crime mystery, RAPTURE IN DEATH deals with the early days of Eve and Roarke’s marriage along with a series of “suicides” among people who seem to have no reason to want to die.

THE STORY: A series of suicides where each person dies with a mocking smile on his or her face doesn’t sit well with Eve. She seems to find some brain abnormalities but no one can find a cause or whether or not someone is orchestrating these deaths. Just back from her honeymoon, Eve and Roarke settle down into their marriage while Eve (with Roarke’s help) tries to figure out who is targeting high profile New Yorkers.

OPINION: This is one of the early books in the series that made this a superlative series. I believe that the best books in the series (and this is one of them) have a great balance between the personal issues of Eve (here she is adjusting to her new marriage) and a rousing crime that Eve solves (and the best books have her working directly with Roarke as much as possible).

This book still feels fresh after I’ve read it at least a dozen times over the years. Eve and Roarke are vibrant characters and the crime had a double twisty resolution. There are a lot of things going on, plenty of significant appearances by the secondary characters and just a great centering on Eve and Roarke.

I don’t read these books as crime dramas or mysteries because I think that overall they are only just above average on those aspects because there is no real way to solve these mysteries on the clues given.  I read them as character driven stories about Eve and her life. This book does a great job of expanding on the characters in the series and thus is one of the better books in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Hubba Hubba!

CONNECTED BOOKS: RAPTURE IN DEATH is the fourth book in the In Death series. While the mystery in the book is self-contained, there are continuing relationship and personal journey stories that span the series and thus I recommend reading the books in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: A Treacherous Curse

Review: A Treacherous CurseA Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell, #3) by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell #3
Published by Berkley on January 16th 2018
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 352
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Very enjoyable entry into the series. The highlights were the Egyptology aspects and the reveal about Stoker’s past. The characters are further developed and their relationship moves forward in small but significant ways.

THE STORY: The utterly unique Veronica Speedwell and Stoker, her partner in museum organization and crime solving, become entwined in the disappearance of Stoker’s former expedition partner and ex-friend. He also happens to be the man who married Stoker’s ex-wife. The man disappeared under suspicious circumstances along with a priceless artifact from an Egyptian expedition but Stoker is a prime suspect. Ancient curses and appearances of the Egyptian god Anubis abound as Veronica and Stoker attempt to locate his ex-partner and clear Stoker’s reputation.

OPINION: Historical mystery and romance, this book continues the series of crimes that butterfly collector Veronica and naturalist Stoker get involved in solving. Here there is a personal aspect as Stoker might become the prime suspect if the disappearance is not solved.

Once again the highlight of this book is the interaction between Veronica and Stoker. While the two are not engaged in a romance in the traditional sense, they are certainly involved in a relationship — it’s just the seriously slow burn type. As the two investigate, the truth about Stoker’s relationship with his ex-wife is revealed.

This series is a fun read as Veronica and Stoker make an unusual couple with lots of witty repartee between them. These are unusual people who obviously fit so well together even as they argue and fight and at times hurt one another. While the series is content with the intensely slow burn of their romance, there is no reason to rush along as these two people develop a partnership, a friendship and a even a “romance” unlike any other they have experienced.

The mystery in this book was intriguing as the story exposes the Egyptian craze of the Victorian era. There are plenty of suspects and motivations for the disappearance and the solution (while not one that is “solvable” by the reader) works as a dramatic story.

I enjoyed this book because of its unique characters and voice. What keeps me coming back to this series, however, is the promise of the relationship between Veronica and Stoker.  And on that this book did not disappoint.

WORTH MENTIONING: Veronica and Stoker are such an amusing pair.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A TREACHEROUS CURSE is the third book in the Veronica Speedwell series. The book has a self-contained mystery and could be read on its own for that reason. However, a big part of the attraction of this series to me is the relationship between Veronica and Stoker and for that reason I recommend reading the books in order as their relationship develops.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Immortal in Death

Review: Immortal in DeathImmortal in Death (In Death, #3) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #3
Published by Berkley Books on July 1st 1996
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 320
Goodreads
five-stars

“Getting married was murder.”

FINAL DECISION: The book is one of the best blend between the personal as Eve tries to exonerate her friend from suspicion of murder and Eve battling her own personal demons. Twisty and personal.

THE STORY: Eve is racing against time as the woman who is her best friend (gosh, that sounds juvenile) is accused of the murder of the ex of her current lover. Eve must find out who killed the famous model.

OPINION: First, to get the mystery out of the way.  This story is compelling because of Eve being driver to solve the crime to save her friend. This is a good one. Plenty of suspects and the ultimate solution worked very well — especially upon re-reading where the clues are obvious. Good pacing and good set up makes this one of the mysteries that I really enjoyed in the series.

But for me, the value of this book is the leap that the relationship between Eve and Roarke takes. As part of Eve’s past is revealed, I loved seeing not only how Eve deals with it, but also the effect it has on Roarke.

“She was, he thought, capable, strong, and resilient. Whatever wounds she had, she would live with. She didn’t need him to heal, but to accept.”

For me, this is what makes this series so effective. Eve is strong and Roarke only helps her be even stronger and more centered. But she is independent and strong on her own. This works so well in the series. This book really begins to delve more deeply into their connection which grows beyond the cop and (former) criminal rich guy trope.

One of the essential books in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Eve and Roarke are planning their wedding and some of Eve’s hidden past is revealed.

CONNECTED BOOKS: IMMORTAL IN DEATH is the third book in the In Death series. While the mystery in this book is completely self-contained, I think the overarching storyline dealing with Eve and Roarke makes these books so I recommend reading the series in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: A Perilous Undertaking

Review: A Perilous UndertakingA Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell, #2) by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell #2
Published by Berkley Books on January 10th 2017
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 338
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Very strong followup to the first book in the series. The integration of the personal relationship and the mystery is better done here and the emotional intensity of the characters’ story is a highlight.

THE STORY: Veronica is asked to prove the innocence of an art patron who is set to hang for the murder of his mistress. But there are a lot of secrets involved in this case. From the identity of the person asking for Veronica’s help to hidden reasons why the condemned won’t defend himself, Veronica and her partner Stoker are steeped in secrets as they race to find the real killer.

OPINION: After the first book in the series, this one feels like it has hit a groove. The combination of the mystery and the relationship between Veronica and Stoker is well balanced and compelling all the way through.

Readers of the first book will recall that Veronica is an independent woman ahead of her time. She is opinionated, has made a career for herself, unapologetically takes foreign lovers, and is sarcastic and at times caustic in her tone. She is also clever and observant and a scientist. Even as Veronica remains true to her character, there is clearly a connection between her and Stoker. And I love the relationship between her and Stoker. There is simmering passion, but also real respect and annoyance with one another that is not based on passion at all.

Here, more is revealed about Stoker’s relationship with his family and Veronica continues to deal with the fallout of her family connection revealed in A CURIOUS BEGINNING. I liked that the mystery was developed throughout the book and at the same time the characters remain the focus of the book.

This book reminds me of the some of the best slow simmering man/woman mystery couples. There is an attraction but also verbal jousting and respect and at times bubbling resentment. These two are not going to quickly indulge in some quick passion because what is between them is too dangerous to treat lightly.

This book is funny and quite enjoyable. I can’t wait for the next in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Opium indulgence results in some interesting advancements.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A PERILOUS UNDERTAKING is the second book in the Veronica Speedwell series. The mystery in this book is completely self-contained and thus the book can be read as a standalone. However, I recommend reading the series in order for the continuing personal storylines.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars