RogerBW's Blog

Devoted in Death, J. D. Robb 29 April 2016

2015 SF/mystery; fifty-first (roughly) of J. D. Robb's In Death series. Two serial killers have crossed the USA and landed in New York; Lieutenant Eve Dallas tracks them down.

Unfortunately there's no mystery for the reader, because an initial chapter tells us who the killers are and what their motivation is, and occasional cutaways show us the terror of their victims. It's something Robb's occasionally done before, and for me it defuses the sense of exploration and puzzle-solving that's an important part of the reason why I read mystery stories. Dallas spends most of the story catching the protagonists' knowledge up to the point where the reader started, and I think that if the first chapter (as well as the cutaways) had simply been dropped this might have worked rather better.

What's worse, this often feels by-the-numbers. Ho hum, Eve doesn't understand time zones. Tee hee, those people living in the Midwest sure aren't like normal New York City types. Hey ho, the characters are wheeled out to do the standard things they do. Editing is lacking too; a recording medium used multiple times is "overridden" rather than "overwritten". A ploy used by Ted Bundy is attributed to Jeffrey Dahmer.

The actual investigation isn't too bad, but at this point in the series I'm reading for the people rather than for the police work, and they're faded copies. The dialogue feels recycled. The brief scenes of the victims come over as torture porn.

This is, frankly, what I'd expect book number 51 in a series to look like, but usually Robb does much better.

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