RogerBW's Blog

Wonderment in Death, J. D. Robb 07 June 2016

2015 SF/mystery novella; fifty-second (roughly) of J. D. Robb's In Death series, published as part of Down the Rabbit Hole, a multi-author anthology of stories loosely inspired by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Apparently Darlene Fitzwilliams fatally stabbed her brother, then jumped off his fifty-second floor balcony. But there's no sign that she was the sort of person who'd do that.

This is another Robb which commits, for me, the cardinal sin of a mystery: removing the mystery. An introductory chapter gives a killer's-eye view and makes it clear exactly what's going on and who's responsible. So again there's no puzzle for the reader to solve; all there is for the mystery fan is observation of the police procedure as the detectives catch up with what the reader's known from the beginning. (If you haven't read this and decide to, please skip chapter one and read it afterwards to fill in any blanks, and let me know how it goes.)

This is only a tiny part of a huge series, and there's no real character development here, but the regulars we meet are true to themselves without being stereotyped (unlike the worn-grey copies of Devoted in Death).

The Alice connection is a little forced, but just about works. The story doesn't really need that connection, though without it it would risk recapitulating the similar plots of Rapture in Death or Delusion in Death, both of which are referenced here.

You could start reading here and not be lost, but you'd be missing most of the good stuff: these characters have been built up over a long time, and much of the fun in this comes from meeting them again.

(I haven't read the rest of the anthology.)

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