RogerBW's Blog

Secrets in Death, J. D. Robb 10 March 2018

2017 SF/mystery; fifty-sixth (roughly, or 45th novel) of J. D. Robb's In Death series. Homicide Lieutenant Eve Dallas is out with a colleague when another patron of the bar is cut and bleeds to death in front of her. She may not have much time for gossip journalists, but solving murders is still her job.

This is something of a change of pace for the series; recent books have tended to feature serial killers, with a new body turning up every few chapters to emphasise time pressure. Here that doesn't happen, since it looks as if the killing may have been a one-off; so to keep the tension going we get rather more of Eve Dallas and her thoughts about the nature of the job, and how even horrible blackmailers deserve not to be murdered. (Imprisoned, maybe.)

So basically it's a police procedural, with various bits to remind the reader that all those long-term characters are still out there. This time it's Nadine Furst who gets her turn for a reasonably large role. Even the victim is someone who showed up in a bit-part in an earlier book.

The relationship between Eve and her richest-man-in-the-world husband Roarke is solid here – well, it's been dozens of books since they got married, they're still very much in love, and they continue to get to know each other better. There's a minor hiccup and they get over it, the way grown-ups do, rather than turning it into huge drama.

The actual murder plot is pretty straightforward. There's an obvious suspect, but very little in the way of evidence: the gradual reconstruction of the victim's background is secondary to the interviews with her various blackmail victims (with a strong suggestion that she had a knack for picking people who wouldn't go to the police – which is a bit of a cheat, but necessary for her career to have gone on for as long as it has).

It doesn't leap out as something amazing and different, but this is forty-plus books into the series, and I suspect that most people who've stuck with it this long don't want amazing and different; this is more like an episode of a long-running soap opera or drama show, where some of the pleasure comes from familiar characters doing familiar things.

Followed by Dark in Death.

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  1. Posted by Michael Cule at 02:45pm on 10 March 2018

    She's certainly taking her time about progressing Eve Dallas towards what has been announced as the end point of the series: her giving birth to her first child.

    She has to get over her personal 'ickyness' at the idea of children first...

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