RogerBW's Blog

Thankless in Death, J. D. Robb 17 January 2014

Thankless in Death is the forty-sixth of J. D. Robb's In Death series. It's also, for me, the first disappointment.

There isn't a great deal of series-level development here. Many of the extended cast come back and do their thing, but we don't meet anyone new who seems likely to return, and nor do any relationships seem to go through major changes. Fair enough, that can't happen every time. Sometimes you just concentrate on the main story.

The main story's decent enough: unfortunately it's not a mystery, as we get a frequent villain's-eye perspective and know exactly whodunnit. That's not a complete show-stopper for me, particularly as the police generally aren't far behind, but I do regard it as an error, since it removes the detection element from the plot; there's also a risk of coming over as wallowing in the villain's gruesomeness.

Our protagonists, Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her richest-man-in-the-world husband Roarke, don't seem to have much spark to them here. Even the obligatory sex scenes seem, well, obligatory. There's a bit of promise as Dallas is offered a captaincy (not surprising, given her record) and turns it down to stay in the field, but that's really the only solid element here. The rest, I'm afraid, is strictly for series fans. As with Notorious Nineteen, the ongoing character bits feel as though they could have been composed with a macro: Dallas doesn't want to hear about her underling's love life, the coroner's playing suitable music when doing an autopsy, Dallas is hiding food from the office food thief.

If as I had you've read the first forty-five, you can get through this one on inertia, but I can't see it hooking in very many new readers. I really hope the next one is better; I think Robb has more to say about these characters, but here she's just marking time.

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See also:
Notorious Nineteen, Janet Evanovich

Series: In Death | Next in series: Mirror, Mirror

  1. Posted by Michael Cule at 06:27pm on 17 January 2014

    I have the same unaccountable fondness for them as you have. I've even written fanfic!

    I have been skipping the 'obligatory sex scene' for some time: they seem to be mechanical catering to the readers who want the romance issues.

    I don't mind the 'police procedural' nature of the latest one but I've always felt that they were pretty terrible detective stories and even worse SF. Her idea of how quickly mankind could spread to 'off world' colonies is ridiculous and she doesn't think about the implications of the tech she introduces at all.

    But the characters are fun and the dialogue manages to make me turn the page. I wonder though if she has a definite schedule to bring it to an end, which will be (she has announced) with the birth of Dallas and Roarke's first child.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 06:34pm on 17 January 2014

    Yes, the tech projections are a bit strange, and Robb's clearly not an SF writer really; I'm not at all convinced she realises that there's a difference between things in the solar system and things going round other stars. (But neither did Terry Nation in the 1960s, and look where it got him.) I'm reading these books for character first, for decent puzzle second, and this one seemed to lack both.

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