RogerBW's Blog

Obsession in Death, J. D. Robb 26 March 2015

2015 SF/mystery; fiftieth (roughly) of J. D. Robb's In Death series. At the end of 2060, Homicide Lieutenant Eve Dallas comes up against a new threat: a murderer who's such a fan that he's killing people who've offended Dallas. And there are a lot of them.

With all the side stories and novellas, this is somewhere between fortieth (official) and fiftieth (Wikipedia) story in this world. It doesn't feel like a deliberate retrospective, but it's certainly carrying the weight of the series' history. There are plenty of references to earlier cases, not just the big public ones like the Icove killings (Origin in Death); the first victim is a lawyer from Rapture in Death, and the second is a minor character from Conspiracy in Death. It's not necessary to retain all the earlier books in memory to appreciate what's going on, but it's pleasing to see Robb taking advantage of the depth of background that's built up (she's been writing these things for twenty years now) even at the risk of losing new readers. The wealth of potential victims, of people who've offended Dallas in some way but not actually been arrested or imprisoned, is an active hindrance to the investigation.

That said, the mystery side isn't all that compelling as a puzzle: it's a gradual tightening of data search parameters as more is learned about the murderer from minor traces left at the killings, rather than a challenge to the reader to sort out evidence and decide which background character must have been responsible. Unlike the victims, the murderer isn't someone we've ever met before.

What is more interesting is the gradual, if predictable, progression of the villain from Dallas's "true friend", killing the scum of society that a cop like Dallas is prevented from dispatching in person, into someone who wants to kill Dallas' other friends and even Dallas herself. I'm not generally a fan of the villain's-eye viewpoint, but here it's done quite effectively, not giving too much away about what's going on.

I suspect Robb is having something of a private joke too: to try to work out who the killer might be, Eve has to go through her fan mail (she's reasonably famous in her own right as well as being married to the richest man in the world), and some of the examples seem as though they might be just the sort of thing that gets sent to a romance writer.

"And I got seventy-eight requests for sex, ninety-three if you count the ones who had sex with me in their dreams or in another dimension, and nine marriage proposals."

"Having sex with someone who's not me in an alternate dimension is grounds for divorce."

"In one case we were dragons. Golden dragons who had sex in mid-flight over a sea the color of port wine."

For a stand-alone novel, this wouldn't be a bad book at all. As the fortieth in a series, it's quite remarkably fresh. All the usual elements and secondary characters are here, but they manage still to seem like real people, not just cardboard figures in the Obligatory Morgue Scene.

While I wouldn't recommend that the new reader start here, there's nothing too challenging if you do: the New York of 2060 may have all sorts of strange tech, but cops are still cops, murderers are still murderers, and you can probably work out roughly what a stunner is for.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio tech base commerce battletech beer boardgaming bookmonth chain of command children chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 existential risk falklands war fandom fantasy film firefly first world war flash point food garmin drive gazebo geodata gurps gurps 101 harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life kickstarter learn to play leaving earth linux mecha museum mystery naval non-fiction one for the brow opera perl photography podcast politics powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha quantum rail ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1