RogerBW's Blog

Apprentice in Death, J. D. Robb 30 September 2017

2016 SF/mystery; fifty-fourth (roughly) of J. D. Robb's In Death series. A sniper is shooting people in New York – at random, or with specific targets in mind? Lieutenant Eve Dallas investigates.

Let's get the major problem out of the way first: Robb has clearly never felt comfortable with the science-fiction content of these books (though when it's a major plot element it's sometimes handled very well), and here the murder weapon is a "laser rifle" which:

Strike from one of these from a distance of—say a mile? It takes two and a half seconds to go from weapon to target.

Photons go at less than Mach 2. Who knew?

But really that's not important to the plot, and some basic editing could have fixed it. This is a story about a really expert sniper who's turned serial killer, and how they got to where they are; the SF components are incidental.

It's more police-procedural action than mystery; there's some detective work at first, but the prime suspects are quickly identified (it's not as though there are many expert snipers about) and then it's a matter of tracking them down and catching them before more people get shot.

Although Dallas would probably hate to think it, one of the impressions that comes over most strongly is that she's a good coordinator: she allocates her own detectives, other police resources, and her powerful friends who want to help, so that they do the things they're most useful at and get the case cracked quickly.

There are some scenes from the killer's perspective, but not many, and they don't give away major plot points. Many of the series regular characters show up, but apart from Eve's husband Roarke they have relatively small parts; this is a story that stays focussed on the protagonist.

There's nothing particularly surprising here. The recurring characters stay in character. The criminal is caught. Eve is always right (at least about police work). I don't find these books formulaic, though; there is a strong element of predictability in them, but this far into a series that's hard to avoid.

I'm still enjoying these books, even if I tend to forget about them for a year and then discover two more have come out. Whoops, three. Followed by Echoes in Death.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Previous in series: Brotherhood in Death | Series: In Death | Next in series: Echoes in Death

  1. Posted by Michael Cule at 07:50pm on 30 September 2017

    I thought "fifty-fourth"? That can't be right surely.

    And I went and looked and it said forty-third. And I don't think they're including all the short stories in that.

    Oh, good grief she does churn them out.

    I wonder sometimes why she made these SF in the first place. She doesn't use SF tropes often and she never uses them well.

    Did she just feel that a woman leading a NY homicide squad while married to a fabulously wealthy Irish ex-criminal wouldn't work as a contemporary setting? I dunno. She puts some future changes into the legal system into play but it's never made clear exactly what they are.

    Did she just look at SF and decide that was something she could do that might spice it up a bit?

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 10:20pm on 30 September 2017

    Yeah, I think I may be including some of the shorter material in that count.

    To be fair I think that Origin in Death (the Icove case) used its SF content pretty well. That may have been Robb deciding she was out of her depth and getting knowledgeable advice, of course. But most of the stories would work as contemporary, or at least a more plausible near-future, without the hover-cars and off-world prisons.

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.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 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