RogerBW's Blog

Faithless in Death, J. D. Robb 22 March 2021

2021 SF/mystery; sixty-third story or 52nd novel of J. D. Robb's In Death series (SF police procedurals). A sculptor is killed in her studio; it looks as though her lover did it. But there's more to be found behind the obvious case.

Indeed, just as I was feeling encouraged by the way that (as in previous books in the series) nobody raises an eyebrow that the lover was also female, it turned out that this one was going to be about a cult that cares deeply about such things. Which of course is a tricky path for Robb to take: some significant fraction of the romance readers in America (even of the naughty romances that have sex scenes rather than the hero finding God) would be entirely happy in a mindset that says only heterosexuality is allowed, white is best, no hankypanky outside marriage, and women are there to serve men rather than have lives of their own.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, this particular cult turns out to be a Church of No Redeeming Virtues, of the rapey subtype: vg'f orra xvqanccvat naq qehttvat jbzra (bs gur evtug rguavpvgl, bs pbhefr) gb or "oevqrf" sbe vgf znyr zrzoref, vg'f unccl gb pbire hc n zheqre ol qbzrfgvp ivbyrapr, and so on. It all comes over as a bit heavy-handed and evil-for-the-sake-of-it at times, which is a shame when much of what's going on flows naturally from the personalities of the people in charge; more to the point, if all these insiders are ready to flip and try to get out of the cult the moment Dallas gives them a reason to, why hasn't there been a reason for them to flip before?

It's more of a conventional police story than the previous book, though at the same time there's little mystery about what's going on; it's just a matter of proving it. Roarke is rather in the background, but I like the way he's grown up a bit from the more demanding figure of the early books. (Though there is a bit of a dropped thread: he asks several times "please let me know before you do X", Eve agrees, but she then does X without telling him and it's never mentioned again.)

Still, this is a series book that, as usual for Robb, doesn't feel like a series book; it has its own distinctive elements and place in the overall story.

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Previous in series: Shadows in Death | Series: In Death | Next in series: Forgotten in Death

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