1997, Futuristic Romantic Suspense
Berkley, $7.99, 357 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425160394 Part of a series
I recently noticed that Vengance in Death has never been reviewed. How could this be? Since in my very humble opinion it is the best book in J.D. Robb’s In Death series so far, I decided it was time to remedy this omission.
The story opens with Lieutenant Eve Dallas receiving a call from a madman who believes he is doing the work of the Lord. His riddles eventually lead Eve to the mutilated bodies of two Irishmen, one rich and one poor. They had two things in common: both had known Eve’s husband, Roarke, in his younger days in Ireland; and both had given Roarke information that he used to avenge the rape and murder of the daughter of Summerset, who is currently his butler.
Soon Eve is in a race against time to prevent the madman from murdering again and to keep him from his final target, Roarke.
Things become more complicated for Eve because she must walk a fine line between duty to the law and shielding the man she loves. There is no statute of limitations on murder, and it appears the villain is avenging the death of a man Roarke had murdered out of revenge. For someone who finds trusting people nearly impossible, Eve is forced to take into her confidence several people around her. It’s one thing to trust people when it comes to herself; it’s quite another matter when her husband’s freedom and life are on the line.
Even though, as always, Eve is the lead, this is Roarke’s story. The reader is given a view into his past, especially when he takes Eve back to Ireland. We learn about his first girlfriend, his boyhood haunts, and catch a glimpse of the violence that lurks just beneath his civilized veneer. Like his wife, Roarke is pulled in two directions by this case when Summerset is framed. Does he trust the woman he loves to find the truth or does he protect the man he loves like a father? His ego takes a blow as well when he has to let his wife stand between him and the murderer.
Amongst all this turmoil, Robb seamlessly melds old friends from previous stories with some intriguing new ones. Ian McNab is a bright young detective and computer whiz who may have questionable taste in fashion, but when it comes to straight-laced Delia Peabody, he knows a dish when he sees one. It is the continuity that these secondary characters bring to the series that help to make it so enjoyable.
Vengance in Death is not for the weak of heart - or stomach. It explores the grey area that exists between vengeance and justice. Many may not like to acknowledge that the hero has committed cold-blooded murder when taking the law into his own hands, but the fact that Robb has never toned Roarke’s past down to make him more politically correct is part of what makes his character so fascinating. Nor does she shy away from the horror and brutality of murder.
As always, fans of the In Death series will be thrilled to see the subtle changes and developments in the relationship between Eve and Roarke that keeps us coming back for more.
-- Jennifer Schendel
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