Memory in Death

J.D. Robb
January 2006, Futuristic Romantic Suspense
Putnam, $24.95, 352 pages, Amazon ASIN 0399153284
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Warm

2005 will forever be the Year of the J.D. Robb Glom for me. I read Naked in Death in March and have since read all of the 23 books and two anthology contributions which comprise the series - and loved, to varying degrees, them all. Yes, I am firmly planted on the In Death Bandwagon. And so must you be, if you are reading this review of Memory in Death.

This time around someone from Eve Dallas' past appears to shake things up. When Eve was released from the hospital in Dallas, where she had been found at eight years of age, beaten, bloody and with no memory, she was given into Trudy Lombard's foster care. Trudy should never have been allowed to be a foster mother. While not really physically abusive, Trudy, a nasty, nasty woman, was verbally and emotionally abusive, and Eve ran away for good after six months. When Trudy shows up one day in Eve's office, Eve is plummeted back to that time, the time when she was a scared, frightened child, and not the successful New York City police lieutenant she has made herself.

Kicked out of Eve's office, Trudy next shows up at husband Roarke's office to extort two million dollars, or, she says, Eve's history and child services records may just wind up in the hands of the media. In a great scene, Roarke, gorgeous, dangerous, mega-gazillionaire, gleefully scares the crap out of Trudy. And when he smiles and says to her, "Run," she high-tails it out of there. Very satisfying.

When Eve and Roarke go to Trudy's hotel room to confront her and provide Eve with some closure, they find her dead, beaten to death. Thankfully, they have an alibi for the time of death, but surely Eve was not the only victim of Trudy's "hospitality," and Eve makes sure she is assigned to the case.

The mystery of "whodunit" is not terribly compelling or difficult to solve - I had it figured out fairly early and was pleased with myself for picking up on a couple of clues that Eve had missed. But, In Death fans do not read this series solely for the mystery. So how was it otherwise? Pretty darned good.

It is Christmastime and Eve does some - well, she doesn't shop, she "comes across things," much to her detective partner Delia Peabody's disgust. The stress of the case and the holidays have both Eve and Peabody fighting with their respective domestic partners, but great makeup sex ensues, so it all works out. There is, in fact, plenty of Peabody action in this book; she is primary on a case and she testifies at a trial stemming from the attack on her in Visions in Death. There is a new skirmish in the Candy Thief Wars, and a touching scene between Eve and Mr. Dr. Mira, on whom she has a crush. Don't we all?

I'd like to mention two things that I really appreciate about this series, that I don't believe any other review has touched upon. Robb always makes the murder victim and their family into real people. In this case, the victim is someone who gets zero sympathy, but you can't help but feel for Trudy's son Bobby, who would sneak food to Eve when she was punished as a child. Robb writes grief and the bewilderment that so often accompanies it so very well.

Another aspect of these books that I love is the humor. Eve, tortured, tormented soul that she is, is also a stitch whose curmudgeonly outlook always makes me laugh. Some of my favorite moments this time:

  • Eve, thinking of her husband: "He'd probably been in one of his hundreds of weekly meetings, making plans to buy a freaking solar system."
  • Trying to identify the weather Roarke says, "It's not snow, not rain, not even really sleet. It must be--"
    "Crap," she said. "It's cold, wet, crap."
  • Peabody has been buying Christmas presents for the very pregnant Mavis's baby, and Eve thinks to herself, "What the hell did you buy for a fetus anyway? And why did nobody else think that was kind of creepy?"

But the overall theme of this book is Home, as Eve ponders her past home life and her present. What is home? What makes a home? And, more importantly, who makes a home? She has truly become comfortable and appreciative of her physical and emotional home with Roarke. It is nice, after seeing Eve struggle with her demons for so long, to see her, even temporarily, content and at home.

-- Cheryl Sneed

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