2008, Futuristic Romantic Suspense
Putnam, $25.95, 356 pages, Amazon ASIN 0399154701 Part of a series
Though I’m a relatively recent fan of the In Death series, I’ve glommed it twice in the past 18 months since first picking up Naked in Death. It continues to astound me how J.D. Robb has managed to keep this series going for more than two dozen novels (and a few short stories), but Strangers in Death is another great book in this masterful series.
The story opens with Lieutenant Eve Dallas at the scene of the murder of a prominent businessman found dead in his bed, the victim of an apparent asphyxiation in the midst of a kinky bondage sexual encounter. However, things don’t add up: Family and friends vehemently deny any infidelity - and his wife was in St. Lucia at the time the man died.
Eve is certain that the widow is guilty, despite her alibi. She, along with Peabody, McNab, Feeney, Baxter, Trueheart, and, of course, Roarke, pick away at the case and try to pin her down. In the meantime, Baxter and Trueheart are working a cold case on their own: The murder and castration of a cheating, abusive husband.
This installment has a good balance of crime-solving and Eve/Roarke scenes. There are some really sweet moments between the two of them, even though the plot is mystery-based. Eve brings him on as Expert Civilian Consultant right away, showing that she’s becoming accustomed to his involvement in her work, though the two face some issues regarding money in the course of this book.
I thought the mystery portion of this story was also good. Anyone who is familiar with Anton Chekhov’s famous playwriting advice, “If the writer puts a gun over the fireplace in the first act, the gun must be fired before the play is over” - or anyone who picks up on clues and foreshadowing - will foresee a connection between the two cases. Still, the connection itself surprised me. Eve’s solving of the case is also logically done. One of the weaknesses of this series is that, in her incredible skill as a detective, she sometimes solves the crimes with a leap of logic readers are unable to make. Not so in this book.
In addition to the main story line, there is a wonderful development in the relationship between our favorite MD and LC. However, one of my (very few) disappointments with this book is that after their big scene, Louise and Charles disappear. The other minor issues I had related to the fact that we just didn’t get enough of some of the minor characters, including McNab, Mira, Summerset, and the Commander. Everyone we’ve grown to love and care for are there, just perhaps not in the quantity of previous installments.
All in all, this is another great book in an incredible series. I know there have been some rumblings about the series beginning to slow down with the recent books, but Strangers in Death shows that Robb is still going strong.
-- Jane Granville
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