2001, Futuristic Romantic Suspense
Berkley, $7.99, 355 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425178579 Part of a series
When I cracked this book I’d only read three of J.D. Robb’s In Death series, not in order (if you care, they were Glory in Death, Immortal in Death, and Conspiracy in Death). In the interests of full disclosure, I should also tell you that I was very skeptical. What with astonishing rate the author has been cranking these babies out, I fully expected to be underwhelmed by her latest, Betrayal in Death. I soon decided that Betrayal is the best of the four I’ve now read.
The In Death books, in case you’re one of the twelve people out there who don’t already know, are police procedurals set in a the near future. They star Eve Dallas, surely one of the most interesting and complex heroines in all of romance fiction. By this twelfth volume, Eve has been married to jillionaire Roarke for about a year, and has more or less become accustomed to it.
Then a chambermaid is raped and murdered in Roarke’s deluxe New York hotel. It quickly becomes clear that the murder, although singularly brutal, was a professional hit, and since no one would pay to murder a nice young girl like Darlene French, it seems that the real motive behind the crime was to upset Roarke. It works.
I liked so many things about this book I don’t know where to start. I enjoyed the gritty violence of it, and the fact that the villain, who we see at work from the very first page, seemed quite believable and genuinely scary. We’ve all read books with unconvincing villains; I found this villain so convincing that I burned through the pages, in suspense about what he was going to do next. Since we know the killer’s identity, the real mystery is “Who was he hired by, and exactly what are they up to?” If you’re like me, you’ll figure that out pretty quickly. If you’re like me, you won’t really mind.
I also enjoyed the appearances of many secondary characters. The relationship between Eve’s fellow cops Delia Peabody and Ian McNab progresses, probably not in the direction you expect. Eve is forced to endure another session with the hysterically dominating beautician Trina. And there’s a riveting sequence of events involving Summerset, Roarke’s butler, that was rendered me speechless with delight. I immediately flipped back a couple chapters and read it over again.
Of course, none of this would be particularly interesting if the dynamic between Eve and Roarke wasn’t right. It’s better than right. Many times before we have seen Roarke, standing by supportively and helping Eve handle the demons of her past. In this book, when Roarke realizes that people are dying because they are employed by him and for no other reason, he loses his cool in a really big way. The sensation of responsibility for the deaths of others forces him to deal with demons of his own. As far as I know, he is more vulnerable in Betrayal than he has ever been in the series before. The scenes in which he turns to Eve for comfort are both extremely sexy and, for those of us who have gotten to know these people, very moving.
Robb has a real talent for showing us how this relationship shifts and grows as circumstances change. I, for one, would have bet money that she couldn’t sustain the chemistry between Roarke and Eve over the course of twelve books. I would have lost that bet.
So Eve and Roarke fans, rejoice. Betrayal in Death is as good as you’ve been hoping it would be. J.D. Robb, also known as Nora Roberts, is the uncontested queen of our Desert Island Keeper page – long may she reign.
-- Jennifer Keirans
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