Desert Isle Keeper Review

Holiday In Death

J.D. Robb
1998, Futuristic Romantic Suspense
Berkley, $7.99, 326 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425163717
Part of a series

Grade: A
Sensuality: Hot

Well, they've all been good, but this, the seventh installment of Nora Roberts' In Death series, is right up there with the first. It's hot, it's cool, it rocks, it's mag. If you're a fan of the series, this is an automatic buy for you. If you're toying with the idea of giving these books a try, you might first want to read the initial two in the series (Naked In Death and Glory In Death), before reading this one, just to give yourself an idea of who these characters are, and how they interrelate.

It's Christmas in New York, 2058, and newlywed Lt. Eve Dallas, homicide detective par excellence, hasn't a clue how to go about shopping for her husband, multi-bazillionaire, Roarke. While Eve works to track down a gift for her man, somebody out there is approaching the holidays from a different angle entirely, offing some very nice people in a very disturbing way.

Posing as Santa, he is welcomed with smiles into each victim's apartment - who would close the door on Santa? However, once inside, he tranqs, binds, violates, then murders his victims. The killer has a plan, a timetable, and a theme to his crimes. He tattoos each body with the words: My True Love and leaves a holiday memento as well. The first victim is adorned with a hair ornament - a partridge in a pear tree; the second - two turtle doves; the third, well, you know the song.

The connection between the killings seems to be a dating service called Personally Yours, owned and operated by a set of very, very close fraternal twins, Piper and Rudy Hoffman. Given her own horrific past, filled with childhood memories of being raped by her father, Eve is disturbed by the obviously incestuous relationship between the twins, and begins to suspect controlling Rudy may be the killer. As with the rest of the series, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who the killer is, but the mystery element is really secondary to the action and romance of these stories.

I love Eve. She's tough, intelligent, compassionate, caring, has a wonderfully dry wit, and is terrified of loving her husband as desperately as she does. She doesn't understand love, where it comes from, where it's going, she only knows she loves Roarke, and is willing trust him with her very fragile heart. Roarke. Ah, Roarke. Tall, incredibly handsome, rough and smooth all at the same time, he's smart, and sexy, and rich, and he's absolutely crazy about Eve. It feels so good to watch Roarke be in love with his wife. He knows her hurts, and admires her for being who she is in spite of the things that have happened to her. These two are such a perfect match, you know they're in it 'til forever.

A stand-out performance by Officer Delia Peabody combined with the sexual tension that sings between her and smart-ass detective McNab, plus the other regulars, will keep you interested in this fast-paced, emotional, intense look at love, the holidays, murder, and lunacy - it's up to you to figure out which-is-which. Something else I like about this series, Roberts has not made her victims just, well, victims. She gives them lives and personalities, family, friends, loved ones, so that, when Eve has to break the news to the first victim's fiancÚ, it's heart-wrenching to watch. Anyone who has suddenly, unexpectedly lost a loved one will really feel the pain and confusion. It's the survivor's lament: "But how can she be dead, I just saw her yesterday?" Anguish. Roberts captures everything here.

These books are graphic in their violence and intense in their sexual force. I always have to read something light and frothy after I finish an In Death book, but I'm always ready for the next one when the time comes.

Next in the series is an anthology, Silent Night, due out November, 1998, which will feature Eve and Roarke in Midnight in Death. I'm going to read it, because I really want to know how Roarke liked his Christmas present. Conspiracy In Death, is due out in April, 1999.

-- Marianne Stillings

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