Desert Isle Keeper Review

Judgment in Death

J.D. Robb
2000, Futuristic Romantic Suspense
Berkley, $7.50, 368 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425176304
Part of a series

Grade: A
Sensuality: Warm

Wow is all I can say! Just when I think J.D. Robb's In Death series can't get any better, I'm proven wrong. This latest installment, Judgment in Death is just as sharp, clever and sexy as it's predecessors. Detective Eve Dallas and husband Roarke, sigh, are still the sexiest and in their own way, cutest couple I know. They're a Nick and Nora Charles for the future - even if Eve is still trying to fight it every step of the way.

When Eve is called to the scene of a murder at the strip club Purgatory, she is shocked to discover that the victim is also a cop. What she doesn't know is what he was doing there. Was he working undercover or just moonlighting? She is less surprised to discover that her husband - who basically owns just about everything anyway - owns the swanky club.

For all intents and purposes Taj Kohli appears to have been a good cop, a straight arrow who loved his family, but as always, there are things brewing just below the surface. The deaths of Taj and another detective bring to light the fact that there are certain cops from that police station on the take. Eve, who knows what a cop earns, knows when something doesn't add up right.

At the heart of the controversy is crime lord Max Ricker. NYSPD had tried to bust Max a few months before but he managed to slip through their fingers despite a pretty solid case. Eve decides to go after Ricker, which does not please Roarke. Roarke, in his younger and less legal days, did business with Ricker and when Roarke ended it, Ricker was livid. Roarke is convinced that Ricker will hurt Eve to get to him and that is exactly what Ricker wants to do.

This is a great source of tension between the couple as pride and protective instincts war with each other. Roarke immediately wants to do away with Ricker but Eve fights him on this. While it's disconcerting to watch them fight - I know they're only characters in books but I feel like I know them personally by now - it's wonderful to watch them work through it. These two are so much in love (which for Eve is an alien feeling), but each is also so very used to being in control that compromise does not come easy.

Through the course of the investigation, Eve realizes that one of her brethern is involved, as is Ricker, but how? And why is Internal Affairs keeping an eye on Eve? The plot has different layers to it, but Robb handles them all with amazing dexterity. You never feel cheated or short-changed with how the plot twists work out. The emotional level of the book is complex and very satisfying. Watching Eve struggle with her feelings, not only for Roarke, but for the other people she cares about in her life is just a privilege for the reader.

Robb also brings back our favorite secondary characters, Peabody, Mavis, Dr. Mira, and McNab. Peabody's relationship with McNab, while one of consternation for her, is very funny to watch. Especially as McNab falls head over heels and Peabody refuses to acknowledge it's any more than sex. We also get people who would cheerfully like to see Eve hung out to dry; Bayliss, the head of Internal Affairs, and Captain Roth, who is the head of Taj Kohli's division.

How far will Eve go to stop a cop killer? For anyone who has read this series, the answer is obvious - as far as she must. If you are a longtime fan of the series or a recent convert, I guarantee this latest installment will not disappoint.

-- Lori-Anne Cohen

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