Pros: Plenty of character development and serial killer goodness—exactly what fans are looking for
Cons: Not too hard to figure out the bad guy; particularly brutal sexual crimes; I wanted more follow-through on the gifts
Rating: 4 out of 5
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Holiday in Death is the seventh book in Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb’s ‘in death’ series, starring hardass detective Eve Dallas in a futuristic (2050s and 2060s) New York. The series revels in an over-the-top, larger-than-life approach to mystery and detective work. At the same time, it’s every bit as much about its larger-than-life characters, such as Eve, her billionaire mogul former-crook husband Roarke, her wild best friend musician/performer Mavis, her aide Peabody, and a growing cast of equally fascinating characters.
It’s Christmas in New York. Eve is struggling to face the fact that for the first time ever, she has people she cares about—and that means people she needs to shop for. And she hates shopping.
To make things worse, a new serial killer is taking the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song all too personally. His first victim was found wrapped up in a garland and sporting a pin decorated with a partridge in a pear tree, and he seems to be in a hurry to find his other eleven victims. Eve’s still recovering from an injury and shouldn’t even be back at work yet, much less spending 24/7 chasing down a vicious bad guy.
As usual, the financial trail will lead back to Roarke in some manner (he does own half the known universe, after all); Eve will push herself to the brink; and someone Eve loves will be put in grave danger. It may be a formula, but it’s a formula that works well for Roberts and one she knows how to finesse for her fans. The ‘in Death’ novels are decidedly melodramatic and over-the-top, but deliberately so, and they’re the kind of guilty pleasure it’s well worth wallowing in if you enjoy it. It’s been a while since I read book six, but I found that I hit a mood this week where I had to read some Eve Dallas adventures, and when that happens, nothing else will quite do the trick. Roberts has the wisdom to know when it’s time to set aside all the rules about how you “should” write and just write what’s fun!
I do have to warn that the sexual nature of the crimes in Holiday in Death is relatively brutal and not for all readers. It isn’t handled in a prurient manner, however, which I appreciate. It was perhaps a little easier than I’d have liked to figure out who the bad guy was, but since much of the tension in these books is in catching the killer as well as identifying, that isn’t a big deal. I did find that I wanted a little more follow-through on some of the personal tidbits with Eve slowly and painfully figuring out what to get for people; I guess I wanted to see more closure in terms of the actual gift exchanges. Again, however, a tiny niggle.
As usual, the heat between Roarke and Eve is intense and the sexual content is delicious and fun, every bit as enjoyably over-the-top as the detective work. For Peabody fans, the relationship between her and McNab takes its first baby steps forward.