"Indulgence in Death," J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts

Pros: Dialogue and narrative are in snarky rare form! Great characters & fun plot
Cons: Could use a little less of the now-repetitive introspection
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Top New York murder cop Eve Dallas is taking a vacation. That’s right, an actual vacation. It’s the anniversary of her marriage to beyond-wealthy businessman Roarke, and they’re off to spend some time with the family he’s recently rediscovered in Ireland. Of course while she’s there she stumbles across a dead body—murdered, naturally—with her usual knack for trouble. The only strange part is that this becomes a mere footnote to her vacation as she helps the locals wrap up the case and heads back home—-where, naturally, a particularly bizarre case almost immediately comes to her attention. In the era of 2060, who the Hell would shoot a limo driver through the back of the neck with a crossbow? And why?

Unfortunately, the limo driver is hardly the last body to crop up. Each kill is odder than the last, each victim extremely successful and remarkably free of known enemies. Each one emerged from humble beginnings to reach the top of his or her field. Each one is killed with consummate skill and a highly unusual weapon. It almost seems worse when Eve figures out who must be doing it—because they clearly believe they can get away with it, they’re doing it almost entirely for the thrills, and they’ve neatly pulled her into their game before she’s even realized it. Now she has to race to figure out how to pin things down before another body is found—possibly her own.


 

Yes, the narrative is over-the-top; it’s a deliberate style choice that beautifully suits the over-the-top SF/detective/romance combo. If you’re familiar with any of the other J.D. Robb books, this won’t be an issue for you. For those of us who really enjoy this style choice, Indulgence in Death is one of J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts’s best yet. She’s in rare form, with plenty of highly entertaining rants, beautifully in-character attitude, and quotable dialogue and thoughts. I’m sure I drove my friends nuts quoting hilarious piece-parts at them (although they did seem to appreciate the humor). I’d quote some here, but I’d be lost as to how to pick just one small piece from the many! Besides, one of the things that makes it particularly good is Robb’s ability to give us the long-term payoff. A character will get into a musing or rant on a hilarious topic (just wait until Eve goes off on the stupidity of suits, ties, and high-heeled shoes), only to have a line that hearkens back to it show up later on in an even more entertaining context.

The characters are fantastic. Eve is such a delightful curmudgeon, perfect for those of us who don’t particularly care about things like high-heeled shoes, while her stylish husband and somewhat more girly compatriots provide plenty of material for those who want to revel in the luxury and style of the ultra-rich. Robb provides a perfect view of a futuristic further-widened class divide, and accents it with a light scattering of fun science-fantasy trappings.

As usual, the case becomes improbably personal for Eve and Roarke (well, improbable after this many books with similar elements to them). However, it’s one of those things that works well for the series despite that. It’s a formula that delights fans, so why mess with it? Besides, Eve’s reputation and Roarke’s wealth give at least that minimal nod to establishing a reason for them to be drawn into everything. My one semi-complaint is that I could do with a little less of the introspection on Eve and Roarke’s inner turmoils after all these books, but on the other hand, I can see why it would be useful to have it for readers just tuning in (because let’s face it, plenty of people won’t want to go back and read the whole series). While of course it helps to have followed along with the series in order to keep up with all of the characters and their arcs, Robb does a surprisingly good job of providing at least a minimal explanation of where each one is in the current events, so you really don’t need to read all of the books in order.

In all, this is a delightful installment in the “in death” series, one that fans won’t want to miss!

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