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

Pros: Fascinating plot, fun dialogue, and great characters
Cons: Too many coincidental ties; too much angst and introspection
Rating: 3 out of 5

 

Eve has to face the worst: not only was a cop killed in her city, but it was her friend Morris’s lady love. Who would want to kill Detective Amaryllis Coltraine? She was a solid, by-the-books cop, but she didn’t handle big cases. She didn’t live the job the way Eve does. Nearly everyone liked her, even her snitches. Eve simply can’t find anyone who’d want revenge. She’s going to have to, though, because it looks like that person might target her next—and because she’d do anything to get justice for Morris.


 

Promises in Death is not my favorite of the in death series by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts). Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot that’s good about it. The characters, as usual, are fantastic. The dialogue sparkles. The mystery certainly held my interest right through the end of the book.

Throughout the series, Eve and Roarke tend to find that they have an improbable number of personal connections to her cases. In this kind of fantasy world that’s relatively easy to hand-wave away, particularly since Eve is a very well-known cop, and Roarke is fabulously wealthy. It makes a certain amount of sense that they’d have ties to all sorts of people and activities. However, this went overboard in Promises. There are past ties between Roarke and Eve’s fathers that go back well before Eve and Roarke ever met. There are ties between those men and other people within her friends’ pasts. Even for a world that’s clearly fantastical in nature, it beggars belief to see such an interconnected web of intrigue.

Another constant of the series is Eve and Roarke’s struggle to handle their respective dark pasts, which often come up in comparison to the experiences and actions of the people they’re chasing. A certain amount of this is natural; those pasts shaped them as people. Also, since the books are somewhat separate, making it fairly easy to pick them up out of order, it helps to provide background on the characters. This time, however, I couldn’t help feeling that it dragged on too long.

The usual fun elements of the series did help to overcome these negatives. Despite the somewhat more somber tone of this installment, Eve still gets to have some of her signature hilarious curmudgeonly rants. And thanks to a bridal shower she has to help out with, we get to enjoy the presence of her entertaining friends (a beautiful study in Robb’s ability to create a wide spread of highly individualistic characters) and watch Eve try to cope with a very girly situation (which is always fun!).

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