Review: “Concealed in Death,” J.D. Robb

Pros: The usual fun, interesting ride
Cons: One seeming intelligence breakdown; not the best of the series
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Concealed in Death, by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts), is the latest entry in her extensive “in Death” series. Like other recent entries it includes ongoing personal development for Eve and her friends; fiery romance & semi-abstracted sex between Eve and her husband Roarke; references to some particularly dark episodes in both Eve and Roarke’s childhoods (trigger warning for child abuse); and of course the near-future semi-science fictional serial killer/police procedural plot. In this installment, Roarke is ceremoniously demolishing a wall on a property he’s rehabbing for an important personal project when the demolition reveals the remains of murdered young women. He immediately calls in his wife, homicide detective Eve Dallas, who vows to find the killer. But how do you track down a serial killer who seems to have gone dormant for fifteen years?

First off, I think the amount and type of personal material is at a level where you as reader don’t need to be hyper-familiar with the series to enjoy the book. While I am familiar with the series and thus not in the best position to judge this, it’s also the case that I have an infamously bad memory, occasionally miss installments, and get confused very easily. So hopefully I’m right about that.

The personal material is at my favorite sort of level in these books: the by-now-huge cast of supporting characters sees some forward motion, but much of it happens fairly seamlessly within and around the plot. There’s some repetitiveness there, but with a series this big that’s inevitably necessary to keep new readers from feeling lost, and it isn’t at a bad level.

The serial killer/procedural plot is my favorite part of these books, and this is a good-but-not-great entry into the series on that front. It’s unusual for me to feel frustrated with the characters for missing something obvious in this series. However, there is a particular trait Eve starts looking for in her suspects that should have led her to look in certain places well before she did. The twisty-turny ending is interesting, but failed to draw me in as thoroughly as I’m used to in this series. Normally I’m on the edge of my seat for the whodunit, howdunit, how will Eve catch the bad guy, or what happens next, but this felt less… climactic, I guess. In general some of my favorite series traits seemed a little subdued; the banter was good but not as insistently quotable, for instance.

Concealed in Death is a solid mystery and a worthy read, but doesn’t hold up to the best of the series.

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