Review: “Innocent in Death,” J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts

Pros: Great suspense and drama
Cons:
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Craig Foster, a well-liked young teacher, is found dead in his classroom, the victim of a horrific poisoning. He’s found by two young students, Melodie and Rayleen. The only smudge in his good life that Eve can find is the fact that he confronted another teacher, Reed Williams, about sexually harassing behavior, and since that didn’t blow up in anyone’s face it seems doubtful that it’s the reason for his death. It’s particularly strange since the method of death involved the poison ricin, not something most people could get their hands on. Still, Williams is the most obvious suspect in the investigation. Just to keep things interesting, an old love of Roarke’s shows up in town, Magdelana, and she seems determined to put the moves on Roarke. Obviously Eve isn’t going to take this lying down!

 

Innocent in Death is book 24 (!) of the “in death” series staring homicide detective Eve Dallas, her fabulously wealthy husband Roarke, and a growing cast of side characters. Most books in the series include some or most of the following:

  • Death, suspense, and mystery
  • Lovely, semi-abstracted sex between Eve and Roarke
  • Mention of Eve’s and/or Roarke’s painful, abusive childhoods–sometimes these get very dark
  • Plenty of snark and entertaining dialogue
  • Character growth for Eve, Roarke, and/or some of the friends and coworkers that surround them

You’ll find all five of those in Innocent in Death. What’s a bit different, however, is the unusual amount of tension between Eve and Roarke. Magdelana (Maggie) is doing everything she can to seduce Roarke and drive Eve away. Our favorite couple can’t see, at first, the ways in which she’s manipulating them, and things between them blow up on a new scale. It’s terrible to see, but it happens on a believable level, especially when you’re talking about two people with such powerful emotions and stubbornness. As a fan of the series, of course, it’s tough to watch them go through it!

As usual the language is florid in an enjoyable way, with larger-than-life personalities and relationships. On the one hand I didn’t find it that hard to guess at who the culprit would be. On the other hand, there was enough uncertainty–and enough red herrings–that I couldn’t really be sure until the ending, which worked out well. As usual, Eve’s attempts to coax out a confession make for a fascinating back-and-forth. I also truly felt for Eve and Roarke as they try to work through Maggie’s attempts to push them apart.

Innocent in Death is a great installment in J.D. Robb’s/Nora Roberts’s “in death” series.

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