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

Pros: Good serial killer tale in a delightful series world
Cons: Not Robb’s best
Rating: 4 out of 5

J.D. Robb’s latest, Vendetta in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel (In Death, Book 49), is a solidly good–but not top–entry into the series. Nigel B. McEnroy is a serial rapist. He has drugged, assaulted, and blackmailed many women. But now one plans to end his reign of terror–with a vengeance. The man is kidnapped, tortured, and killed, then dumped for the police to find with a note signed by “Lady Justice”. Next is a man named Thaddeus Pettigrew, who cheated on his wife, left her for a younger woman, and stiffed her out of the value of her own company. Nigel and Thaddeus won’t be the last targets on this serial killer’s list–she’s just getting started. Eve believes in her own kind of justice, one that involves a trial and jail time, and as much as she despises McEnroy, she has to do what she can to find justice for him, and to stop the killer from striking again. The kills are coming so closely together, and so clearly escalating, that things are clearly going to get bad.

Obviously, I’m including a content note for rape, blood, and torture. It’s at roughly the same level as many of the other books in the series, so if you’ve liked the books so far, there’s little reason why you’d stop now.

It’s a plot-heavy entry into the series, rather than the occasional world- and character-heavy volumes. We do get to see Mavis in this briefly and of course Roarke comes along to help out Eve. We get the usual nods to series regulars such as Nadine and Jake, and Eve narrowly avoids doing some socializing. Unsurprisingly, more and more of the people Eve has to interview recognize her and Peabody from Nadine’s book and movie. Sometimes this helps, and sometimes it hinders, but Eve is starting to learn to cope with it. In this volume, Eve gets to meet a movie legend. Even though Eve has no idea who she is, Peabody is star-struck!

I wish I had a better idea of how droids are supposed to act and function in this world. It has never really come together for me. In this volume, we quickly see that part of the reason one woman can deal with manhandling large guys is because she has a droid drive the car and string up the victims. But in all of Eve’s speculations, she and her colleagues keep coming back to the idea that the culprit must have an ally, if just to have someone driving the car. It never seems to occur to them that a droid could operate a car, but it’s also never mentioned that they generally can’t, so wouldn’t Eve have thought of that?

The text isn’t quite as gloriously quotable as my favorite entries in the series. Also, Eve’s argument-with-the-perp dream is unnecessary; we already know why she disagrees with the killer’s sense of “justice”.

Somehow Eve always leaves me wanting pizza! Good thing I have all the ingredients necessary in the apartment. I definitely enjoyed this book; it isn’t a perfect In Death novel, but it’s solidly good!

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