Pros: Fun setting; interesting mystery; post-marriage character development
Cons: Not the best of Robb/Roberts’s mysteries
Rating: 4 out of 5
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Rapture in Death is the fourth book in Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb’s ‘in death’ series, starring hardass detective Eve Dallas in a futuristic (2050s and 2060s) New York. After initially reading one of the later books I started borrowing the earlier ones from a generous friend, and occasionally read one as an enjoyable pause in my devouring of review copies. The series tends toward a certain over-the-top, larger-than-life approach to romance, mystery, detective work, and so on. It revels in it, milking it for all the fun it can. At the same time, however, the series is every bit as much about its larger-than-life characters, such as Eve, her billionaire mogul husband Roarke, her best friend Mavis, her aide Peabody, and a slowly growing cast of equally fascinating characters.
Eve and Roarke, newly married, are finishing up their honeymoon aboard Roarke’s unfinished off-world Olympus Resort. As inevitably happens in Eve’s world, death intervenes in their wedded bliss. It seems that one of the whiz-kid technicians living and working at the station got home from his shift, relaxed with a bit of virtual reality, and hung himself from the chandelier with a happy grin on his face. And when Eve gets home, she ends up faced with several more happy ‘self-terminations,’ and brain scans that show tiny burns inside their brains.
In the meantime, Mavis has caught the eye of a famous recording artist, who’s recording a demo with her. He wants to use Mavis’s connection to Eve and Roarke to reach the ears of the wealthy and famous. His special music rig has a few homemade modifications, however, and it’s having quite the effect on the group of friends—particularly the happy newlyweds.
For those readers hooked on Robb’s characters, Rapture in Death is a great contribution to the series. It focuses heavily on the just-post-marriage relationship of Eve and Roarke, especially Eve’s struggle to come to terms with the strength of her feelings for Roarke (and his for her). It also includes some interesting developments in Mavis’s career as a performer.
The mystery is interesting, but not quite up to the level of some of the other books in the series. It’s pretty easy to see which possible bad guy is the red herring and which isn’t, and the red herring gets drawn out a bit long in my opinion.
Since we’re on the fourth book of the series, it can start to feel a little bit unlikely that so many of Eve’s cases have ended up tied to people she knows so well. On the other hand, Robb knows her audience: people follow these books for the larger-than-life character drama as well as the mystery, and the way to do that is to give Eve a personal stake in her cases. So while the practical part of me balks a little at the coincidences, I have to admit that it’s a very effective way to draw her particular audience in.
All in all, while this isn’t my favorite book of the series, I definitely enjoyed reading it. As always, there’s some hot & heavy sex between our favorite billionaire and cop, so this one’s for adults only!