"Calculated in Death," J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts)

Pros: Fun tale with some intriguing twists, enjoyable turns, and interesting characters
Cons: The “impulsive” bad guy was a little too predictable at the end
Rating: 4 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group


Eve has a difficult new case to crack. It isn’t particularly gruesome, but the victim was a mother, a wife, sister-in-law to a judge, and much beloved by those around her. For once, Eve can’t find any hidden enemies, resentful spouses. Yet everything indicates that this woman was specifically targeted, and her death wasn’t the mugging-gone-wrong it was supposed to look like. Investigating the murder takes Eve deep into the confusing world of accounting, investing, and big business, where she’s sure to anger some very wealthy, very well-connected players.


The premiere of the movie dramatization of one of Eve’s old cases is coming up fast, and Eve is trying desperately to find a way to duck out of the unwanted glitz and glamour. Usually she gets out of such things by running off to deal with a murder investigation. This time she’s going to have to get much more creative. As usual, J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) deftly interleaves Eve’s disdain of glamor, the wish-fulfillment trappings of the world she now lives in thanks to her uber-wealthy husband, and the excitement those around her enjoy on her behalf. Thus providing a little bit for everyone: the snark and irritation for those readers who hate high heels and impractical dresses, and the glamorous dress-up for those readers who love it all. This is one of those hallmarks of the “in death” series that truly impresses me.

Calculated in Death sends Eve down the accounting rabbit hole, where she has to rely on Roarke and a few others for insight into the world of audits. There’s still plenty of fun for Eve, however: she needs to figure out which business big-shots are lying to her, who actually did the killing… and oh yeah, she’d better catch the guy soon, because he’s gotten a taste for it now and is upping his game. “Loose ends” are getting tied up at a gruesome rate.

Calculated in Death eases off a little from the somewhat over-the-top confrontations with Eve and Roarke’s pasts, while providing enough reference to them to maintain good continuity. The focus is mostly on the case, with fun character stuff for all involved courtesy of the movie premiere. We get to see Peabody cut loose a little more as she continues to stand more firmly on her own, and of course there’s some lovely romance and semi-abstracted luscious sex between Eve and Roarke.

There wasn’t quite enough “edge of your seat” tension to put this at the top of the series list. Also, it would have been nice if the overly impulsive killer had been at least a little surprising in his actions when Eve set her inevitable trap for him. However, the case is fun, the character interactions are enjoyable, and there’s plenty of Robb’s trademark hilarious dialogue to keep things moving.

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