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

Pros: Vintage Robb style; wonderfully quotable text
Rating: 5 out of 5

My assessments of the “in Death” books by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) tend to range from 3 out of 5 to 5 out of 5; they vary a bit in quality. Robb also has a very distinct style that I love, and some books embody that more than others. In Connections in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel (In Death, Book 48), Robb is at her trademark best! New York homicide detective Eve Dallas is having a bit of a break for now. She’s helping Nadine to celebrate her Oscar win with a huge party at which you’ll see all of the cast regulars. She’s taking a rare day off. Roarke is taking time to hire a new head therapist for the center he’s opening, Dr. Rochelle Pickering. All seems unusually well, until Rochelle’s brother Lyle is found dead of an apparently drug overdose in the apartment they share. Ro insists he wouldn’t have started using again, and Eve quickly agrees that the death was staged. It seems like a pretty straightforward job of figuring out who had a grudge against the ex-gang member, until details stop adding up. Soon a gang war threatens the streets of New York, and every time Eve tracks down a new lead, it turns up dead.

The opening party sparkles! It name-checks pretty much every series regular, so this is definitely not a good entry book for a new reader to the series. The party is a great opportunity to showcase the glitz-and-glamour side of the series, which contrasts so artfully with the grit-and-grime of the crime side. Eve’s subsequent day off is steeped in her trademark blunt, even crass, style, which makes a nice palate cleanser before the meat of the story. When Ro gets her dream job offer from Roarke we get to see the glee of someone’s dream coming true, which adds another facet to the escapist nature of the book.

At Robb’s best, she’s incredibly quotable. Back when I was married I used to drive my husband a little nuts reading bits and pieces of her books out loud to him. This volume absolutely hits that sweet spot. I ended up sharing a couple of the better quotes with friends via facebook while reading because they were too fun not to share!

Upscale here meant the obscenities tagged on the walls of buildings were grammatically correct.

The dialogue is delightfully snappy, particularly the banter between Eve and Roarke, Eve and Peabody, and so on. We get a few of Eve’s trademark bungled aphorisms to delightful end. Themes and call-backs wend their way through the narrative and dialogue like threads coming together to form a tapestry.

The mystery and web of crimes unfolds delightfully. The faked OD seems almost straightforward in the ease with which Eve figures out that it really was a homicide, but the twists pile up from there. The head of the old gang Lyle belonged to didn’t really have a gripe with him despite the fact that he left the gang after getting out of prison. He also wouldn’t have handled it in that manner if he had. He does, however, have a couple of suspicious business interests outside of the gang with an unlikely set of partners. Someone involved in Lyle’s death also shows up dead shortly thereafter, killed in an absolutely brutal fashion (this series does get dark, folks) and left in a place that seems calculated to kick off violence between two rival gangs. The buildup of all of these details that don’t jibe is just fantastic.

Galahad the cat seems particularly full of personality this time, and after reading this book I seriously want a pizza. The characters have their usual depth, the interplay between them is fantastic, 2061 New York is vivid and real, and there’s some great action toward the climax. This is a fantastic entry into the series!

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