Review: “Golden in Death,” J.D. Robb

Pros: Excellent and enjoyable traditional-style “In Death” book
Rating: 5 out of 5

When J.D. Robb’s (Nora Roberts) Golden in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel (In Death, Book 50) picks up, a pediatrician–Dr. Kent Abner–is killed by a complex yet highly-targeted nerve gas attack. Eve and Peabody can’t find any enemies who’d believably have both the motive and the means, and they’re taken by surprise when a second death occurs: Elise Duran. There’s no apparent link between the two people–at first. The police are eager to catch this killer, because if he were to decide to make his nerve agent less targeted, he could kill innumerable innocent people. As it turns out, there is a link between Kent and Elise, but it lies a handful of years ago, and the link is through their spouses. It sends Eve poking around into the world of education that caters to the wealthy, and the lengths people will go to for money, prestige–and revenge.

This is probably neither the best nor the worst volume to come in on if you haven’t followed the series so far. It certainly involves a handful of the people Roarke and Eve have gotten to know over the course of the series, and involves quite a few people from Eve’s workplace, all of which Robb handles skillfully. But if you’re new to the series, you might feel a little adrift. The plot, however, isn’t overly complex or overly reliant on character histories, so it’s a good starting place in that way.

I rather enjoy the murder mysteries that are less centered on the main characters, so this is a wonderful callback to a time before we started delving seriously into Roarke and Eve’s childhoods and families. (Not that I didn’t enjoy those, but I think the books tend to be a little better when they aren’t focused on them.) There’s still plenty going on, and some enjoyable complications to the plot; there just isn’t a lot of outside drama overlaying the mystery.

As usual, I’m including a content note for both sex and death. Robb doesn’t pull any punches with her death scenes and the like, but this is not one of her darker or gorier books. I love the fact that this is a future (April 2061, to be precise) in which things like same-sex marriage go nearly unremarked-upon because they’re so normalized. There are ‘Licensed Companions’ which is legalized prostitution. The future may not be shiny and clean–as evidenced by the need for Eve and her department of homicide cops–but it’s hopeful.

All in all this is an intriguing murder mystery with enjoyable characters, clever twists, and fantastic worldbuilding. You can’t go wrong.

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