Rating: 4 out of 5
J.D. Robb’s (Nora Roberts) Shadows in Death (In Death 51) starts out as so many of these books do: with a murder. The victim was a woman from an important and wealthy family, and she was stabbed while in the park. Nothing valuable was taken, and there’s very little to go on until Roarke sees a familiar face in the crowd around the crime scene. Lorcan Cobbe is probably the closest thing Roarke has to a nemesis, and he deliberately let Roarke spot him. He’s an assassin with a very long and successful history behind him. Someone had the poor woman killed, and paid well to do it. As it turns out, Cobbe was also at the center of a case 20 years earlier that Feeney and Whitney were never able to close, and Interpol has wanted him forever, so the case becomes very big very fast. Given Cobbe’s history, it’s likely he’ll go after Roarke and those closest to him–Summerset and Eve. The big thing the New York police have going for them is the fact that in his rage toward Roarke, Cobbe has gotten sloppy and broken from his former patterns.
This volume pulls in all of the police cast we’re used to (pretty much). Absolutely everyone wants in on stopping someone who’s going after Eve and Roarke. There’s a brief drop by the school Roarke is opening, but other than that the non-cop side characters don’t show up much, and that’s fine. I think it works better when a novel focuses more on one part of Eve and Roarke’s busy lives at a time, or close to it. The new character (doesn’t it always seem like there’s one?) is an Interpol agent who’s basically a good guy, but can’t resist trying to poke at Roarke regarding some unsolved thefts from back in the day.
Eve, Roarke, and Peabody are pretty much what we’ve come to expect from them so far. The main thrust of the plot is trying to out-think and out-play a canny assassin. There’s no mystery to the guilty parties this time. I do love the part where Eve sweats the guy who hired Cobbe and backs him into admitting what he knows. I always love watching Eve and Peabody play bad cop/good cop.
Cobbe is an interesting character. He has ego and charm, but underneath it all he’s a brute who likes his knives a little too much. He claimed to be Roarke’s half-brother back in the day, and while everyone but him is certain he wasn’t actually fathered by Roarke’s old man, he has never given up on the idea that he’s the one who should have been acknowledged as the man’s heir and legacy. Ironically, the thing that is likely to prove his undoing is that while he’s a lone wolf by nature, Roarke has an extensive found family.
It isn’t as quotable as some of these volumes, but it’s still a solidly enjoyable book.
Content note for sex, violence, and animal harm.