Rating: 4 stars
Date begun: February 16th, 2012
Date finished: February 19th, 2012
This is book 18 in J.D. Robb's In Death series, so it goes without saying that there is all sorts of backstory you miss out on if this is the first one you pick up. It's impossible for me to write this review without spoiling some of the stuff from previous novels, so go read Naked in Death if you haven't already been acquainted with Roarke and Lieutenant Eve Dallas.
Eve Dallas is called to a murder scene, where at first glance, it looks as if Roarke's personal aide's daughter, brutally killed her husband, Blair Bissell, and close friend Felicity Cade, in a fit of jealous rage. Both the suspect, Reva Ewing, and her mother, Roarke's trusted assistant, Caro, assure Eve that Reva is not the killer, and that she found the bodies when she rushed over to her friend's apartment to confront them - having received incriminating photographs and video of their affair. It doesn't take much investigation for Eve and her partner Peabody to see that the scene is indeed a setup, but the question is who would want Reva out of the picture, and why are all the computers connected to the victims completely wiped by a mysterious virus?
Within days, not just Reva's husband and socialite friend are dead, but also the artist husband's bimbo assistant. Her computer is also fried. Blair's brother is missing, and everything suggests that the double murder has something to do with a top secret government contract Reva and Roarke were working on to stop a cyber-terrorist group. Then Eve and Roarke discover that both Blair and Felicity were deep cover Homeland Security agents, and possibly also double agents. When hacking into Homeland Security, Roarke also uncovers further secrets from Eve's tragic past, and the two have trouble seeing eye to eye on how to deal with the revelations that come to light.
I love reading about Eve and Roarke and all the recurring casts of the In Death books. It delights me that Peabody has become a detective in her own right and is now Eve's partner, rather than aide. I love that Peabody and McNab live together, that Mavis is having a baby and that Eve is completely befuddled by this. The mysteries are entertaining, and Robb (Nora Roberts writing under a pseudonym) is fairly good at coming up with strange new scenarios, but it's the ongoing story I really read the books for. In this one, Eve and Roarke are at odds through much of the book, and just as I would hate it if close friends of mine argued and had marital discord because of something, I hate it when Eve and Roarke are unhappy. Of course they sort things out in the end - and while I see Eve's side in this, I'm glad that several of the supporting cast took Roarke's side, as well. Another satisfying installment, if you're a fan of the series. If you're not, pick up one of the earlier books, and join the rest of us.