Sunday 15 June 2014

#CBR6 Book 54 + bonus novella: "Eternity in Death" and "Creation in Death" by J.D. Robb

Total page count: 467 pages
Eternity in Death - 3 stars
Creation in Death - 4.5 stars

Creation in Death is book 25 in the In Death series (and the novella precedes it, counting as 24.5) and this is possibly not the place you want to start, as a whole load of character development comes before. However, as the books are a bit like episodes in a crime procedural show, picking up with this one would be like watching a random episode of a show a few seasons in. I don't think there's any major spoilers for previous books in this review, but if you jump in at 25, you have only yourself to blame.

Eternity in Death is a novella, first included in the anthology Dead of Night. A wealthy society girl is found dead in her apartment, with two puncture wounds in her neck. Lt. Dallas and her partner Delia Peabody investigate, and all clues point to an underground horror club, where the owner is indeed purporting to be an actual vampire, with an alibi for the night in question. Pragmatic Dallas ignores all superstitious rumours and is determined to prove the guilt of the skeevy club owner.

In Creation in Death, Dallas and her crew hunt a serial killer, after a young brunette is found tortured and murdered in a public park. Carved into her torso is the time it took her to die, complete in hours, minutes and seconds. The dead woman was artfully draped on an expensive sheet, and had a silver ring placed on her left ring finger. The body signals the return of "The Groom", who nine years earlier killed four women in fifteen days, and then disappeared. Eve and Feeney, her then partner, now her friend and mentor, worked the case, and both see it as a personal failure that the killer got away.

To make the case even more personal, it becomes obvious that the victim was employed by Eve's billionaire husband Roarke, and all the products used to clean the body, as well as the sheet she was lying on was bought in stores owned by him. As the case progresses, it becomes obvious that the killer is going to target only women employed by Roarke, and he intents his fourth and final victim to be Eve herself.

Some of the In Death novels are quick, entertaining, light reads, with a fairly generic mystery of the week, usually with some subplot involving Eve and Roarke's marriage or their relationship to their friends. This book is tense and exciting, with the stakes being very high for everyone involved. As the reader also gets to see the POVs of the victims "the Groom" has captured, as well as the killer himself, you really get a feel for the case, and understand the tension in the police department to stop him. Because of the personal stakes for the investigators, tempers are also frayed, and there is quite a lot of tension between Eve and Feeney, whose roles are now reversed. She, who used to be the rookie, is now heading the investigation, and Feeney has to follow her lead.

The investigation also shows how far Eve is willing to go to bring murderers and criminals to justice. While normally unfailingly moral and law-abiding, she's not above using all the resources her husband's unimaginable wealth can provide, and in this case, she needs him more than ever. After the fairly annoying complications forced on their marriage in the last book, Innocent in Death, it was nice to see them working together more as a team. I also thought, considering the very real danger facing his wife, that Roarke kept his sometimes very annoying domineering alpha male tendencies in check, and trusted both the competency of his wife and her colleagues in keeping her safe. This is definitely one of the better books of the series, and reminded me why I enjoy them so much and keep reading.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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