Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Delusion in Death, J.D. Robb

After reading the epic 11/22/63, I was glad to find my self back in the future - pun intended. JD Robb is Nora Roberts' nom de plume. Now, I've read a few of her other books, under her own name, and I honestly can't say I'm a fan, but I do love this series.

The In Death series follows the enchanting Lt. Eve Dallas, NYPSD Homicide detective, through her life and her cases. And I've got to be honest, this is one of my favorite series. I know, it seems like I say that a lot, right? Well, I keep reading the ones I like, so it's kinda bound to happen.

When we meet Eve, her whole life is homicide. She has one friend (no exaggeration, one), and no life outside her job. She is the job, as she likes to say. She's also a victim - no, a survivor. She was abused and enslaved as a child, finally escaping at the age of eight by killing the man who provided sperm. His plan was to torture her into a life as the "perfect" prostitute - as a special treat for the ball-less wonders called pedophiles and then as a broken women who will tolerate anything.

But she's made herself. She became a cop. She's strong, smart, confident, brave, capable, and not afraid of sexuality. In the first book, her life changes. She meets Roarke (rich, gorgeous, and, the raison d'etre: Irish). One of my favorite things of this series is the complete lack of the will-they-won't-they plot device. By book three, or somewhere around there, they're married. Fast, yes, but I prefer that over 25 books of dating and breaking up and getting back together. Roarke opens the door to a life beyond the job for her. He opens the door to friends and life, not just survival.

I want to say one more thing about the suppliers of Eve's genetic material. In New York to Dallas (the only book without "in death" in the title), Eve confronts her past, and the woman who birthed her. She's still dealing with the residue of that encounter - which resulted in the woman's death - in this one. She died without knowing who Eve was. A good thing, but still difficult. What I want to say is that I want Eve to find some of her other family. From what we've learned of her sperm donor, his family probably isn't much better than hers, but I wonder if the same is true for the woman who birthed her. I think I'd like to see Eve find her grandparents, or maybe an aunt, so she can see she's not the only good fruit on a rotten tree. She says it's the choices you make, not your blood, that makes you who you are - and I agree - but I guess I'd like her endurance to be rewarded with a confirmation. Her parents may have made shitty choices, but she didn't and the rest of her family didn't. Even if they're dead, it would be nice for her to know.

Ok, that was depressing. Moving on. Another thing I love is that the ideas are so creative. As I said, this book (it's the 35th, FYI) brings me back to the future - 2060 to be exact. There are flying cars (long promised, never achieved in reality - to my great sadness) and what basically amounts to a smartphone, but is called a link or PPC (personal portable/pocket computer - I forget the 2nd P). There are privately owned satellites orbiting earth where one can have some fun on vacation - Roarke owns several of them. While space travel is still fairly novel, earth transport is not. One can get from NYC to Europe in about an hour, as far as I can tell. Washington is just East Washington due to the Urban Wars (which started about 2012, so be warned).

All this allows Robb to basically find new and interesting ways to kill people. Computer viruses that actually enter the brain and kill a person. Human cloning on a massive, not to mention intensely disturbing, scale. Tech that makes people kill themselves and happily. In this particular adventure, Eve is called to the scene of a slaughter. An entire bar of people decided to kill each other - in about 12 minutes.

I'm not going to ruin the who-done-it (which is also a new TV show I'm super excited for), but I will tell you it wasn't a complete surprise for me. Really not a surprise at all. But that's not why I read these. If you haven't picked up on this trend from me yet: I. Love. Characters. They're what gets me and keeps me interested in stories, and In Death does that in spades.

Peabody is Eve's partner. She's so fantastic. Free-ager progeny turned cop, she starts out as Eve's aide and, therefore, gets trained by the best. Once she becomes a detective, she gets the slot as Eve's partner - what appears to be a long vacant position, given Eve's previous desire to live the job.

Peabody meets and falls for the annoyingly adorable McNab - despite every effort by both to avoid it. The relationship actually reminds me a bit of the Sam/Alyssa relationship in the Troubleshooters series by Suzanne Brockmann, which I talked about recently. He's an e-detective and regularly wears clashing shades of neon.

Feeney was Eve's trainer and heads up the e-detectives. He's ornery and rumpled and usually makes me laugh (though that's true of many of the characters). He's also Eve's father figure, even though both of them are too uncomfortable with emotion to admit it.

Mavis is Eve's best and oldest friend (the "one friend" I mentioned earlier). She's outrageous. Like Jem was outrageous (yup, I went there - is my age showing?). Eve arrested her, and they've been friends ever since. Love at first bust. Mavis has kind of seen and done it all, and is still constantly upbeat. She helps Eve experience the world around her until she can start experiencing it herself - and still helps her figure it out from time-to-time. Let's face it: having more than one friend is hard!!

Summerset is Roarke's...butler/valet/assistant/majordomo/father. You read that last one correctly. That makes him Eve's father-in-law - and they're both just pleased as punch about that one. The conflict is instant and makes for many a witty exchange. Initially, Summerset's dislike for Eve is genuine. He and Roarke came up through less than legal means, and she is the cop. Then he doesn't like her because she's not what he planned for Roarke, and parents always want the best for their kids, right? When it turns out the best isn't what they thought, it's hard to swallow. Eventually, they just like sniping at each other, it's more comfortable for them both.

There are more, obviously, but those are the highlights. I think I enjoy Peabody's banter the most, be it with Eve, McNab, Roarke or some other party, but the others certainly don't disappoint. The next one, Calculated in Death, is out in paperback in July. I look forward to it.

This isn't a series that must be read from the beginning, the books can stand alone, but I think you'll enjoy it more that way. So, go ahead, get started with Naked in Death and have fun. Let me know when you catch up... ;)

Delusion in Death, J.D. Robb

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