Monday, February 24, 2014

Dallas continues to stand for the dead

It seems wrong, somehow, to review book #38 in a series when I’ve never posted a review of the other thirty-seven titles. Or maybe it’s even more important to review a book when the series has expanded to this incredible number. Does book #38 live up to book one? Is it better? Is it worse? Does it still have the magic, the spark, the ability to hold my interest? Or has this series become trite, predictable, and am I over it?

For those who are unfamiliar with the In Death series, here’s a brief synopsis: Eve Dallas has transformed her life. She's gone from a horribly abusive, nightmarish childhood to a brilliant career with the NYPD. She’s a Lieutenant now, in charge of her own department, and one of the best detectives in the city. Over the years (and books) she’s accumulated some close friends (much to her own amazement). She’s also found love with former thief, now billionaire, Roarke. As the series has evolved secondary characters have become primary, and their stories have become just as important as Eve and Roarke’s. Swirling around all of them is mystery and death.

Concealed in Death begins with Roarke inspecting an old, rundown building he's purchased. It’s a mess, and his team is at the beginning stages of gutting and rehabbing it. The foreman hands Roarke a sledgehammer, telling him “You should take the first couple whacks. It’s good luck when the owner does it.” Is it good luck, or is it fate, that a few swings take down the cheap wall and reveal three stacked bodies? Roarke tags his wife, and the police find nine more victims walled up in the former location of The Sanctuary, a shelter for street kids and runaways. Tracking down the murderer of twelve victims fifteen years after the crimes will be no easy task. But Eve Dallas stands for the dead, and she won’t stop until they, and their killer, has been identified and brought to justice.

I am continually amazed at Nora Roberts (J.D. Robb) and her ability to come up with storylines, create characters, and crank out novels at the rate of two per year (sometimes more). These books should have become repetitive by this point. There should be overlapping cases, recurring character stereotypes, or even mistakes in the backstories of the rollover characters. Instead Roberts/Robb continues to develop intriguing, fast-paced plots and characters that I both love and hate – all while building on the interpersonal relationships of the current, major characters we've come to know. I was not disappointed with this latest installment, which I read in two days, and am already looking forward to book #39.

Robb, J.D. Concealed in Death (In Death series #38). New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2014. 4.5 stars.

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