J.D. Robb has done a good job of keeping a series going over so many books - I think this is number 27 in the 'In Death' group. Even more surprisingly, heroine Eve Dallas has stuck with the same man for the entire run; it's unusual for an author to try to portray a steady marriage in a novel, as that's
perhaps less interesting than the spikes and fireworks of unmarried characters or warring partners. In this particular book, however, the relationship between Eve and Roarke is less significant than the overall plot and, for me, that
is an improvement over the more recent books in this series. Yes, Eve and Roarke still have a few scenes together, they still talk with the rather toe-curling phrases like "you center me" and all that stuff, but
much of that can be skim-read if it's a bit too gooey for you (as it is for me; let's face it, how many married people say that sort of thing to each other?).
The murder in this story is one that affects both Eve and Feeney very deeply. Of course, in all the other books the murders affect Eve very deeply (for someone who appears quite cold and heartless toward living people, she is surprisingly nice to dead ones), but this murder is perhaps more significant because it is the work of a serial killer whom they weren't able to catch nine years ago. This killer, dubbed 'The Groom',
murdered four women in New York then moved on to Europe, South America and elsewhere, so Eve and Feeney missed their chance.
When Eve is called to the site of a dumped body and sees the unique pattern of this killer's handiwork on the body, she knows it's all starting again
- and she knows that many more women will die.
This time, however, she's the Primary in the case and Feeney is helping her.
Also, this time there seems to be a more personal element to it, with links between the dead woman and Roarke's world. Once again, Roarke
seems able to completely dump his entire workload (of apparently running half
the businesses on the planet) to help Eve; I find this lack of realism annoying
in Robb's writing. His ability to know all his staff, at least vaguely, is also vastly unrealistic. Anyway, they soon realize that it's not Roarke
whom The Groom is working toward but Eve. They couldn't catch him last time, and he seemed to make no mistakes - can they get him this time?
Coincidence plays quite a part in this story. there are also a number of occasions where Eve makes a leap of logic that pays dividends (as always), and she doesn't seem to put a foot wrong. The story is fast-moving; the events take place over just a couple of days, and
while it is an interesting read, too much unreality is injected into the story in terms of solving the plot. Interestingly, at the end Eve does something illegal (with Roarke's help) which involves her carrying out her own brand of justice.
Is this a new step in her character, someone who previously was completely moral now setting herself up as some kind of judge to override
the rights of another? Perhaps this will be explored further in future books. It's an interesting possibility, although
it doesn't add to her appeal to me - in fact, I don't find Eve a very appealing character at all. The usual subsidiary characters are
present - Peabody, McNab, Mavis, Feeney, Trina, Baxter, Dr. Mira, etc., as well as Summerset (I enjoy the scenes with Summerset the most), but the focus of this story is much more on the murder and the desperate race to solve it than
on the characters and their lives. I find that an improvement, although other
readers might not. It is a good read, but there is no novelty in this series any longer; I fear it
has outlasted its natural life.