Book Review – Devoted in Death

Title: Devoted in Death

Author: J.D. Robb

Format: E-book

Year Published: 2015

As I believe I’ve established before, I have a fondness for Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb in her In Death series. Not exactly high literature, sometimes they have awesome plot twists, and they’re always a quick, easy read.

Devoted is the newest offering in the world. Unfortunately, there are several routes that the mystery can take, and this book takes my least favorite form – the one where we learn who the murderer is right off the bat and then it’s just a matter of our stalwart heroes figuring it out and then catching them. I much prefer to be able to try to solve the mystery by the clues presented (which is why my second-favorite mystery style that comes up in this series – the “Eve has a hunch who it is but won’t tell anybody who or why and we don’t get enough details to figure it out ourselves” thing – drives me crazy).

The murderers in this are subtly different enough from Robbs’ other murderers that it didn’t feel like  a rehash of an old plot, and there was less of the Check-list Of Things To Be Included (Mavis is mentioned, Feeney makes a small appearance, but no Trina/Nadine/Eve’s past focus).

The story starts with the murderers’ first kill – by accident, but it sparks something in them. Then they make their way to NYC and onto the radar of Eve Dallas. Their first kill was a young cellist, and I almost prefer the stories where the victim has nobody to care about him, since watching lives be shattered by the news is a gut punch. (Strangely, I get less of this in cop shows – maybe because we usually pick up in the middle of an interview.)

Fortunately, it doesn’t take Dallas long to pick up that this kill isn’t the first, and soon begins to trace the path back to where it started. As the kills cross state-lines, the FBI is involved, but they’re only barely on-screen, mostly preferring to follow their own line of investigation (which is, as usual, proven wrong. This is one of the quibbles I have with Dallas – she’s really good at her job, and rarely, if ever, is she wrong about who the murderer is, and if she’s in disagreement with another agency, she’s ALWAYS right. Let her be wrong, once in a while! Fortunately, she’s really bad at personal relationships, so she’s a bit more of a balanced character than she appears.)

Helped out by a small-town deputy, Dallas and her crew manage to track down the murderers and rescue the two people that they took. Like most of the secondary victims, I was rooting for them and was grateful that they survived (barely, in one case). (Unlike in Thankless in Death, where the secondary victim I wanted to live didn’t and the one I didn’t have strong feelings about did.)

As a side note, the more I read her work, the more I am convinced that Robb has a deep geek side. She sneaks a Pratchett reference into this book (at which I squeaked. Loudly), did an excellent job of showing the geeky world with Fantasy In Death, and when Mal met Kaylee in one of her romance novels I nearly died laughing.

Overall, while not one of my favorites, the more unusual plot and lack of filler puts this a solid 3/5 pages.

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Book Review – Obsession in Death

Title: Obsessed in Death

Author: J.D. Robb

Format: Hardback

Year Published: 2015

I’ve been a long-time reader of the J.D. Robb’s ‘In Death’ series, although I firmly feel that the best books of the series are books 4-8 (ish), before the novels start feeling formulaic. That said, I enjoyed this latest offering more than several of the more recent books.

I’ll admit, I much prefer mystery novels where we get to figure whodunit along with the detective instead of watching the detective chase the murderer around and try to catch them. The ‘In Death’ novels tend to vary between the two styles (and occasionally the author likes to add a third style in, where we try to figure it out, and then Dallas “talks it over with someone” and pinpoints the murderer based on “gut” but we’re not told who. I’ll admit, those drive me bananas). In this case, we are not told who the murderer is (but neither are the main characters) and we don’t really get a chance to solve it until the main characters do. We are told as soon as they know, however.

The story starts with a murder of a lawyer that Eve has had dealings with in the past – and a message left by the killer at the crime scene. The murderer views this death as a gift for Eve, and signs the message “Your One True Friend.” As the case continues to unfold, Eve is faced with the fact that the murderer has put her on a pedestal, and eventually all idols will fall.

The story takes us to visit most of the fan-favorites in the world – Mavis, Mira, Nadine, Peabody, McNab, Feeney – without throwing in others that aren’t necessary for this story (notably Trina, who often is thrown in there when it’s not logical, and Charles and Louise). There’s just enough action in the story without it feeling overwhelming and like Eve is just getting into fights all the time, and enough procedural work to make it feel like an actual detective novel.

Watching Eve face down the killer in the end, surrounded by her men, and realizing that they too were her family, adds another layer to her life – something that has stagnated a little bit over the past few books. (And, I admit, I have a fondness for most of her men – watching the way they interact with each other but always stand up for each other.)

A solid offering in the world, but not a stand-out book. 3/5 pages

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