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Strangers in Death, by J. D. Robb

This is the 29th “… in Death” full length novel—count ‘em, 29!—and this series just keeps getting better. Amazing, ain’t it? Most series seem to loose momentum after the first few—anywhere between four and ten books. This one just keeps going (J.D. Robb as the Energizer Bunny of series?).

While reading this, please be aware that, while I won’t quite gush uncontrollably, I am very much a fan of J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts.

Blurb:

Technology may be different in 2060 New York, yet the city is still a place of many cultures and great divides. And as ever, some murders receive more attention than others, especially those in which the victim is a prominent businessman, found in his Park Avenue apartment, tied to the bed—and strangled—with cords of black velvet.

It doesn’t surprise Lieutenant Eve Dallas that Thomas Anders’ scandalous death is a source of titillation and speculation for the public—and of humiliation for his family. While everyone else in the city is talking about it, those close to Anders aren’t so anxious to do so. Fortunately, because Dallas’ billionaire husband, Roarke, happens to own the prime real estate where Anders’s sporting-goods firm was headquartered, she has some help with access. Before long, she’s knocking on doors—or barging through them—to look for the answers she needs.

But the facts don’t add up. Physical evidence suggests that the victim didn’t struggle. The security breach in the highly fortified apartment indicates that the killer was someone close to Anders, but everyone’s alibi checks out, from the wife who was off in the tropics to the loving nephew who stands to inherit millions. Was this a crime of passion—or a carefully planned execution?

It’s up to Dallas to solve a sensational case where all involved guard secrets from one another—and strangers may be connected in unexpected, and deadly, ways.

The blurb? I hate it. Deeply. First, it’s not an apartment, but a house. House, people. Second, since when has “good security” become “fortified”? And the Roarke bit? One hundred percent misleading. Add that the stupid thing gives away too much, and you have the perfect BAD blurb. /rant

Anyway, on to the novel itself.

When Thomas Anders’ body is discovered by the housekeeper in shocking circumstances, the only two people with potential motives have solid alibis. Furthermore, every person Eve interviews agrees: this was a good man, respected and liked, and the revelations spawning from the manner of his death are a complete surprise to all who knew him, both intimately and in passing.

And yet, there is no doubt he has been murdered, and Eve knows in her gut, almost from the beginning, who is responsible. The trick lies in finding out how it happened, and then proving it. Once the method of the murder is determined, it becomes a stalking game between Eve and Roarke, and the murderer.

The title, and a certain pattern from previous books in the series, gave me the key to the homicide investigation fairly early on, but then that’s not really why I read these books. I read them for the characters and their relationships. Eve and Roarke, obviously, but also Peabody and McNabb, Feeney, Nadine, Louise and Charles, Morris, Trueheart, Baxter. I love seeing these characters interact with each other and their environment, seeing what is behind who they are now, and seeing how they grow… It’s just a pleasure to revisit this world.

While this is not my most favorite installment in the series—particularly coming right after Innocence in Death and Creation in Death—the truth is that a not-all-the-way-to-the-top JDRobb/Nora Roberts’ books is still much better than a great many other authors’ best efforts.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing more of Louise and Charles, as her acceptance of who he is and what he does has always endeared them to me. And as with Peabody and McNabb, the evolution of their relationship makes the “… in Death” world as a whole all that more tangible and real for me.

There were only two false notes, for me. One, the fact that no mention is made by Feeney, Eve, nor Roarke, about the events at the end of Creation in Death. I am not certain of the timeline, but I had expected to see some soul searching going on, particularly from Feeney. The second one was something I missed during my first read through, but that became evident on the second pass; this is the argument between Roarke and Eve over money. More precisely, over Eve’s reluctance—or rather, inability—to consider Roarke’s money as hers.

While the argument itself felt quite organic to me, as I think it had been brewing for quite a number of books, there was a certain abruptness to how said argument ended. I can’t quite see Roarke giving in, for lack of a better term, so easily—and definitely not when he had been so intensely angry just minutes earlier. I can only hope that the issue is not done with, but merely shelved for now, to be explored further in future novels.

This one gets 8 out of 10

12 Comments »

  • I wonder how much money Roarke really does have.
    Well when Eve and Roarke have a fight, they have make up sex! Hee Hee.

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  • Yep. That’s pretty close. I love the cast of characters and I suspect that’s what keep this series going. My favorite? Trina. Loved her part in Creation in Death.

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  • Jackie L.
    April 3
    8:42 pm

    I particularly enjoyed this book–love them all, but particularly this one. The title kinda led me in the right direction, so I wasn’t worried about whodunnit. And I always figured Charles and the doc would get together. So I wasn’t pushing through the book to find out how it ended.

    As a result, I was able to sit back and enjoy the craft that goes into a LaNora book. And the craft is considerable. It’s hard for me to wear my lit crit hat and still enjoy romance novels.

    For a lot of my favorite authors, I think, oy, so-and-so always does that in her writing, which isn’t optimal, but it’s a good story. I’ll hang in there. Yadadadadada. Until I get past the unhappy phrasing or awkward plot device and can resume reading enjoyably.

    For instance, I happen to love Karen Rose. Her romantic suspense novels are really great. But I always feel like 10 people have to die before she starts telling me the story. (She writes what I call Cheerios–serial killers.)

    Imagine my delighted surprise when in the start of her last novel, they found a field with a bunch of dead bodies in it. I felt like I got a freebie–a head start on the story. I didn’t sit there silently counting corpses until I got to about 10 or so for the story to start. One DB, two DB, etc.

    But with LaNora, when I recognize stylistic and plot maneuvers, it is with pleasure, because they are well done. Like looking at a well painted picture, I can see the work and craft that went into the creation.

    And that’s why this book was so special. Usually I see the style and craft on the second read. But I was able to kick back and enjoy on the first read.

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  • Keishon
    April 4
    12:36 am

    I stopped at book 6, I think. Time for me to start up again.

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  • Keishon, if I may? I think you stopped right when the series starts hitting its stride.

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  • I swear everyone loves this series…I never made it past the first two books.

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  • Wendy
    April 5
    12:33 am

    I’ve never read any of the In Death books.

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  • Donna
    April 6
    4:30 am

    I re-read ALL the In Death books right before the last one was released! I enjoyed them soooo much! …again!

    For those of you who, like me, had started with the first one published way back when, I would advise you to re-read them one after another. The way Nora builds the “story” of Dallas and Roarke is masterful. Even though I had always enjoyed and loved her In Death books, when I re-read them I now appreciate the writing skill it takes to keep a series like this one flowing.

    I’m not a writer so I don’t have the words to say how much you will enjoy re-reading them. All I can say is that I found a new deeper love for the written word and the author who can tell a story like Nora, she keeps you involved in the characters she creates. I cried all over again when Eve began her journey through her memories. I fell in love with Roarke all over again as he and Eve build a life together.

    It’s very much worth the time and effort to revisit Eve and Roarke! AND I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT ONE IS OUT!

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  • Nora Roberts
    April 6
    6:09 pm

    Thanks, AL. So glad you enjoyed this one.

    FYI, though the end events in Creation will be briefly touched on in the next book, it’s not a Big. It feels to me it wasn’t as monumental to the characters as it was to some readers. Must ponder this.

    Rowena, I can’t claim everybody loves the series, but lucky for me many do. Still it’s not for everyone. Could be it’s just not the series, the characters for you. I know what you mean though as I’m always puzzled when readers rave over a book or an author and I read the book, or sample the author and think: Huh.

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  • *squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*

    *ahem*

    :grin:

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  • I’ve never read any of the In Death books.

    I didn’t start with Naked in Death, I started with Judgement (yes, it’s spelt with an e in the middle dammit!) in Death whilst I was waiting at my local surgery. Needless to say, I went and bought every single In Death Book and read, and read and read for the next few weeks.

    The characters are what keeps me coming back for more, Eve and Roarke are just my favourite romance couple, even more so than Linda Howard’s Mackenzie’s Mountain pairing.

    However, I am a huge romantic suspense fan, and if you don’t happen to be too fond of rom-sus, then in the first few books, Eve and Roarke’s interactions may be too few and far between for the romance purist, but for me, those little peeks into their world together were what kept me hankering for more.

    Hey AL, I think I just waxed lyrical. Dammit.

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  • Hey AL, I think I just waxed lyrical. Dammit.

    I am such a bad influence :grin:

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