It was one of Eve Dallas’s earliest takedowns, back in her uniform days. A monster named Isaac McQueen had been abducting young victims and leaving them scarred in both mind and body. Thanks to Eve, he wound up where he belonged, removed from civilized society in Rikers. But he’s not behind bars anymore. After his escape, McQueen has two things in mind. One is to take up where he left off, preying on the young and innocent–when necessary, with the help of a female partner all too willing to be manipulated and to aid and abet his crimes. His other goal: to get revenge on the woman who stopped him all those years ago, now a high-profile lieutenant in the NYPSD and married to one of the city’s richest men.
Commanding Eve’s attention with a chilling and brazen crime, McQueen sets off the chase–forcing Eve down a road marked with blood and tears, a road that eventually leads southwest to Dallas, Texas, the home Eve fled long ago. And each new twist brings her closer to the harrowing memory of when she wasn’t a hardened detective but a vulnerable girl just like McQueen’s innocent prey. As her husband, Roarke, tries to rescue her from the nightmares that claw at her mind, and her partner, Peabody, doggedly works to support her Eve must confront–and call upon–the darkest parts of her own soul in order to survive.
Novelist Nora Roberts uses the pseudonym J.D. Robb for her “In Death” series of books about mid-twentieth-century homicide cop Eve Dallas. I’ve been hooked on these books since I borrowed a copy of Naked in Death, the first book in the series, from a friend about five years ago during my recuperation from a nasty illness.
Lieutenant Eve Dallas, the survivor of an horrific childhood, has got herself a little attitude when it comes to solving murders. Eve pushes herself and her team mercilessly, to bring the killers to justice, to speak for the dead. Eve can be sarcastic, a bully, impossible to put up with, but her team (and uber-dreamy husband Roarke) put up with all of her shenanigans because they see what’s just below the surface of Eve’s attitude: A devotion to the truth, a passion for justice, and still haunted by her past.
Other reviewers have described the “In Death” series as ‘futuristic police procedurals,’ and I think that’s accurate. Roarke especially has some really cool high tech tools to help his wife catch the perps. And some perps end up in prison on other planets, which I find comforting. But the books are also about the marriage of Eve and Roarke, and their passionate commitment to one another. There are steamy sex scenes between Eve and Roarke, of course, but not that many. It’s the story of a marriage, the day-to-day details of a couple who work, love, fight, and live together. Eve’s always lived simply, and it’s hard for her to live in a mansion, presided over by an equally sarcastic major-domo named Somerset, but she’s gotten used to having scalding hot showers and real coffee (which, I’m sorry to say, is hard to come by in the mid-twentieth century). Besides trading barbs with Eve, Somerset always manages to keep Eve’s team well fed when they are working on a case.
For me, a good story is all about the characters, what they are up to, the mistakes they make, the lessons they learn, and the lessons still eluding them. The books follow a predictable pattern–a crime, usually a murder, Eve and her team investigate, Roarke gets involved to help the investigation, Eve starts to relive the past, etc. What hooks me, in every book, is how Eve continues to deal with her traumatic past as she solves these crimes, aided by the people who love her. As each book is published, the reader sees that Eve is growing as a person and a character, even though she continues to struggle. The attitude dissolves one minute particle at a time, and there are moments when the reader sees Eve’s soul, naked, bruised and bleeding, but still willing to forge on.
Eve Dallas surrounds herself with the usual team in New York to Dallas–husband Roarke, Peabody, McNab, Dr. Mira, Feeney, and Commander Whitney are some of the series regulars. They uncover and track down leads to catch the pedophile McQueen and his occasional accomplice, a woman who seems familiar to Eve.
In New York to Dallas, Eve is forced to confront her past once again, as a small child, and a rookie cop. The dialogue is short and to the point, matching Eve’s no-nonsense approach to solving crimes. No flowery prose, just a straightforward telling of the tale.
When I reviewed this book on Goodreads, I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars, but I think it’s worth a five. If you haven’t already figured it out, Eve is one of my fictional heroes because she’s smart, classy, and fearless, even when she’s scared spitless.
J.D. Robb publishes two In Death books every year, and I lost count after thirty. The latest book, Celebrity in Death, is coming out on February 21, 2012. I’ve got mine pre-ordered from Amazon.com.
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