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Indulgence in Death is the latest story in the excellent '... in Death' series from J D Robb, the pseudonym under which Nora Roberts writes these futuristic crime thrillers featuring the NYPD detective, Eve Dallas and her multi-millionaire husband, Roarke.
For those who have been following this series, there is no need to introduct Eve, Roarke or their friends and colleagues but, in a nutshell, the date is some 50-odd years into the future. Eve met Roarke in book 1 when she was investigating him as a possible suspect in a vicious murder. They married in book 2 and have been dealing with the criminals of a futuristic New York over the course of the subsequent 30 or more books.
Nora Roberts is a prolific writer, nown mainly for her romances but with this series, written as J D Robb, she leaves behind the soft and fluffy romance for something altogether more gritty and with a bit more bite to it.
Back in New York after her return from a holiday in rural Ireland where she and her husband stumbled over a body, Eve Dallas is thrown straight into a much more complicated crime. Someone seems to be killing just for fun.
First it was the owner of a limo company who was shot with a crossbow and then a high class call girl is found stabbed through the heart. The evidence is pointing to someone with a taste for the expensive high life, possibly even a member of New York's rich and famous. But Lieutenant Eve Dallas is onto the killer and she's racing against time to catch him (or her) before they strike again.
Price and availability
This is only recently published in the UK (November 2010) so is currently only available in hardback for £7.64 at Amazon. Alternatively, like me, you should be able to track down a copy for free at your local library.
With any long running series, be it crime or any other genre, there is always the risk of producing a less than stellar episode in the ongoing lives of the characters or allowing the character development to get in the way of the actual story being told. With this latest novel, J D Robb has managed once again to marry both the continuing story of Eve and Roarke with another nasty crime. And for someone who earned a crust for many years writing about hearts and flowers, she does crime very well, in my opinion. OK, she doesn't write murder with as gorily as, say, Karin Slaughter, but neither does she gloss over the less attractive side of killing.
The story begins well with Eve and Roarke visiting his newly found relatives in the rural west of Ireland and immediately Eve finds herself out of her comfort zone. She's a city girl and green vistas and farm animals make her feel decidedly uncomfortable. But even when out of her familiar milieu, she can't quite leave death behind, as she and Roarke stumble upon a body and get involved in the subsequent investigation, turning their vacations into something of a busman's holiday.
Once back in New York, however, serial killing is the name of the game and the perpetrator is doing it simply for kicks.
This series began life as much more of a romantic crime thriller with details of Eve's friends and family sometimes getting in the way of the crime solving but as the series has progressed, the books have taken on a much darker edge, becoming more crime oriented and the romantic and personal life has taken much more of a back seat which, I feel, has actually improved the books. I know it doesn't please die-hard Roberts fans who began reading the series because of these more romantic elements but J D Robb has obviously recognised that although love and crime sit quite happily together, the crime needs to take a more prominent place. There are still plenty of snippets of Eve's life which crop up and add interest and enjoyment to the story but the main concentration is now on the crime.
Eve Dalls is a tough cookie and because of her less than perfect upbringing, she sometimes finds it difficult to relate to people in the more accepted ways. She's embarrassed by public displays of affection, either from her husband or her friends, and is always rather surprised to discover than people like her, which is rather an endearing trait. That isn't to say that she doesn't value her friends but she's just a lot less demonstrative than most people and during the series, readers have seen Eve become more at ease with her relationships.
Roarke is a leading character cut from completely different cloth. He acquired his fortune by sometimes stepping outside the bounds of the law but since meeting and marrying Eve, he's given up any criminal activity, although he still has some contacts who can occasionally prove useful. He's rather more of a romance leading man, being tall, dark, drop-dead gorgeous, urbane and fabulously wealthy; the kind of husband every woman aspires to have but (sadly) few of us ever manage to snag. Roarke, despite his criminal past, sometimes comes across as a little too perfect. During the course of the series, he's never once made a rude bodily noise, said something inappropriate, bought Eve anything less than the perfect gift or ever misunderstood her. As I said, just too perfect to believe!
The book itself isn't perfect either and there are some things I didn't like about it, or indeed, about the series as a whole. The biggest problem I have is that the world Robb has created to represent New York some fifty years into the future, is just a bit too futuristic. There are hover cars, people take trips "off planet" to holiday resorts or business meetings, and naturally produced foodstuff has become so scarce that they cost a fortune. Given the speed with which the world truly progresses, I think J D Robb should have set the stories more like two hundred years into the future, so that the people would still have been recognisable with the same hopes and aspirations but the technology would be more believable.
It has to be said that the opening section of this book presents the reader with a highly romanticised vision of Ireland. Although the books are set 50 years into the future, Ireland it seems, has taken a step back into the previous century so we're presented with an American view of Ireland similar in many ways to that depicted in John Ford's 'The Quiet Man', with quaint little Irish people who, although they don't actually say 'Begorra' or 'Top of the morning', are definitely rooted more in Hollywood than reality.
This particular instalment doesn't really move the Eve, Roarke and friends story forward very much at all and the crime itself is quite pedestrian in many ways and much less violent than some others that have been perpetrated earlier in the series. However, I did enjoy the book and reacquainting myself with Eve and her friends. The processes of deduction are well written and believable and I'll certainly be keen to read the next in the series, 'Treachery in Death', due out next year.
If you feel tempted to try this series, I recommend beginning at the very start with 'Naked in Death' and working your way through the books because, after thirty plus books, there is a great deal of back story and development of the characters which helps readers understand why they react in the ways they do. But do be warned, this is a very addictive series.
Previously posted on Ciao under the same user ID.