J.D. Robb






26th in the In Death Series
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2008
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

The very rich Thomas Anders is found strangled in his own bed, apparently by sex-play gone wrong. His widow says he was kinky, but no one among his friends believes it. He wasn't kinky with Ava, anyway. The loving couple lived separate sexual lives.

Lt Eve Dallas can't buy it. Eve's instinct is that love includes sex – like her own passionate marriage. Is she seeing a chink in the widow's story, or was Ava simply a traditional wife perfectly suited to her society position?

STRANGERS IN DEATH is an exploration of what's behind the curtains. Ava, her family and her friends, stand together on one side; Eve Dallas and her police team, with her powerful husband working in the shadows, attempt to pick them apart from the other side. How little people can know each other.

The In Death series is supposed to be set in the last half of the twenty-first century, but except for a few advances in technology – especially the amount of information that can be found about suspects on-line – life is fully recognizable to today's readers. I've seen more change in my lifetime than Robb projects into her mystery future. This makes it safe for readers who don't like science fiction.

Expertly written like the rest of the Eve Dallas series, STRANGERS IN DEATH will carry readers late into the night. It isn't just the mystery. Eve and her husband Rourke have a marriage that grows with the series. It gives balance to the workaholic Eve. I would despise a real-life boss like Eve, with her results-obsessed brutality toward her juniors, but for the purposes of the story I'm willing to go along with Rourke's view that her ass-kicking makes her sexy.

Since writing the above I have read NAKED IN DEATH, the first of the series, and got an extra perspective. By comparison, Eve's earliest emotions look raw and passionate next to the surface tough gal of STRANGERS IN DEATH. J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) would benefit by revisiting the passion with which she started writing this series. However, the hot pace and the twisty psychological analysis still make the series worth enjoying. I'm moving on to read the next paperback of the series -- that I happen to have in my to-be-reads. A few reservations about the current book aren’t stopping me.

May 2008


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