Fiction: “Witness in Death” by J.D. Robb

Witness-in-Death-Robb-J-D-9780425173633So in this latest title of the In Death series, Eve Dallas and Roarke are enjoying the opening night performance of Witness for the Prosecution in Roarke’s newly-renovated Globe Theatre in New York. As a theatre snob (as evidenced by how I spell the word), I must state that it is not a theatre-in-the-round as the original Globe Theatre is, but then again, this novel is supposed to take place in 2051, so I guess the point is moot.

Well, ~SPOILER ALERT~: in the scene where the lead female character in the play stabs the protagonist, she accidentally uses a real knife and not the prop knife, and so Eve and Roarke actually witness a real-life stabbing.

Eve becomes the primary investigator for the case, and what I really enjoyed about it was that the book dealt with personalities that you see in professional theatre: the old-timer who oozes charm and poise, but hides a vicious temper; the leading man that seduces everything on two legs and under thirty; the understudy who’s desperate to get a speaking role. I appreciated —

Hold on for two seconds. I have to run out and see if the noise I’m hearing is weekend warriors banging on trash cans, or if a squirrel got stuck in the garage again. Be right back.

(plays hold music)

Weekend warriors. We’re okay. (I’m *so* glad I don’t have to play Wrestle the Squirrel. That game sucks.)

Where was I? Oh right; stomach contents. Anyway. As she always does, Eve solves the case, although this version of events (appropriately) had a more Poirot-esque explanation at the end (Seeing as how Witness for the Prosecution was written by Dame Agatha Christie, the fact that Eve gathered all the suspects and then did a Poirot-splanation was perfect).

Two things: the relationship between Eve and Roarke continues to be perfect and adorable. At one point, Eve and her compatriots at the station are discussing true love, and she realized that Roarke is always giving her things (because he has the money) and she doesn’t (because … no reason), so she goes home early and tries to make dinner. It is adorkable, because clearly Eve can’t even order on the AutoChef (no one cooks in the future!), and also, Roarke apparently has five million plates, and that is not an exaggeration. Summerset, the butler (and Eve’s nemesis) tries to help her, but she stubbornly refuses his assistance, as this is something “she needs to do on her own.” And he steps back and lets her, although he does offer a helpful hint (which I can’t remember right now, because even though I got up to check on ghost squirrels, I did not stop to pick up the book so I can quote it, because I am an idiot).

The second thing is a TRIGGER WARNING. [Please skip the next four paragraphs to skip the trigger warning.]

Usually, the In Death books can be gory, so that’s the typical warning I give. Not with this one. There are only two bodies, and their deaths are quite … normal? — one stabbing and one hanging. There’s not a lot of craziness when it comes to the manner of murder.

But a significant plot point in this version is adoption, and one of the main characters unwittingly enters into a brief sexual relationship with a man she learns later is her biological father. This strikes home for Eve during the investigation, because … and I’m going to briefly check back through the previous entries for these books, because in all the titles I’ve read, I don’t think I’ve discussed it … (hold music plays) No, I have not.

Eve herself is an orphan. She never knew what happened to her mother, but until she was 8, she was under the care of her alcoholic, abusive father. She was raped repeatedly as a child, and at the age of 8, she finally stabbed him and killed him after he broke her arm. So to learn that a daughter – even unwittingly – was having sex with her father … Eve takes that very seriously.

The good news (if there is any in this situation, and it’s not really a spoiler alert) is that the father figure in question for the suspect in the story was the murder victim, so he definitely got what was coming to him.

All in all, I still love this series. Eve cares about her job, her coworkers, her friends, and the small family she has so much that (as much as I hate to admit it) there were a couple of times I got choked up reading about it. I continue to recommend the In Death series, and I hope that they continue to be written for a very long time.

Also, I recently discovered that the movie version of Witness for the Prosecution is available on Netflix Insta!Watch.  So, as soon as I get caught up on some other stuff I have to write, Tie-In Number Two!!

Grade for Witness in Death: 3 stars

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