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

seductionAs I was finishing up The Witches, I realized I wanted something a little lighter for my next reading fare. While I was still reading silly little romance novels at home, that genre still isn’t something I feel comfortable reading in public – especially since I don’t read them on my Kindle app. (Or don’t, for the most part.) So I went with the next best thing to a cheesy romance novel: a crime novel with some romance! Also known as, the next book in the J.D. Robb Eve Dallas series.

This book’s villain is actually a team of two: two young, affluent white male geniuses who never got women in high school or college, so they turned to meeting women under pseudonyms online – and really obvious pseudonyms to the modern day reader; I’m talking about John Keats, or Byron. Poets from the Romantic period that people in 2058ish (when the series takes place) might not be as familiar with as we are right now. But they entice a lady via their online profiles, and then when they go out on their first date, they roofie the girls, and then, after they’ve consented (while incapacitated, so, no, consent wasn’t part of the discussion), they inject another drug into the girl’s bloodstream which causes her to have a heart attack mid-orgasm, and die.

Yet another reason why I’m still single.

No, but for real: many well-meaning people have said to me, “Alaina, why don’t you try online dating?” And while I was just as hesitant prior to reading Seduction in Death, this certainly doesn’t help. (Although at least I’d give myself enough credit to know when someone’s masquerading as John Keats or something to figure out they’re lyin’.)

Look, one of my formative influences is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And in episode 8 of season 1, “I Robot, You Jane,” Willow dates Malcolm, and the relationship is all online. Malcolm also turns out to be a demon, but that’s neither here nor there. This conversation between Buffy and Xander, however, completely explains my reservations:

Xander: I mean, sure he says he’s a high school student, but can say I’m a high school student.
Buffy: [duh] You are.
Xander: Okay, but I could also say I’m an elderly Dutch woman. Get me? I mean, who’s to say I’m not if I’m in the elderly Dutch chat room?
Buffy: I get your point. [realizes] I get your point! Oh, this guy could be anybody! He could be weird, or crazy, or old, or … he could be a circus freak! He’s probably a circus freak!
Xander: Yeah, I mean, we read about it all the time. Y’know, people meet on the ‘net, they talk, they get together, have dinner, a show … horrible ax murder.
Buffy: Willow … ax murdered, by a circus freak. Okay, okay, what do we do?

PS, this conversation? aired back in 1997. It’s stuck with me for almost oh god I just counted twenty years. Just because Dude posts a picture of himself, how do I know it’s really Dude? I have trust issues up the wazoo! There is no way I am going to be able to trust anyone, no matter how well-meaning they may be.

holy shit next year is the 20th goddamned anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

So anyway, Dear Well-Meaning Friends: stop suggesting I try online dating. Don’t quote to me the magnificent Carrie Fisher, who said “stay afraid, but do it anyway.” As much as I admire her (and god, do I ever), and aspire to her level of life-living, when it comes to that avenue, there are Things I (clearly) need to work on (probably via talk therapy), and until those Things have been Worked, online dating will be a no-go for me. And I’m okay with that.

oh god how will i be able to trust a stranger in talk therapy i’m probably going to assume he’s a cannibal and welp there goes that plan

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SO ANYWAY. (I probably should have waited to write this until I was a little less scatter-brained, but I am way behind on blog posts and Hamilton Tickets [who I’m puppy-sitting again] is asleep on my feet and not jumping on me, so I’m going to take advantage of the quiet and my awakeness to get at least one post done.)

There really isn’t much else to talk about plot-wise. If you read these books to keep up with the budding romance between Peabody and McNab, they ended the last book on the outs, but they’re back together by the end of this one. Eve and Roarke are still very tight and in love, and seriously, I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it until it’s no longer true: I love their relationship.

“Eve.”

“Don’t.” She held up a finger at Roarke’s quiet tone. “I don’t want to talk about that now. I don’t ever want to talk about it, but I especially don’t want to talk about it now. And if anybody had listened to me when I said she and McNab getting tangled was going to screw things up, we wouldn’t have to talk about it, would we?”

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you’re talking about it.”

“Oh, shut up.” [p. 73]

The only other dogears I made in the book all detail the villains’ attitude towards their victims. They’re rich, well-educated, assholey white boys who are killing women because women never paid them attention while they attended their genius schools. It’s exactly as horrifying and probably indicative of actual attitudes as you can imagine. And we’ve all had a rough week, month, year – even though J.D. Robb / Nora Roberts wrote these characters back in 2001, I don’t want to bring any more negativity into this week if I can help it.

Grade for Seduction in Death: 2.5 stars

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

Betrayal in DeathAll right, this one is going to be quick for a number of reasons. 1) No one is going to pay attention to anything anyone says about stuff other than David Bowie today; it’s just a fact. 2) I’m starting to write this at 9:30 at night, and I shouldn’t need to spend more than half an hour on it, because I have to go to bed soon. 3) It’s a J.D. Robb Eve Dallas/Roarke novel – even though they’ve all been different, they’re still all the same, y’know? 4) I rated it 3 stars, it’s not going to change anyone’s world.

HOWEVER. There was something that I did want to talk about with this, so let me get the plot out of the way, then I’m going to give you some clues, and by the end of this review, you’ll understand why this is probably my favorite of the In Death books so far.

There’s this fancy auction at one of Roarke’s hotels and a housemaid gets murdered. As it occurred in one of Roarke’s hotels, Roarke is going to take this one personally. Apparently there were a couple of other murders in buildings and other entities related to Roarke, so this is just the icing on a murder cake of awfulness. Eve investigates — because “conflict of interest” never really comes up when you’re the best cop on the force, regardless of the fact that you’re married to the guy who owns half of New York — and determines that Roarke is at the center of a conspiracy wherein someone is killing people close to him in order to have Roarke’s guard go down and the bad guy hopes to kill him.

Turns out it’s all a front so some other guys can rob the fancy auction that’s being held in Roarke’s hotel, but the idea of a hit on Roarke holds up for 80% of the book, which is way better than some other conspiracy books I’ve read in the past (I am soooooo looking at you, Patricia Cornwell and Laurell K. Hamilton!).

There’s also some hints from Roarke’s past back in Ireland and Summerset, Roarke’s valet who is way sturdier than Woodhouse and who also hates Eve which is really funny, anyway, Summerset gets some action in the book too. Oh, and Peabody and McNab kind of break up but get back together, if anyone cares about them.

OKAY. SO. The thing I loved about the book? The assassin. Why? Well –

Sly [the assassin] enjoyed traveling, and had several scrapbooks filled with postcards he picked up as he did so. Occasionally he would page through them, sipping a drink, smiling over the reminders of places he’d been, and the trinkets he’d collected there.

The meal he had in Paris that summer after he’d dispatched the electronic’s manufacturer, the view from his hotel window on a rainy evening in Prague before he’d strangled the American envoy.

Good memories. [p. 36]

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Eve and Peabody’s attempt to track Sly also sounds very … familiar.

“Well, the profile indicates he sees himself as a highly successful businessman, one of impeccable taste. He likes fine things, and he can afford the best.”

“[…] He’s booked or bought himself an estate somewhere, with a good wine cellar and all the trimmings…”

“[A lead] for us is music. He knew the Mozart thing playing. Called it by name, hummed along with it. Peabody, I want you to start checking out the high-dollar season tickets to the symphony, the ballet, the opera, all the highbrow stuff.” [p. 135]

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And then, there’s all of — well, this.

He’d prepared himself a delightful veal picatta for dinner. Often after a job he liked to putter around his kitchen, enjoying the scents and textures of cooking, sipping an appropriate wine as his sauces thickened. [p.160]

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And finally, the pièce de résistance:

The kitchen was directly off to the right, and polished to a gleam. She pursed her lips as she poked into the tank-sized refrigerator and found it fully stocked, as was the AutoChef. Both ran to expensive food, heavy on the red meat.

Interesting, [Eve] thought, and imagined [Sly] Yost standing over the huge stove, delicately sauteing something. Listening to music, classical or opera, as he worked. Wearing the snow-white butcher’s apron she found hanging, pressed and pristine, in a narrow closet.

He’d cook for himself, an efficient and self-sufficient man. […] He’d set his table with the fancy china in the cupboard, light his candles, and savor his solitary meal.

A man of refined tastes, who liked to kill. [p. 195]

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Seriously, J.D. Robb is fucking with me with this one, isn’t she? Isn’t she??!

Grade for Betrayal in Death: 3 stars (the extra star is because Everything is Hannibal and Everything Hurts.)

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

judgmentI don’t know if I’m ever going to get used to this hour-long lunch break business.  For the past forever, “lunch” has been something hurriedly scarfed down between customer interactions or manager shifts, usually in a darkened corner of the work luncheonette, eyes constantly shifting around looking for the next interruption, the same way a squirrel searches its surroundings for predators while it’s gnawing on his acorn. So the fact that I get a legally-mandated break for lunch that must be sixty minutes in duration and – here’s the best part – people feel bad when they interrupt me while I’m on it – this is an awesome thing. Even awesomer? The fact that I bring a notebook and write during my lunch break (because I’m not allowed to use my government-issued computer for anything but work, but that’s okay – I’ve forgotten the feel of writing long-hand). I can’t wait until my reviews are caught up and I can work on my novel.

I managed to finish Judgment in Death just under the wire on June 30, so I have now finished three books in the month of June. And before I get into the meat of this, let’s acknowledge that we are at the halfway part of 2014, and I had set myself some goals for this year, so: how am I doing?

If y’all recall, 2013 was a shitty year in terms of quantity: I only finished 27 books last year. My primary goal for 2014 was to read 30 books by December 31, 2014, or at worst, at least 28 – I do not want to keep declining in the number of books I read. That is a sad, horrible, awful trend and it should not be allowed to continue.

By my count, Judgment in Death is the sixteenth book I have finished reading year-to-date. By this time last year, I had only read fourteen books, so so far I’m two books up on myself from last year. In addition, my sixteenth book I read last year was Dear Old Dead, which I finished at the end of July, so I’m also a month ahead of where I was last year. I estimate that I am now on track to hit thirty books by the end of the year! Huzzah!

Also, according to WordPress, this is the 200th post I’ve made since That’s What She Read’s inception. Please note, that does not mean that Judgment in Death is the 200th book I’ve read since this website’s inception – because yes, I went back and counted. Not counting any “I Wants This!” posts, end-of-year recaps, or any pre-reviews I’ve done as part of The Collaborators! series with Erica, or even Jen’s book review or the Game of Thrones Project posts, this is my … well, I’m now typing this entry from my longhand scrawl from yesterday’s lunch break, but I”m currently at my parents’ house for the Fourth of July so I don’t have my numbers with me. As much as I love to be accurate, I’m going to have to guess that this book is around #186 or so.

Fear not – I have a very special book planned for #200.

(And no, Sarah, because I’m sure you’re gonna say something, it is not the novelization of Hobo With a Shotgun. Shut up.)

OKAY, so, let me talk about the book.

Judgment in Death is the eleventh book in the In Death series, and I believe this book gives us our first real fight between Eve and Roarke. We’ve seen minor skirmishes before, but in this book, they go entire chapters without talking.

As per usual, the case that Eve lands ends up involving Roarke. Unlike previous cases, however, Roarke becomes more involved than merely owning the building where the murder occurred (although that’s how it starts). A cop was working undercover at Roarke’s club, and in the investigation, Eve discovers there may be a tie to one of Roarke’s old business partners – one he had broken ties with over ten years ago when Roarke decided to become legitimate. Eve tells Roarke how she wants to go after the guy (and it’s been a week since I finished reading the book and can no longer recall the name of the character, and I’m just lazy enough that even though I can see the book in the chair across from me, I’m not going to get up to double-check). Roarke “allows” her to go after him, but not without telling him exactly how she intends to go after him, and warns her to involve him every step of the way, because he knows how dangerous this guy is.

Eve, being Eve, does nothing of the sort – not to piss Roarke off, but to keep him un-involved out of concern for his safety. When Roarke finds out that not only did she interrogate the guy without his knowledge, but then was also threatened by the guy, well – he gets right pissed.

Because the murder victim was a cop, Internal Affairs gets involved. We meet Webster, who apparently had a one-night stand with Eve pre-Roarke, and Webster keeps trying to help Eve in her case without trying to look like an IA cop giving information. There’s a fight between Roarke and Webster over Eve which seems kind of superfluous, but it make sense in the cadence of the plot.

In the end, the case o’ the week (as it were) doesn’t really matter – the main issue Eve is dealing with is still trying to figure out how to be a married woman. Marriage is a difficult partnership for Eve, only because she’s lived practically her entire life alone. But she loves Roarke and strives to be a good partner for him, and the fight they have only reinforces their union.

Oh, and they catch the bad guy, too.

Grade for Judgment in Death: 2 stars

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

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

Written August 30, 2012; finished much earlier than that
An Actual Text Sent From Me To The [former] Roommate: I’m in ur apartment, stealing ur internets and watching ur Netflix

You guys, this has been kind of painful! I guess I didn’t realize how connected I was before the WiFi and Jeremy III IV* were unavailable. To show what happens when you get your news from Twitter (and not from CNN on Twitter, either), I thought Pussy Riot was a new rapper from SoCal, and it took me an entire afternoon to realize that Todd Akin really is a shithead who —

Actually, I can’t say what I would like to do to Todd Akin, because by writing them down, I could be found by the government and then thrown in jail for threatening a government official. But anyway, I did not realize that Todd Akin was a Real Thing That Just Happened.

Anyway. While I’ve been waiting to figure out why my cable doesn’t work (and also, why I can’t get WiFi even when the Landlady says I should have it), I’ve finished re-watching Arrested Development (again), half of Daria, and then I have one more episode and I’ll be on to season two of Community. I’ve also finished reading three two three books.**

[[*The Roommate switched out Jeremy II and named her new one Jeremy III. Since mine’s not set up yet, mine must be named Jeremy the IV. And if that box needs replacement, its name shall be Jeremy the IV, Part II. Or, possibly, Jeremy, Episode IV: A New Hope. I haven’t decided which works better, or which version of geek I am more.]]

[[**When I was originally writing that paragraph, I got to there and then realized that I had finished the review of Up in the Air but never posted it, so I distracted myself into doing that. When I came back a couple of days later to finish this (September 3, 2012), I was going to change it to two, but then I realized that I’m only writing this now because I finished another book, so I’m back to a backlog of three reviews.]]

Loyalty in Death was one of the last books I bought, back when I proclaimed that I had to stop buying so many damned books. I had previously purchased, over the past decade or so, the first nine Eve Dallas novels, and managed to read them in order until I got to this title. And since going to the library for it is apparently not an option for me, when I found it at Bull Moose (for three bucks!), I said “eh” and bought it anyway.

Eve and her aide, Delia Peabody — which I can’t decide if I pronounce like the Boston suburb [PEE-buh-dee] or like the bespectacled canine historian [pee-BAW-dee] — are called to what appears to be a manslaughter case: a dude has literally been drilled into a wall by his mistress, after she found photos of him cheating on her. She admits to the murder, takes a plea for unintentional manslaughter, and that should be that. But Eve smells murder, and so she continues to look for clues.

Meanwhile, there is a group of renegade bombers who call themselves Cassandra, intent on blowing up key locations in New York, in rebellion against the government and society and who knows what else. (A downside to this whole no-internet thing? Sometimes I sit on reviews for at least a week before I get up the gumption to sit down and write, which means that sometimes I forget key plot points and I’m entirely too lazy to get off the couch to go look shit up. As I’ve said before: no one’s got a gun to your head forcing you to read this; you can hit the back button at any time.) (Although if someone does have a gun to your head, forcing you to read this, the key phrase is “I bought some cookies at the Safeway.” Also, who would force you to read MY blog? If it’s a dude, I’m single…)

Okay so anyway. Eve gets singled out by Cassandra as the cop they’re going to test or whatever, and of course there is a connection to Roarke, because he’s a big hotshot capitalist and she’s married to him, and there’s a chance that Radio City Music Hall was almost bombed and it keeps getting worse, and then OH WAIT it turns out — as all pulp fiction novels with two plots, especially those starring Johnny Gossamer, turn out — THAT BOTH CASES ARE THE SAME FUCKING CASE.

Also, Peabody finally gets into bed with McNab, the IT detective with whom they’ve had Dave-and-Maddie-esque bickering for over two books’ worth. Y’know, if you guys are totally into the whole Peabody love life thing.

There’s not a whole lot to talk about the plot — although it is important to note that this was written back in 1999, and the whole bombing of New York landmarks felt a little hairy to me as I read, and even hairier when Eve’s trying to find the last bomb and sends teams to the Statue of Liberty, the Twin Towers, and the Empire State Building.

There are a lot of series that, as I read them, I may ask myself why I keep reading them. The Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter and Kay Scarpetta series spring to mind. But as ‘low-rent’ as some people may consider the Eve Dallas novels, for one reason or another (I know so many people who have read dozens of Nora Roberts titles, but can’t get into these – whereas for me, it’s the futurism and violence that catches my interest over standard romances), I will continue to read them as long as they remain true to the characters. And I truly enjoy the relationship between Dallas and Roarke — it’s one of the realer? Realest? Those are real words? Really? Anyway, one of the more real relationships I think I’ve found in series ‘literature.’

The first target of Cassandra is an abandoned warehouse that, conveniently, is owned by Roarke. Eve arrives on scene just before the building’s blown; Roarke arrives barely after the smoke has cleared, and he’s pissed. Eve, still not used to being in a relationship (or even in love — this takes place almost a year after she meets Roarke for the first time), assumes he’s pissed about his building. It takes her almost five minutes for her to realize that he’s pissed she was called to the site and just barely missed being blown up.

Why does that make me melt? Because apparently, one of my bulletproof kinks (as some people on them internets call them) is for women oblivious to when men are in love with them.

Holly Golightly and Paul Varjak — the movie version only, of course. Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. The first half of Bleak House, where Esther has no realization that Jarndyce loves her (which is where I stopped watching — and after learning there’s spontaneous human combustion in it, I may have to pick that up again in the near future). I’m sure there are more examples; it’s a trope I adore (and one I imagine I belong to as well). So when Eve doesn’t realize that Roarke’s pissed that he’s not always able to protect her from harm, and in some ways, he’s responsible for her being put in harm’s way … I believe the phrase they use in forums is GUH.

I can’t believe I’ve written twelve hundred words about this … Anyway. Eve and Roarke are adorable together, and Peabody is so enamored of both Roarke and the relationship between Eve and Roarke that she becomes adorkable too. Throw in what could be an oblique reference to one of the best movies of all time, and we have ourselves a favorite passage:

Even as she hissed at him, he lowered his head and touched his lips to the cut. “All better,” he said with a grin as the door opened.

Peabody gaped, flushed, then stammered out, “Excuse me.”

“Just leaving,” Roarke said, patting the bandage back in place while Eve ground her teeth. “How did you come through this morning’s excitement, Peabody?”

“Okay, it was … well, actually.” She cleared her throat and shot him a hopeful glance. “I got this little nick right here.” She rubbed her finger at her jawline, heart fluttering pleasantly when he smiled at her. [94]

Also, I think I’ve never pointed out before how Eve has a way with words. And anyway, if I had? Here are some more examples of her wit.

“Do you know anyone named Cassandra?”

Now [Roarke] smiled. “I’m sure I do. But I sincerely doubt this is a former lover’s jealous snit.”

“They had to get the name from somewhere.”

He moved his shoulders. “Maybe from the Greeks.”

“Greek Town isn’t anywhere near that sector.”

For a moment he just stared at her; then he laughed. “The ancient Greeks, Lieutenant.” [93]

I swear, that’s something that I would do. Or have done. One of the two.

In yet more references to movies I have definitely seen, this one made me very proud of Roarke:

She crossed to him, let their fingers link. “Hi. What are you watching?”

Dark Victory. Bette Davis. She goes blind and dies in the end.”

“Well, that sucks.” [17]

Oh, sorry — should I have said *SPOILER ALERT*?

So, at the end of this very long, slightly rambly entry, I do have some good news. Good News #1: I am now only two entries behind. Good News #2: the next post will be shorter, because it’s for a book that I will never, ever, NEVER read again. Good News #3: The next few J.D. Robb titles I have to read, I own, so no spending money for me!

Bad News? Um … now I have to find another Lunch Break Book.

Grade for Loyalty in Death: 3 stars

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

Conspiracy in Death picks up slightly after the end of Holiday in Death. Lt. Eve Dallas is called to the scene of a homicide: a harmless homeless man has been murdered by having his heart removed. As in, he was anesthetized and then his heart was surgically removed. As Eve digs deeper into the case (and another couple of like homicides begin to stack up), she finds ties to medical centers and important doctors across the globe.

Throwing another wrinkle into her case is an altercation between herself and a subordinate from another precinct, Officer Ellen Bowers. Bowers remembers Eve from their days at the police academy (and unfortunately, it’s nothing like the Steve Guttenberg movies), and her memory is horrible. She assumes (wrongly) that Eve ascended up the ladder so quickly due to putting out and sexing up, which is so far from the truth it’s almost laughable. But Bowers is quick to file complaints (especially when Eve insults her admittedly awful crime scene perservation), so Eve gets dragged into an I.A. investigation.

When Officer Bowers ends up dead, Eve’s superiors have no choice but to suspend her. And this is the meat of the novel. Eve has spent her entire life working towards being a cop, and that’s how she primarily identifies herself. The suspension, however temporary and/or unfounded, almost destroys her. Her husband, Roarke, supports her through the ordeal, both emotionally and professionally. Once Eve snaps out of it, she uses his illegal computers to solve the case and feed information to her friends who have taken it over.

As the series continues, I’m struck and impressed by the relationships that Eve has developed. In the first book, she met Roarke and had a friend named Mavis. Now, her circle has grown to include a psychiatrist for a friend; Peabody, her aide; Mavis’s long-time boyfriend, Leonardo; Roarke’s butler, Summerset (although she hates him just to be spiteful, sometimes); and Nadine Furst, a reporter. Where the first couple of books in the series were all about the violence and the procedure and the hard-boiled cop detective (which is, again, why I picked this up as opposed to anything else on my shelves: keep the violence coming!), J.D. Robb has truly given Eve a world of people to interact with, and it makes her characterization and her interactions that much richer.

For instance, even while in the midst of a murder investigation and a suspension, Eve and Roarke are still able to function as a married couple:

“Man, I would self-terminate before I lived in a place like this. I bet all their furniture matches, and they’ve got cute little cows or something sitting around the kitchen.”

“Kittens. Fifty says it’s kittens.”

“Bet. Cows are sillier. It’s going to be cows.”  […]

[Eve] glanced over, lifted a brow as Roarke strolled in carrying a tray loaded with cups, plates. Coffee and cookies, she mused, then struggled with a scowl as she noticed the cream pitcher in the shape of a cheerful white kitten.

The man never lost a damn bet. [276, 282]

And here’s something that I truly identified with, and let me explain how. I’ve described myself in my “real job” as being low-level management for a local-yet-internationally-known retailer. Well, this past week, my major responsibility has been to complete the year-end appraisals for my directly-reporting employees — all eighteen of them. And while I love my company and the people I work with, there are some issues that occur every day that makes me want to pull my hair out.

Like, for instance: we’re still running Office 2000. REALLY? ARE YOU SERIOUS? WE’RE A BILLION-DOLLAR COMPANY (oh crap, that narrows the field of possible employers down to, like, three) AND WE CAN’T EVEN UPGRADE TO OFFICE 2003? REALLY. YOU’RE KILLING ME, YOU GUYS.

So imagine my frustration when, in the middle of a very involved year-end, we have a power surge. And then it takes twenty minutes for the computer to a) turn back on and b) be fast enough for me to work at it comfortably.

Hence, this passage seemed like it was written just for me:

“When you’re done with this, I want you to go find a hammer.”

Peabody had taken out her memo book, nearly plugged in the order, when she stopped, frowned at Eve. “Sir? A hammer?”

“That’s right. A really big, heavy hammer. Then you take it into my office and beat that fucking useless excuse for a data spitter on my desk to dust.”

“Ah. […] As an alternative to that action, Lieutenant, I could call maintenance.”

“Fine, you do that, and you tell them that at the very first opportunity, I’m coming down there and killing all of them. Mass murder. And after they’re all dead, I’m going to kick the bodies around, dance on top of them, and sing a happy song. No jury will convict me.” [30]

I already have a spork in a glass case on my desk, for use in case of emergency. I don’t think my bosses want me to carry around a sledgehammer, too. And this is why, when I win the lottery, after paying off my debts, the debts of my parents, buying a house, and maybe investing some for travel or something, I’m donating a large portion to both the University of Southern Maine and my employer. The money for USM will be wrapped up so tightly in codicils that they can ONLY spend the money on books for the library, because I’ll be damned if I can find a single book in that monstrosity that was published after 1984. And the money for my employer will be to UPGRADE THE SYSTEMS.

Grade for Conspiracy in Death: 2.5 stars

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

J.D. Robb is the pseudonym for Nora Roberts when she writes her futuristic cop novels. Now, I have never read a Nora Roberts Nora Roberts, and I’m not sure I want to – when I go for a ‘romance’ novel, it’s usually of the Regency historical type, fraught with historical errors and anachronisms. So I’m not sure how Ms. Roberts writes one of her contemporary novels — according to her Wikipedia site, she focuses on trilogies of families and strong characters. I want to say that occasionally there’s a supernatural element in some? Maybe? I dunno.

Regardless, you won’t get any of that in a J.D. Robb. Set in the future (around 2050 or so), the main character is Lieutenant Eve Dallas, of the New York Security and Police Department. She’s tough as nails, curses like a sailor on occasion, and rarely lets people in. Holiday in Death is the seventh title in the series, so some background: Eve’s husband is Roarke — just Roarke, we’re not sure if it’s a first or a last name, and what the other one is –, and they met when she was investigating him for murder (Book #1, Naked in Death). They got married in between the third and fourth titles (Immortal… and Rapture…, respectively). Roarke is also super-rich. Like, he owns half of the planet, rich. If he had the chance to be evil, he’d be Lex Luthor (I’m guessing – my love for the Green Lantern and Wonder Woman aside, I was always more of a Marvel Girl myself).

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