Previous reviews are at Mack Pitches Up

Monday, March 1, 2010

Kindred in Death by J.D. Robb


Nora Roberts uses the name J.D. Robb when writing the In death series.

A sixteen-year-old girl is tortured and murdered. Her father, a decorated police officer, requests that the investigation be assigned to Lt. Eve Dallas. The killer left no physical evidence and the disks from the home security system are gone. How did the killer gain entry to the home of a police officer? Did the girl know the killer? Dallas assembles her usual team to find the killer. The pressure is on Dallas to close the case; an attack on one of their own cannot go unpunished.

This is the twenty-ninth in the In Death series and I've read every one. I used to say that they are my guilty pleasure but I've decided to come clean and say that I don't feel guilty at all. I enjoy these novels. They are a quick and entertaining read.

Are the books in this series formulaic? Sure, there are elements that you can pretty much count on: the case, some social event that Eve has to deal with that brings in her non-cop friends, several steamy sex scenes with Eve and husband Roark, and some good cop banter.

The police procedural aspects of the story are good, better than some more mainstream police procedurals. I read some complaints that the investigation in Kindred was too slow. Me, I appreciate that Roberts allowed the investigation to proceed at its own pace. Regardless that the In death stories are set in the future, most of the investigation in accomplished the old-fashioned way: viewing the crime scene, interviewing witnesses, re-interviewing witnesses, staring at the murder board. I liked the way Kindred started with no clues but but as the police began to identify details, links started to emerge. There is a good example of this involving shoes but I'm afraid it would be a spoiler.

Data mining for connections and electronic forensics also play a part in the stories but not in a SciFi way.

Kindred is dark and doesn't bring in much of the playful interaction with secondary characters like Mavis who Eve once arrested but is now a pop singing star with a baby and a flamboyant fashion designer husband. While I missed that aspect of the story as well, I liked the focus on the hunt for a sadistic killer and didn't mind the reduced light interludes.

Roberts' romance writer side comes out with Roark. He's unbelievably handsome, wealthy, brilliant, an illegal past that he gave up to be with Eve, a single name, and still has a bit of an Irish accent. He is also completely devoted to Eve and still carries a button that came off her jacket the first time they met. Though there have been twenty-nine books so far, only two years have passed since Eve and Roark met. I've read some complaints that there isn't much change in the characters but I disagree. Eve and Roark both have strong, assertive, independent natures and in the early book they often clashed. They both have dark back-stories that have been revealed gradually that have helped them understand each other. With Kindred, we see two people more at ease with each other, able to accept help, recognition of the strengths the other brings to the relationship.

The next in the series, Fantasy in Death, is available now. It involves computer gaming and I'm interested to see Roberts take on where the industry is heading.