Thu
Dec 22 2016 1:00pm

Review: Judgment in Death by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Leigh Neely reviews #11, Judgment in Death.

The In Death series by J.D. Robb is one of my favorites. She’s one of the few writers whose books I still buy in hardback. This particular book, Judgment in Death, is one of my favorites. It has so many elements of the series that I like, I may not have room to write about everything.

Book 11 is relatively early in the series, where Robb lets time go by in days and weeks, which makes it all the more enjoyable. It’s the spring of 2059, and flowers aren’t the only thing popping up.

Delia Peabody is now Eve’s trusted aide and an overachieving, spit-and-polish cop in a uniform. The book opens with a grisly murder—one of the worst Eve has faced, especially since the victim is an NYPSD detective—and begins one of Eve’s most complicated cases.

The stories involving Roarke’s past are always fascinating, too. In Judgment in Death, we get a glimpse of one of Roarke's old business associates—a truly bad man named Max Ricker. Though Roarke had previously done business with him, this guy is a mean son of a … well, you get it.

While dealing with the murder and someone from Roarke’s past, Eve also has to learn more about the “rules of marriage.” Robb has done a masterful job of incorporating the unfortunate pasts of her hero and heroine to add a few more conflicts to their relationship. Since the role models of their childhoods were more than a bit unpleasant, they’re learning, in their own way, how to maintain a good marriage. It just makes the growth of their love more intense and interesting.

Now, someone from Eve’s past also enters the picture: Webster, an internal affairs cop who once had a fling with Eve. It seems Webster still carries some feelings, though Eve never did. Not only does he complicate Eve’s murder investigation, he also causes friction between Eve and Roarke.

Peabody and her main squeeze Ian McNab are also getting closer, which makes Even groan. I love it when McNab calls her She-Body. It’s so romantic.

The investigation intensifies when Eve has her first meeting with Max Ricker. Few people write a bad guy better than J.D. Robb:

Eve studied the house as they walked through. Here, the money all but dripped. It didn’t have the class of Roarke’s place where the mood was rich but somehow homey, with its polished woods and muted colors. Ricker went for the modern and the garish, surrounding himself with eye-searing colors, too much fabric, and not enough taste.

Everything was sharp-edged an accented by what she now concluded was his signature silver … Ricker sat in one of the chairs, sipping something violently pink out of a long, slim tube. He got graciously to his feet, smiled.

“Ah, Eve Dallas. We meet at last. Welcome to my humble home. What can we offer you in the way of refreshment?”

“Nothing.”

“Oh, well, you’ve only to ask if you change your mind.”

There was a roundness to his voice, something that reminded her of the dialogue in some of the old black-and-white videos Roarke liked to watch. “That will be all, Marta.”

“Yes, Mr. Ricker.” She backed out of the room, closing the doors behind her.

“Eve Dallas,” he said again, eyes sparkling as he gestured to a chair. “This is absolutely delightful. May I call you Eve?”

“No.”

The sparkle turned cold, silver sleet now, even as he let out a hearty laugh. “Pity. Lieutenant, then. Won’t you sit down? I have to admit to some curiosity about the woman who married one of my old … I was going to say protégés,” he said as he sat again. “But I’m sure Roarke would object to the term. So I’ll say one of my former associates. I had hoped he would accompany you today.”

“He has no business here, or with you.”

The line is drawn, and Eve makes an enemy quickly. Eve knows Ricker has some part in the murders, but he has always escaped prosecution before. It won’t be easy to connect him, but, like a tenacious bulldog, Eve Dallas doesn’t let go easily. As usual, everything becomes a tangled mess that Eve must pull apart like strands of old Christmas lights.

Eve spent the rest of the day backtracking, reading data until her eyes stung. She went back to Patsy Kohli under the pretext of a follow-up. After twenty minutes, she was convinced the grieving widow had known nothing.

That’s what her gut told her, Eve thought as she got into her car again. She just wasn’t sure she could trust her gut anymore.

She had a new list working in her brain, the one McNab was shooting her every few hours. A line of cops he’d cleared, another line of those who remained suspect. 

Because Central was closer, she slipped back to her office there and ran a series of probabilities using the new data and the new list of names.

No matter how she juggled it, she found nothing conclusive. And would find nothing, she thought, until she dug deeper. They would have to pick the lives of these cops apart, like crows on fleshy bones. Every time they cleared one, it would put more weight on the rest.

When Eve went to see Ricker without telling Roarke, she knew it would cause a rift in their relationship that not only hurt her, but also confused her. When she visits her good friend Mavis—which is always fun because the two women couldn’t be more different—she gets sage advice about which part of the body men do most of their thinking with. Oddly enough, it helps her understand Roarke’s anger. Good times.

As the investigation goes on, the tensions—and the murders—get worse. The tensions at home are tough to deal with, and cops continue to die. IAB interferes, and Eve has a lot of people thinking the world might be a better place without her.

Though much of what Eve does is obvious police procedural material, Robb has a way of making every case completely different and intensely interesting. It’s another good story from the talented J.D. Robb, and it’ll leave you tense until almost the last page.

Though this book could stand alone as its own story, I strongly suggest you start this series at the beginning so you can get to know all the main characters well. Trust me, they’ll become as real to you as the friends you talk to every day.

 

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Leigh Neely is managing editor of two regional magazines in Central Florida. When she’s not working or reading, she’s writing fiction with her co-author, Jan Powell. Awakening Magic by Neely Powell is their latest release. When she not busy with things related to writing, she’s visit her grandchildren.

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