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, Doreen Sheridan reviews #9, Loyalty in Death.
Despite my best efforts, I was unable to get my hands on the 8th book of the series in time, so I can make no grand pronouncements on this third “arc” of the In Death series. But I did very much enjoy reading Loyalty in Death on its own, especially since the scope of the homicides in this one go far beyond simple, or even serial, murder and explode into terrorism.
It starts simply enough. Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the New York Police and Security Department is assigned to investigate the death of an electronics tycoon at the hands of his steely-eyed lover, who called in the crime herself. Lisbeth Cooke is convinced that J. C. Branson was cheating on her and killed him in a fit of rage when he refused to admit it upon being confronted with the news. The jaded prosecuting attorney is happy to plead rich, connected Lisbeth down to manslaughter, which doesn’t sit well with Eve and her team.
But our heroes of the NYPSD soon have bigger fish to fry, as a collective calling itself Cassandra targets Eve as their only worthy adversary, warning her of bombs they’ve planted (in her billionaire husband Roarke’s properties, no less) across New York City. It seems that a terrorist organization known as Apollo—long thought defunct after the assassination of its leadership cabal following devastating attacks on Washington, D.C. decades ago—is not, perhaps, as dead as it seems. Cassandra claims to be carrying on Apollo’s legacy and will issue its proclamations only to Eve. Eve must now race to save not just a handful of prospective victims from a twisted killer, but an entire city.
Loyalty in Death is a terrific love letter to the Big Apple, with much of the present reality of the city reflected even in the futuristic setting of the novels. When Eve’s aide, Officer Delia Peabody, discovers that her younger brother Zeke has arrived for a visit, Eve gives her time off to show her brother the sights:
They rode to the top of the Empire State Building, stood in the freezing, bitter wind until the tips of her ears went numb. And his pale gray eyes glowed with the wonder of it. They toured the Met, gawked at the storefronts along Fifth, stared up at the tourist blimps, bumped along the sky glides, and gnawed on stale pretzels he’d insisted on buying from a glide-cart.
Only deep and abiding love could have convinced her to agree to skidding over the ice rink at Rockefeller Center when her calf muscles were already weeping from three hours of urban hiking.
But he made her remember what it was to be stunned by the city, to see all it had to offer. She realized, watching him be awed, time after time, that she’d forgotten to look.
Love of a different kind is also showcased in this novel. Zeke didn’t just come to the city to visit his sister. He picked up a commission for woodwork that was, perhaps, made more enticing by his growing feelings for the married woman who hired him for the job. As he spends more time with Clarissa, he begins to fantasize about rescuing her from the prison that her world has become, of running from her husband and finding refuge back in Arizona with his family:
There was no question his family would welcome her. Even if it hadn’t been part of the Free-Age dogma to offer shelter and comfort to any in need, without questions or strings, he knew the hearts of those who had raised him. They were open and generous.
Still, he knew his mother’s eyes were sharp, and would see his feelings no matter what he did to hide them. And he knew she wouldn’t approve of his romantic involvement with Clarissa.
He could hear his mother’s counsel as if she were in the room with him now.
She has to heal, Zeke. She needs the time and space to find what’s inside her. No one can know their heart when it’s so badly injured. Step aside and be her friend. You’ve no right to more than that. Neither does she.
Fans will also be pleased that the usual Eve/Roarke dynamic continues strongly in this novel, with lots of fights and steamy make-up sex. As always, I was more interested in the complex worldbuilding and solid police procedural storytelling than in their romantic shenanigans.
The terrorist twist was, perhaps, a natural development for the series given the setting, and I think Ms. Robb handled it all really well. Aside from enjoying Ms. Robb’s condemnation of terrorist groups, I was also impressed by her examination of the thirst for chaos and personal power that births them—especially since this book preceded the 9/11 attacks by two years and yet has scenes that are heartbreakingly reminiscent of that terrible time.
Loyalty in Death is another solid installment in the series, when so many others would have begun to flag at this point. I can’t wait to read more!
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Doreen Sheridan is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. She
microblogs on Twitter @dvaleris.
Read all posts by Doreen Sheridan for Criminal Element.