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, Kristen Houghton reviews #22, Memory in Death.
If you’ve had a childhood as bad as Lt. Eve Dallas, the last person you want to see during the holiday season is the foster “mother” who made your life hell during the time you were in her “care.”
Eve’s got enough on her hands as the story opens, what with an office-party Santa falling out of a 36th-story window and killing an innocent bystander below. Ol’ Saint Nick was high on drugs when he took the header out the window.
Lt. Dallas of the New York Police and Security Department promptly finds and arrests the dealer and returns to her precinct where she is met by a woman named Trudy Lombard. This unwelcome Ghost of Christmas Past is the foster mother who terrorized an eight-year-old Eve back in Texas. The abuse continued until Eve escaped by running away.
“Oh, Lieutenant, there’s a woman here to see you.”
“She said it was personal.” He glanced around, frowned. “I don’t see her. I don’t think she left. I just got her some coffee a few minutes ago.”
“Lombard. Mrs. Lombard.”
“Well, if you round her up, let me know.”
Eve walked through the bullpen and to her office.
It was a stingy room with barely any space for a desk, a spare chair and the skinny pane of glass masquerading for a window. She didn’t have any trouble spotting the woman.
She sat in the spare chair sipping coffee from a recyclable cup. Her hair was reddish blonde, worn in a cap that had apparently exploded into curls. Her skin was very white, except for the pink on her cheeks, the pink on her lips. Her eyes were grass green
Middle fifties, Eve judged, filing it all away in a finger-snap. A big-boned body in a green dress with a black collar and cuffs. Black heels and the requisite enormous black purse sitting neatly on the floor by her feet.
She squealed when Eve came in, nearly spilled the coffee, then hastily set it aside.
“There you are!”
She leaped up, the pink in her face deepening, her eyes going bright. There was a twang to her voice, and something in it set Eve’s nerves on edge.
“Mrs. Lombard? You’re not allowed to wander around the offices.”
“I just wanted to see where you worked. Why, honey, just look at you.” She rushed forward, and would have had Eve in an embrace if Eve’s reflexes weren’t so quick.
“Hold it. Who are you? What do you want?”
Those green eyes widened, went swimming. “Why, honey, don’t you know me? I’m your mama!”
The foster “mama” from hell, Trudy from Texas, has made the trek to New York City along with her son Bobby and his ditzy-acting bride Zana. She’s here to renew acquaintances with Eve, who is now TV-famous due to having solved a particularly interesting case. Trudy has been following her former “daughter’s” career and has arrived with a blackmail scheme. She will go public with every unpleasant and illegal misstep Eve has ever taken as a child unless she is paid to keep her mouth shut. A rattled and distraught Eve still manages to make Trudy get out of her office.
Undeterred, Trudy goes off to see Eve’s husband, the wealthy Roarke, who brusquely uses his own method of threats in response to Trudy’s demand for money in exchange for keeping the ugly details of his wife's childhood a secret. Roarke tells her that the only compensation she will get from him is his not twisting her head off with his bare hands!
But Eve needs to face Trudy on her own terms and banish the ghost of her horrid Christmas past. Unfortunately, she never gets the chance. When Eve and Roarke go to see Trudy at her hotel so Eve can tell her in person that she no longer has any power over Eve—blackmail or otherwise—they find Trudy beaten to death in her hotel room.
But Eve’s a consummate cop, and she must put aside her own personal feelings to discover the truth of what really happened to Trudy. Her job is to gain justice for the dead, no matter who they are.
Eve uncovers a complex web of blackmail and lies involving women who were once subjected to Mama Lombard’s cruelty and blackmail that spans decades. The truth is that more than one person heartily wished the vicious Trudy dead.
This series is an excellent read and a good study in the vagaries of human nature. The interesting saga of Lieutenant Eve Dallas continues.
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She is the author of nine top-selling novels and is hard at work on a new series that features a paranormal investigator with distinct powers of her own. Houghton is also the author of two non-fiction books and numerous short stories which appear in popular horror anthologies.