Book Review: Shadows in Death by J. D. Robb
By Janet WebbSeptember 11, 2020
Roarke’s mysterious past is the heart of Shadows in Death. J.D. Robb alludes to this in her description of her 51st In Death book.
While Roarke is Eve’s center, in Shadows in Death he’s at the center of her case as well.
When the murder of a woman in Washington Square Park interrupts a night at the theater, it seems like homicide as usual. But then Roarke spots a shadow from his past in the crowd and the investigation shoots far from routine.
The person behind the murder of a young wife and mother, Galla Modesto, is never really in doubt. There’s something off about the attitude of her widower, Jorge Tween. As Peabody says to Eve, “He couldn’t even work up a tear. Not even the pretense of fighting tears.” Earlier Roarke spots Lorcan Cobbe, an Irish criminal who has claimed for years that he is Patrick Roarke’s true heir. Roarke pulls Eve aside to tell her to take “a great deal of care.” “Why?”
“He’d do me in a heartbeat if he could manage it, but he’d kill what matters to me and enjoy it all the more. A killer is what is he, and always has been.”
“And you saw him, at my crime scene.”
“I saw him. He made sure I did. Aye, he made certain of that, bloody bastard.”
He scanned the park again, but knew he wouldn’t see that face again. Not tonight.
“I’m telling you, I didn’t have to see him put the knife in that woman to know he did. He’ll be your man on this.”
“Why her? He couldn’t know you’d be here.”
“That’s just a nice twist of fate for him. Killing’s what he does, Eve, for pleasure and profit. He does his work primarily in Europe, but this wouldn’t be his first job in the States, I’d think. I don’t know of him coming, for business at least, to New York before, and I think I would. But he’s here now.”
Shadows in Death is a cat and mouse story where Eve Dallas and her team, aided by Roarke (her expert civilian consultant) and Summerset, painstakingly ferret out Lorcan Cobbe’s modus operandi. First, they need Tween’s confession. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Cher Reo slams Tween with an avalanche of evidence and a “hint of a southern drawl.”
“I understand your client communicated with this hit man, and paid him a million euros plus expenses to rip a knife through his wife, the mother of a four-year-old boy, from crotch to sternum. And aided said individual by giving him the details of where she would be at the time and place of her murder.”
Reo closed the file, folded her hands on it. “There’s more, but golly, that should do it.”
Faced with the prospect of a life behind bars, Tween gives up Lorcan Cobbe.
Cobbe is a nasty character: he tortures animals as well as humans. Eve reassures a woman who let Cobbe adopt an orphan cat.
“You saw what he wanted you to see. You aren’t to blame for what he did. What was he wearing?”
“Wearing? Ah, jeans, I think.”
“Close your eyes,” Eve advised. “Picture him. You spent time with him, you wanted to evaluate.”
Undall closed her eyes. “Jeans, good ones. I accepted the donation—we can use it—because I could see he could afford it. Carbelli jeans, good boots, both black. A silk T-shirt, an amber color, and a black leather jacket. Real leather. He had a wrist unit—sport style.”
Eve’s team takes that information and cross-references the part of the city where they suspect Cobbe has a blot-hole with the nearby luxury stores. Proof-positive that Eve’s exposure to Roarke’s magnificent wardrobe has permanently altered her detecting techniques. There’s an obligatory scene where Roarke advises Eve what to wear.
“If you’re going to wear indigo—which is a deep navy, not black—with the accent of gray-influenced celadon—”
“What the hell is celadon? It sounds contagious.”
“It’s green—in this case a gray-green. As is this jacket.” He pulled one out. “With its indigo buttons. Take off that shirt.”
“I don’t have time for closet sex, pal.”
He pulled it over her head himself, then pulled her in, just held her. “Wish we did.”
She held him in turn. “Me, too.”
These exchanges never fail to amuse although is Eve quite so unaware of fashion? Or is she engaging in an unspoken ritual that is important to both?
See Also: Review of Golden in Death by J. D. Robb
Good luck, Cobbe, getting close enough to Eve to kill her but Summerset, the father of Roarke’s heart, is vulnerable. After Cobbe taunts Summerset by throwing a tortured cat into his bailiwick, Eve suggests they have dinner: imagine a chorus of We are Family. Summerset even makes a strawberry shortcake.
“I want to thank you for that.”
“Dinner with Summerset when I know you wanted to get up here, push into the work.”
“You needed it, he needed it. And I got plenty out of it, including cake.” But Roarke took her hands, just held them. “He saved your life. That counts with me. We all know it counts with Cobbe, too. He needs to be more careful.”
Shadows in Death’s footprint extends beyond New York. Inspector Abernathy of Interpol joins the team: “he had one of those rich, somehow fruity voices of the British upper class. Eve and Roarke spar with the dapper British lawman who “knows of” Roarke from days gone by. Eve tries to run interference but really, Teach your gramma to suck eggs. Roarke is far too wily to be drawn into obvious traps: preserving his international man of mystery façade is child’s play.
We learn Roarke had the opportunity to kill Cobbe in the past but chose not to. Does he have regrets? The Roarke who is married to Eve Dallas thinks differently about crime and punishment than he once did. He realizes some prison sentences are worse than death.
Kudos to J.D. Robb, you won’t want to put down Shadows in Death.