Review: Betrayal 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, Janet Webb reviews #12, Betrayal in Death.

“Don’t get above your raisin,’” is a phrase common in the American South. How does it apply to the life and times of New York City billionaire Roarke and his wife Lieutenant Eve Dallas in the spring of 2059? A clue can be found in the title Betrayal in Death.

The feral, hungry youths—Roarke’s one time compatriots—of his mysterious Dublin past: do they feel abandoned by him, jealous of him? Eve is haunted by dreams of horrific abuse at the hands of her father: will she ever break free? 

A dead maid, raped and brutalized as she goes about her tasks in the luxurious Roarke Palace Hotel, is Eve’s newest victim. Roarke wishes anyone but Eve had the case.

“Eve. Turn the case over to someone else.”

“What?” She blinked herself back to the moment. “Why would I do that?”

“Don’t put yourself through this.” He touched her cheek. “It hurts you.”

He was being careful, she noted, not to mention her father. The beatings, the rapes, the terror she’d lived with until she was eight.

“They all hurt if you let them,” she said simply, and turned back to look at Darlene French. “I won’t turn her over to someone else, Roarke. I can’t She’s already mine.”

While Eve investigates Darlene French’s death, Roarke unfurls an auction for the ages—legendary actor Magda Lane has entrusted him to sell off all her priceless memorabilia. As Magda tells Eve: 

“Acting’s been good to me. I want to pass it on, while I’m still around and young enough to enjoy it all … It pleases me that a young actor or director might get his or her start from a break given in my name. That’s vanity.”

Everything Roarke does garners publicity. But wealth doesn’t make him immune to the pull of memory and its inexplicable demands on his heart. He is somewhat suspicious when a dead-man-walking comes into his office: Mick Connelly of “quick hands, and a quicker tongue.”

He looked damn good for a dead man. Mick Connelly wore a petal-green suit. Roarke remembered he’d always been one for color and flash. The cut and drape disguised most of the heft he’d added in the last years.

None of them had had any heft to speak of in their youth, as varying types of hunger had kept them bone lean.

Another murder-victim, like Darlene, is garroted by a thin, silver wire. Eve’s approach to crime-solving is to exhaustively explore every detail. Eve watches the horrific crime tapes and flags every element, from silver wires to the murderer’s choice of a wig. It’s Sly Yost, the hit man “for the elite” and a man on the FBI’s radar for decades. When Eve garners some success in tracking Yost down, the Feds try to wrest control of the investigation away from her. Good luck with that! But cooperation goes south when the FBI goes rogue—Yost escapes, and Whitney, Eve’s commander, goes ballistic.

“You’ve been trying to catch a whiff of Yost for years. My lieutenant managed to pin him down in a matter of days. You not only took advantage of the careful, successful investigation through my house, but then botched it.”

J.D. Robb is the conductor of a complicated symphony of seemingly unrelated incidents and deaths. More deaths and a world-class celebrity auction days away—Eve is stunned when she finally puts the pieces together and realizes that Roarke is the ultimate prize. Every victim is connected to one of his enterprises. Who would want Roarke distracted? Who would betray him for money and fame and the opportunity to take him and his persistent, talented wife off the scene? 

Having his childhood companion under his roof makes Roarke philosophical. He reminds Mick about “the one thing we would give up anything else to keep.” And now, decades later, Roarke has the answer he didn’t have back then, saying:

“Because I couldn’t see what it might be. Freedom, money, power, going one bloody week without having the old man pound on me. I couldn’t decide, so I didn’t say. But I know it now. Eve. She’s my one thing.”

Roarke and Eve are loners by nature, but not anymore: they are a rock-solid unit, each having the other’s back. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be betrayed by people from their past or in their present. Betrayal in Death is an illuminating addition to the In Death canon.


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Janet Webb aka @JanetETennessee moved from the San Francisco Bay to eastern Tennessee. Baseball is my passion: I follow the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Nashville Sounds (farm team of my beloved Oakland Athletics). Social media devotee. Stories on royals and politics catch my eye. Ottawa born. Grew up on the books of Helen MacInnes, Dick Francis, and Dorothy L. Sayers. I'm always looking for a great new mystery series. I also review at Heroes and Heartbreakers.

Read all of Janet Webb's articles for Criminal Element!


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