Review: Brotherhood 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, Angie Barry reviews #42, Brotherhood in Death.

Eve leaned forward, just a little. “You can kiss my ass.”

Color flooded Mandy's face. “How dare you. You can be sure I'll contact your superior and report your behavior.”

“That would be Whitney, Commander Jack. Cop Central.” Eve took out her badge. “Make a note of the name and number. I cleaned up some of your husband's blood in that ridiculous old house today—you think about that. You think about that and the fact that you can't find him. And you remember Dennis Mira ended up unconscious on the floor, shedding some of his own blood, because he tried to help. And you—”

“Eve,” Roarke murmured.

“No, not done. And you think about the fact a cop came to your door to inform you, to gather information in the investigation of your husband's whereabouts, and you stonewalled. As a cop I'm now looking right at you, right straight at you as my chief suspect. You got anything hiding in your closets, sister? I guarantee I'll find it.”

In the 42nd installment of her In Death series, J.D. Robb makes things decidedly personal for Lieutenant Eve Dallas. 

The initial victim—former Senator Edward Mira—is Dennis Mira's cousin. More than that, Dennis himself is injured when the Senator is snatched by unknown assailants, so of course Eve is going to do everything in her power to bring the culprits to justice. She simply can't stand to see the Miras, two of her closest friends, worry.

Unfortunately for everyone, it quickly becomes apparent that Senator Mira wasn't taken as a hostage for ransom. There's something much darker and extremely violent in the Senator's past to make someone—or several someones—torture him so viciously before hanging him from a chandelier with a sign reading JUSTICE IS SERVED around his throttled neck.

When another body of a similarly powerful, influential, older man is discovered with identical marks of torture, it's clear that something bigger is going on. Dallas has a team of serial killers on her hands. Killers Eve can't help but sympathize with when she uncovers their motivation.

“There was this scary painting of these men—and it was like they were all screaming and falling into like a fiery pit in front of this big, spooky-looking horror vid house that was burning, too. You know, like hell. They were sort of wearing devil's masks, and nothing else. It kind of looked like they were supposed to be devils…. I only saw it for a second, but it gave me nightmares…”

By all accounts, the Senator and his well-heeled friends were respected—if sometimes divisive—members of society. They all graduated from Yale, held prestigious positions, were all impossibly wealthy. Each had multiple marriages, several children under their belts, and were known to have played the field: during and after their marriages. All of which is unsurprising given the potent mix of money and power. 

The more Dallas digs, however, the more sordid details she uncovers. Several of the women who had been seeing Senator Mira in recent months had been in and out of rehab groups, participated in insomnia studies, had prescriptions for anxiety medications, and attended women's support groups. Which speaks of some shared trauma, some horrible experience they're all desperately trying to escape from. 

The full truth of what happened to these women, and why so many powerful men end up hanging from chandeliers, hits close to home for Eve—who still has to carry out her duty and see the law upheld, no matter the consequences.

It's a good thing she has such a strong support network around her: husband Roarke remains an ultimate dream guy, always ready with concern, quips, and vast resources to get the job done; Dennis and Charlotte Mira continue to be the best friends a gal could ask for; and the rest of Eve's team—the detectives, the techies, and the forensics lab—come through in the clinch.

Partner Peabody also provides plenty of much-needed levity amidst the brutality and darkness, whether it's as a sympathetic springboard for Eve's theories or as a chatty girlfriend breaking the tension:

“Could you forgive that? I mean, it's never going to happen, but hypothetically if, say, Roarke and I lost our minds for one wild night and had hot, crazed sex involving multiple orgasms, then came to our senses and begged your forgiveness…. Could you forgive us?”

Eve drove in silence a moment. “Well, it would be hard. It would be work, but marriage is work. So's partnership. I think I could…. After I boiled you in big vats to make it easier to peel the skin, very slowly and very carefully, off your bones while I danced to the music of your agonized screams. After I made you watch while I fashioned people suits out of your skins for a couple of sparring droids I would then beat into rubble, that I'd bury alongside your quivering, skinless bodies in unmarked graves. After that,” Eve said with a considering nod, “I think I could forgive you.”

“That's good to know. It's good to know the conditions. Except, I don't think you can fashion people suits because you don't know how to sew.”

“I'd learn. For something that important, I'd learn.”

Brotherhood in Death has something of a slow start as the groundwork is laid, but takes off around the mid-way mark and doesn't slow down until the epilogue. There's some mighty sickening stuff here, especially for the ladies in the audience, but it's handled in a way that's both unflinching and honest. 

By the end, it's hard not to sympathize with the killers. Or with Eve, who has to stand beside monsters regardless of her personal sentiments. 

You'll certainly never look at the word “brotherhood” the same way again.


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Angie Barry wrote her thesis on the socio-political commentary in zombie films. Meeting George Romero is high on her bucket list, and she has spent hours putting together her zombie apocalypse survival plan. She also writes horror and fantasy in her spare time, and watches far too much Doctor Who. Come find the angie bee at Tumblr.


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