Review: Calculated 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, Amber Keller reviews #36, Calculated in Death.

The 36th book in this series is a complicated whodunit embroiled in the world of big money and even bigger egos. Add in a little Hollywood by way of a much anticipated movie premiere, and you have the perfect formula for an Eve Dallas saga.

Set in a cold, futuristic November in Manhattan, it begins with the truly upsetting murder of a young accountant and, more importantly, mother and wife. The tragedy is only at the surface of what quickly becomes a very complicated plot, and Lieutenant Eve Dallas is determined to find out the how and why.

We have the usual elements in place, including Eve and Roarke’s amazing relationship. She spends many a night and day at her job, but Roarke—being the world’s most understanding spouse that he is—not only obliges, but even helps her occasionally. Eve’s commitment to her job, sometimes at the expense of her relationship, is something she’s aware of, as pointed out by her own thoughts here:

Add in the bitter cold, as 2060 seemed determined to go out clinging with its icy fingers, most people would be tucked up inside, in the warm.

Just as she’d been, curled up against Roarke, before the call.

That’s what you get for being a cop, she thought, or in Roarke’s case, for marrying one.

Eve’s issues with electronics have always been a laugh, especially when she’s put up against a computerized security system as she tries to enter a building, as evidenced here:

“Listen to me, you half-assed, chip-brained dipshit, this is official police business. Scan the badges and clear access. Otherwise I’ll have warrants issued immediately for the arrest of the building manager, the head of security, and the owners on the charge of obstruction of justice. And you’ll be in a junk pile by dawn.”

Once she’s finally in, it can’t just go smooth, now can it?

Eve shoved through the door, strode across the black marble lobby floor to the glossy white elevator doors flanked by two man-sized urns exploding with red spiky flowers.

Please wait here until Mr. and/or Mrs. Dickenson is notified of your arrival.

“Can it, compu-jerk.” She walked straight into the elevator, Peabody scurrying after her. “Penthouse B,” she ordered. “Give me any shit, I swear to God I’ll stun your motherboard.”

A lot of time is spent in this book having the detectives try to figure out why someone would murder a nice, family-oriented, clean-cut accountant. As the list of possible suspects widens, Eve and Peabody (one of my personal favorites) are tasked with looking at all angles to make sense of this strange crime—all the while the premiere for the movie about them is coming up. With something like a movie premiere comes the sparkle and glitz that Eve truly doesn’t care for, which makes for more fun moments between Eve and Roarke.

“Hey,” he called as she started out. “The wife says I have to rent a monkey suit for the premiere thing.”

“I don’t know, Feeney. Mira just told me she made her husband buy a new one.”

“What kind of crazy shit is this? Who needs to wear a monkey suit to watch a damn vid?”

“I’ve got to wear a dress, and stilts, and put crap all over my face. Don’t cry to me because you have to wear a tux.”

“Crazy shit,” he complained.

“Fucking A,” she agreed and went on her way.

Immortalized Eve, that exchange.

This book gets meaty in the middle with the complexities of the mystery. The killer continues to murder, escalating the crimes with increasing pleasure each time, making him a very dangerous predator. The list of suspects goes on for days, which takes a lot of time to narrow down and a lot of story to do it in.

Calculated in Death revolves around the world of finance and shady deals, unsavory characters and embittered family and exes, all of which make this a murky swim in a fast-moving river. But Eve always gets her man—both the bad guy and the delicious Irish husband—as we see in a very satisfying conclusion. Fans of the series won’t be disappointed.


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Amber Keller is a writer who delves into dark, speculative fiction, particularly horror and suspense/thrillers. You can find her work on her Amazon Author Page and she also features many short stories on Diary of a Writer. A member of the Horror Writers Association, she contributes to many websites and eMagazines and you can follow her on Twitter @akeller9.


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    There will be differences in tone, she thinks, with Ms Truss sometimes “a little overly pushy in personal interactions”.

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