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, Allison Brennan reviews #38, Concealed in Death.
J.D. Robb has a knack for first lines that immediately draw you into the story:
- “Killing was easier than I thought it could be, and a lot more rewarding.” (Obsession in Death)
- “Men, Sima thought, can’t live with them, can’t beat them to death with a nine iron.” (Festive in Death)
- “A late-night urge for an orange fizzy saved Nixie’s life.” (Survivor in Death)
And, of course, the book I’m talking about today—the opening line of Concealed in Death totally rocks: “Neglect could kill a building brick by brick.” Neglect kills not just buildings, but people, and as the story unfolds, we see how this theme is played out in multiple ways.
Concealed in Death is one of the rare J.D. Robb books that opens in the point-of-view of Roarke, the husband of Lt. Eve Dallas (and the wealthiest man on- or off-planet). Most of the time, the books open with the killer, a victim, or Eve at the crime scene. Already, this subtle change of focus tells the reader that Roarke will play a bigger-than-usual role in the story.
Roarke bought a decrepit building in “what had once been Hell’s Kitchen” with the goal of gutting and renovating it. Unlike someone with less vision, Roarke—staying true to character—sees the potential of blending the old with the new. So, instead of taking a wrecking ball to the structure, he wants to preserve what he can and build from there. Roarke's project manager convinces him that it’s good luck if he, the owner, strikes the sledgehammer first on a wall that will be removed.
And after that, they find bones. While most would consider this bad luck, it’s certainly good luck for the dead because Roarke finding the old bones means that his wife—the smart, sassy, and dedicated murder cop Eve Dallas—is on the case.
The building Roarke bought had once been a shelter for troubled and homeless teens—neglected young people, who both Roarke and Eve can relate to. No one twenty years ago had cared that twelve innocent teenagers had been killed. They’d already disappeared without anyone concerned for them. Now, though, Eve will make sure she finds out what happened because justice for the victims is paramount, no matter who they were or how long ago they died.
Concealed in Death introduces readers to a new recurring character in the world: Dr. Garnet DeWinter, a forensic anthropologist. Immediately, Eve butts heads with Dr. DeWinter (par for the course for anyone trampling over Eve’s crime scene), and it takes a while (the entire book) for Eve to fully trust the doctor. It’s always fun to watch Eve spar with “fresh meat.” Dr. DeWinter holds her own, but personally? I’m always rooting for Eve.
Everyone in the universe makes an appearance—Eve’s partner, Detective Peabody; Peabody’s main squeeze, Ian McNab; police shrink Dr. Mira; rock star Mavis; and, of course, Roarke’s right hand, Summerset, who Eve loves to torment. Plus, all your favorites. But some of my favorite moments are between Eve and Peabody. After Eve comes up with some questions about why a suspect didn’t file a missing persons report, Peabody says:
“I didn’t think of that.”
“That’s why you’re not the lieutenant. Dig, and while you’re digging we’ll go get all up DeWinter’s ass.”
“She’s got a really good one.”
“Jesus, Peabody.” Amazed, Eve slid out into traffic. “You checked out her ass?”
“I check out everyone’s ass. It’s a hobby.”
“Get a new one. Like … bird-watching or something.”
“Bird-watching? In New York?”
“You could count pigeons. It would take the rest of your life.”
Like all the In Death books, dialogue and pacing is quick and fun. I love a good cold case to solve, and Concealed in Death gave me everything I love in a mystery. But what really shines through in this volume is the depth of character—not only Eve and Roarke and their large number of friends and colleagues, but the suspects and others who populate the book—like teenage thief Quilla.
Who killed these girls? Who covered it up? Why? Like every good mystery, we go along for the ride with Eve and Roarke as they use every resource at their disposal to find justice for the victims. One of the key threads in all the In Death books is that Robb never lets Eve become complacent. While she is certainly happier and more at peace as the series continues, she never stops searching for answers for herself and for others, which makes Eve Dallas one of my favorite fictional cops ever.
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Allison Brennan is the author of twenty novels, including the Lucy Kincaid series, and many short stories. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, she lives in Northern California with her husband Dan and their five children.