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, Corrina Lawson reviews #8, Conspiracy in Death.
When we first signed up to review books from the In Death series, Conspiracy in Death was at the top of my list. Why? Because it’s the first book where Eve Dallas completely falls apart.
No, I’m not a sadistic reader who wants to see her favorite characters suffer. But seeing Lt. Eve Dallas lose all faith in herself allowed me (and other readers) a window into what being a cop means to Eve and why she does what she does.
Eve has been depressed and upset before in this series—such as when she and Roarke temporarily broke up in Glory in Death, or when she finally recovered the memories of killing her father in self-defense—but never has Eve’s sense of self been so under attack as in Conspiracy in Death.
“They took my badge,” Eve says, at her lowest moment.
That moment allows Eve Dallas the person—not Lt. Eve Dallas the cop—to shine through. It also offers Roarke a chance to show why he’s the perfect person for Eve. (And it’s not because of his bajillion dollars or his pretty face.)
The mysterious conspiracy of the title alludes to the theft of organs by medically-trained personnel from those living at the margins of society: the street sleepers, the whores down on their luck, the people that no one will miss. Except for Eve, because all victims matter to her. She throws herself into the investigation despite an attempt on her own life, which she shrugs off (as she does).
But it’s the attack on her badge that nearly defeats her. In the opening scene of the book, Lt. Dallas encounters Officer Bowers, a beat cop who has her own reasons for hating Eve, all of them a product of jealousy and anger verging on paranoia. When Bowers meets her inevitable end, Eve’s enemies make sure she is a suspect in the murder, leaving her department little choice but to suspend her. To most other officers, this would be a temporary pain in the ass until the truth is uncovered. To Eve, it’s a gut punch that rips away her reason for being.
Eve’s recovery from that moment is what always draws me to this story, including how Roarke is part of that recovery, first by offering comfort, but then by knowing when to make her angry enough to fight back.
“Why did you kick at me like that?”
“To piss your off.” He smiled a little, cupped her chin. “It worked. You’re going to need some ice on your knuckles.”
She linked her aching fingers with his. “I killed your droid.”
“Yes, I know.”
“I pretended it was you.”
“Yes, I know.”
It’s not the relationship most couples have, but it’s a relationship that works for the two of them. (For those wondering, Eve’s talking about Roarke’s calculated failure to offer comfort, not a physical assault.)
Of course, Eve picks herself off the floor and investigates the conspiracy as a private citizen, while her stalwart mentor, Captain Feeney, and her loyal aide, Peabody, keep up the official pressure on the conspirators. Even Nadine Furst, the crime reporter, supports Eve by shining a spotlight on her stellar career. By this point in the books, Eve has numerous friends and allies, even if she doesn’t realize it.
Conspiracy in Death also introduces two new characters to the In Death universe that become part of the core cast. First, there’s Louise Dimatto, a physician born into privilege who runs a free medical clinic in the poorest areas of the city whose information turns out to be key in uncovering the mastermind behind the organ theft. Second, there’s Police Officer Troy Trueheart, the pure young man with more intelligence than his superior, Bowers. Eve sees potential in Trueheart and immediately beings working to have him assigned to her division—an act that is the last straw for Bowers’s paranoid mind. Louise and Trueheart are—like all In Death characters—unique creations, making the varied and interesting cast one of the joys of reading the series.
In the end, of course, Eve, Roarke, and company peel back all the layers of conspiracy and catch the megalomaniacal bad guys.
Like many of the In Death books, the theme underlying this story is that everyone matters, whether rich or poor, forgotten or celebrated. Eve stands for truth and justice for everyone. In Conspiracy in Death, she concludes that she’ll always do that, with or without a badge.
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Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and superhero, though not always all four on the same day. She is a senior editor of the GeekMom blog at Wired and the author of a superhero romance series and an alternate history series featuring Romans and Vikings in ancient North America. She has been a comic book geek all her life and often dreamed of growing up to be Lois Lane.