Review: Delusion 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, Meghan Harker reviews #35, Delusion in Death.

There's no better way to unwind from a long day at the office than to kick back at a bar with a few coworkers or friends. It’s a usual routine: down a few drinks, grab a handful of nachos, flirt your way through a blind date, and, without warning, spend a brutal twelve minutes beating each other to death. That's the scene Lieutenant Eve Dallas finds one evening—an overwhelming eighty bodies floating in the bloodbath. What she can't dredge up is a suspect, motive, or means. 

When three survivors turn up in stable enough condition to speak to her, they claim their evening started out normal but ended with demons, giant swarms of bees, and other impossible things. The only claim they have in common is a sudden headache. 

Good news for Eve: it doesn’t take long to realize whatever caused this catastrophe wasn’t in the food or drink. Bad news: it’s a cocktail of various drugs and poison. Worse news: it’s airborne, and once inhaled it’s a short, rage-filled ride to violent harm or a sudden death.

Of the three In Death novels I've read, Delusion in Death is definitely my favorite. Is it too weird admitting I find cases of poisoning really interesting? Well, too late to worry about that now, I guess. The set-up was different from previous titles, leaving Eve in a haystack trying to find the needle. We get more slice-of-life interludes (what with her husband owning the bar in question) and more insight into the Urban Wars.

Since I didn’t start reading from the series beginning, I’m not sure how much of the Wars are actually covered, but I appreciate information threading back through history without a text book of references and allusions. 

One of the best parts of this series is J.D. Robb's ability to maintain her humor, writing witness accounts straight out of a science-fiction novel:

“They know me there, and the waitress—that’s Katrina—I don’t know her last name—she’d saved me the little two-top over by the wall as I’d called in earlier to let them know I’d be bringing a client in. It’s my usual table.”
He closed his eyes—pale, bloodshot blue—a moment. “Usual. Nothing’s usual now. I ordered a soy latte, and started my review. I like to keep as much pertinent information fresh in me before a meeting. It was crowded. It’s not a big place, you understand, but it’s friendly and well run. That’s why I like to use it, and like the small table by the wall. Katrina brought over my latte, and I was going to ask her for some water as I had a sudden headache and wanted a blocker. Then the bees came.

“Bees?” Eve repeated.

“Yellow jackets, very large.” His chest rose and fell on a shuddering breath. “Impossibly large. I was badly stung as a boy, on my grandfather’s farm in Pennsylvania. They swarmed me, and I still remember them all over me, stinging buzzing, and stinging as I ran … I was so startled to see the bees, and I swatted out. They were crawling on Katrina, and I waited at her to get them off. And then … I must have hallucinated because Katrina opened her mouth, and bees swarmed out of her. That’s crazy. I must have panicked. They swarmed out of her, and her eyes changed, her body. It was—I know this is crazy—it was as if she turned into a huge bee. Like in a horror film.”

While, yes, I would be absolutely out of my mind in horror to see someone turn into a huge bee, I just can’t help but laugh. I’m treated to the same snarky commentary from my favorite lieutenant, and I’m really impressed by the variety of crimes/bad guys/motives I’ve seen. Delusion in Death is apocalyptic, cult creepy, and fun. It’s hard to keep things fresh after 44 books, but I’m thrilled by the array of various ways the traditional elements of crime fiction are rearranged and molded, and I like that we see several different aspects of Eve’s life, from past to present. 

I stand by my judgement that this series has something for everyone, and as a gal who selected three books at random based on their titles, I have to say I wasn’t disappointed.


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Meghan Harker grew up in a small, awkwardly-named town in Georgia. She attended Brenau University, where she earned her BA in English and a minor in Graphic Design; she also attended the University of Cambridge, England, where she didn't quite master the perfect Oxbridge accent. She's an avid reader, writer, and fire spinner. She's currently working her first novel, a paranormal thriller. Visit her blog at


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