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 #41, Devoted in Death.
Buckle up for Devoted in Death because this story starts with a bang and does not let up as two love-struck killers travel from Oklahoma to New York, leaving a trail of bodies in their wake.
One of the fun things about being a fan of J.D. Robb’s In Death series from the (almost) beginning is that there’s such variety in the stories throughout the series itself while still holding true to the characters. Some books are deeply emotional and story-changing (New York to Dallas); others are almost a straight-up police procedural (Survivor in Death); and others are a bit lighter and fun, at least as fun as murder and mayhem can be (Fantasy in Death). Devoted in Death is a genuine crime thriller, a race-against-time Bonnie-and-Clyde story.
While most of Robb’s books are written like a mystery—where the reader sits back and absorbs the clues to figure out along with Lieutenant Eve Dallas who the killer is—Devoted in Death starts in Ella-Loo’s head with another great first line: “The first kill was an accident, mostly.”
Robb spends more time in our killers’ heads than most of the In Death books, and to great effect. Ella-Loo and Darryl are on a killing spree, and it’s up to Eve Dallas to connect the dots. And if Ella-Loo didn’t love New York so much, she might have gotten away with her crimes. But she landed in Eve’s city and killed one of the people Eve is sworn to protect and serve.
She thought, fleetingly, that twenty-four hours earlier she’d been basking, mostly naked, on the sun-washed sand of her husband’s private island with Roarke, also mostly naked, beside her.
However she’d begun 2061, she was back in New York now, and so was death.
Dorian Kuper, a cellist with the Metropolitan Opera company, was brutally tortured and murdered, then dumped in an alley. Top murder cop Eve Dallas and her trusty partner Delia Peabody respond. As they often do, they look at the evidence at the crime scene and play off each other, trying to figure out motive and method, the whys and hows of the crime. From the beginning, Eve gets a sense that the killer is playing—because of how he tortured his victim. But she and Peabody have their work cut out for them. The hardest crimes to solve are murders of strangers with no seeming motive.
Roarke always has Eve’s back. Even though she’s fighting crime and he’s buying and selling the known universe, Roarke knows what Eve needs and when she needs it. He’s certainly no pushover—and the conflicts that arise in their relationship are legendary—but he is Eve’s rock. Together, they can survive anything.
Eve woke to the familiar, the scent of coffee, Roarke, already dressed in one of his master-of-the-business-universe suits on the sofa in the sitting area working on his PPC as the screen, on mute, scrolled with financial data she’d never understand. And the cat sprawled over the top of the sofa like some feline potentate.
Really, it didn’t get much better.
Like every In Death book, we get to revisit our favorite characters—including the M.E., Dr. Morris. Readers learned more about Morris in Promises in Death when his girlfriend, a cop, was murdered. I always enjoy spending time with the calm, methodical, intelligent Morris, and while he shows up in most of the books, he gets a bit of a bigger role in Devoted because of the manner of Kuper’s death—getting answers from the body is critical in solving the crime.
But learning who killed Kuper turns out to be easier than finding them.
They looked so ordinary. Monsters shouldn’t look so ordinary, so much like ordinary people. The woman was pretty, in a hard, slutty sort of way, and the man—good-looking, sort of gangly and … stupid, she thought now.
When Ella-Loo and Darryl grab another victim to “play” with, finding the killing pair takes on a greater urgency for Eve and the gang. Eve makes her team work hard, but she never slacks off herself—and, after all, her husband Roarke feeds them, so they can put in the extra time.
I can’t tell you why Devoted in Death is one of my favorite in the series … the breathtaking pace? The back-and-forth between killer and cop? The over-arching storyline of love done right … and love done very, very wrong? Whatever pixie dust J.D. Robb used, it worked all the way to the last page.
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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.