Review: Fantasy 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 #30, Fantasy in Death.

Sometimes, escapism is all we’ve got. Departure from reality—immersing yourself in another world, in another self—can be a coping mechanism for dealing with the scary things in reality. It’s a chance to regroup. Sometimes, it’s exploring a different side of yourself. For Bart Minnock, turning his love of gaming into a ground-breaking, multi-million dollar business is a dream come true. But his fantasy derails when he’s found dead, locked in his holo-room, decapitated, and with no sign of foul play.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas has her work cut out for her. No one appears to have any problems with the victim, but people don’t lose their heads over nothing, and Eve’s convinced the whole setup is more than just a game.

Murder did that. Took lives, crushed others, changed others still forever.

So why had someone needed or wanted to end Bart Minnock’s existence? And why had they chosen the method used?

Money. Jealousy. Revenge. Secrets. Passion.

From all appearances, he had money, she thought, and ran a quick standard financial. Okay, he had money, and U-Play was a strong, young company. Her first instinct was to take CeeCee at her word. No jealous exes. But money often generated jealousy. Revenge might come through a competitor, or an employee who felt shafted or under-appreciated. Secrets, everyone had a few. Passion? Gaming had certainly been the victim’s.

Method … Murder during game play. Kind of poetic in a sick way. Decapitation. Sever the head—the brain—and the body falls. Minnock was the brains of U-Play it seemed from her quick run. Would the body fall without him? Or was someone ready and waiting to slip in and take over?

Whatever the answers, the method had been bold, purposeful, and complex. God knew there were easier ways to kill. It was very likely the killer was just as serious and devoted to gaming as his victim.

As a con-going, costume-wearing gal, I found Fantasy in Death realistic, intriguing, and incredibly clever. Not to mention the snide severed head-related puns adding an extra giggle. Though the killer seemed obvious, I was impressed with the science behind the methodology and murder, which I hadn’t anticipated.

The juxtaposition of events outside of Eve’s jurisdiction (from the Pizza Box murder to her friend’s book-launch party) gave a nice contrast to the heavy world of geekery and gaming. We get to see Eve through a different lens, and while she remains absolutely herself, she finds connections between the “costumes” she wears for different functions and the way her killer is hiding behind a vid-screen.

It was, of course, a little bittersweet to see so many Star Wars references after Carrie Fisher’s unfortunate death—especially with Bart having a Leia droid. And I find it entirely unbelievable that Eve has no idea who Batman is, but it’s a flaw and a simple way to keep our present alive in Eve’s future.

I really enjoyed reading this one, and Eve remains as snarky as ever. Though, I’m glad to see more complex aspects of her personality rounding out her character.

 

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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 ExquisitelyOdd.com.

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