Secrets in Death by J. D. Robb is the 45th In Death mystery, where Lt. Eve Dallas must separate rumors from reality when a woman who traffics in other people’s secrets is silenced (available September 5, 2017).
Some In Death books are thrillers with a race-against-time ride to the finish. Other In Death books are chilling suspense novels where the tension drips from each fast-turning page. And many In Death books are like Secrets In Death: a well-crafted police procedural that has you walking step-by-step with our heroine Eve Dallas as she solves a violent crime and proves, yet again, that she deserves her badge.
After 45 books, there’s a maturity to this series that makes it shine above most other long-running mystery series. Every book is as smooth as good whiskey, well-crafted, intriguing, and downright fun. Secrets is no exception.
Our cop, Lt. Eve Dallas, is off-duty and dreading having drinks with Dr. DeWinter, a colleague she respects but doesn’t particularly like. Dallas is actually yearning for a call—this is New York, after all, there has to be a dead body somewhere.
She’d rather be back in her vehicle and driving home through the jam of other vehicles. Down to it, she’d rather engage in mortal combat in some downtown alleyway with a Zeused-up chemo-head than head for some fussy fern bar.
Dallas gets her wish, though not as soon as she’d like. Just as she’s in the middle of the dreaded conversation with DeWinter in a trendy bar (owned by Eve’s dashing, super-rich husband Roarke), a body literally drops at her feet. Gossip star Larinda Mars is dead.
While no one liked Mars—even if they respected her on-screen talent—Eve always stands for the victim. Always. Justice must be served, even when they learn that Mars had some illegal sidelines of her own. Even when they learn Mars is not exactly who she says she is. Eve methodically moves forward, uncovering and sympathizing with many Mars victims while also recognizing that whoever could kill in cold blood can—and will—kill again.
While on the one hand, Secrets is a twisty, smart police procedural, we also are treated to in-depth characters that truly elevate the entire series. We get to revisit our favorite regulars—like Peabody and McNab—in this very “real” fictional world. My favorite thing about a good series—and in particular the In Death series—is that the world building is so strong that every book is like visiting old friends and learning one more cool thing about them.
As Eve investigates Mars’s death, she confronts moral and ethical gray areas and is truly torn over her strong sense of justice and the realization that victims are not just among the dead, but also among the living. Every decision she makes is true to character, but she wrestles with not only her own past demons but those of others. While her partner, Peabody, has always been the nurturer in the relationship with victims and survivors, Eve takes on a bit of that role to great effect—and in recognizing that others have faced their own evil monsters, it lightens the weight of Eve’s monsters in some ways.
She got in the car, settled behind the wheel, considered another moment. “I couldn’t, wouldn't have allowed her to victimize me. And whatever Roarke’s instincts might have been to protect me, he’d have stood by that. For me. It’s the badge that gave me the will to survive—the goal of getting it, the work of upholding it. To survive and to be open enough to let Roarke push his way into my life. Betraying the badge, him, you—everyone I know would stand by me? Betraying myself?”
Not a question, Eve thought. Not an option.
Secrets is actually a great book to start this series if you haven’t read any before. You get all the key major characters and a hint of what made them who they are today—which I guarantee will have you starting at the beginning to read (or re-read) the series. And it’s always a whole lot of fun watching Roarke be, well, Roarke—the safe-cracking reformed thief that he is.
The mark of a true storyteller is to transport the reader to another place and time, and J. D. Robb does it once again. I’m already looking forward to the next installment.
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Allison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Lost Girls and Make Them Pay, among others. She was nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers and the Daphne du Maurier Award by Kiss of Death. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, Allison lives in Northern California with her husband, five kids, and assorted pets.