Review: Seduction 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, Dirk Robertson reviews #13, Seduction in Death.

There are certain firsts in life that you never forget: your first kiss, your first love, your first cream bun. For me, you can also add your first J.D. Robb book to that list. 

Seduction in Death moves along at a smooth and slick pace, as though it were gliding on a magnetic propulsion system, set as it is in a near future that still awaits us all. This is a fine offering in the In Death sagas, and it sees Detective Eve Dallas up against a particularly nasty killer or set of killers who target their vulnerable and lonely victims and murder them in what appears to be a kind of sport or competition. A sick crime, whether set in the future, present, or murky past. 

Eve Dallas has a dark past—one that never seems far behind her, like a hellhound on her trail. Abuse and a dark family history that even Dickens would have been hard-pressed to create combine to form a character who takes no nonsense. We are all products of our childhood, and Detective Dallas is no different. She has a nose for the truly awful.

“I don’t why I looked up—I didn’t hear anything. But I just looked up, and she was falling, with her hair spread out like wings. It couldn’t have been more than two or three seconds, I’d barely had time to register what I was seeing, and she hit.”

“You didn’t see where she fell from?”

“No, she was coming down, and fast, Jesus, Dallas.” Louise had to pause a moment, rub the image from her eyes.

“She hit so hard, and with a really nasty sound I’m going to be hearing in my sleep for a long time. It couldn’t have been more than five or six feet from where I was standing.”

She drew another breath, made herself look over at the body. Now there was pity over the horror.

“People think they’ve reached the end of their ropes. That there’s nothing left for them. But they’re wrong. There’s always more rope. There’s always something left.”

“You think she jumped?”

Louise looked back at Eve. 

“Yes, I assumed … I said I didn’t hear anything. She didn’t make a sound. No scream, no cry. Nothing but the flutter of her hair in the wind. I guess that’s why I looked up. She thought now.

“I did hear something after all. That flutter, like wings.”

“What did you do after she hit?”

“I checked her pulse. Knee-jerk,” Louise said with a shrug.

“I knew she was dead, but I checked anyway. Then I took out my pocket-link and called nine-one-one. You think she was pushed? That’s why you’re here?”

Detective Dallas’s husband Roarke, a money man with power oozing out of every pocket, is there to lend a helping hand in finding the baddies, whether he is asked to or not. He is just that kind of guy.

The hunter or hunters in this tale are thoroughly nasty. The date-rape drug they use is not something you can buy outside the convenience store from a sweaty individual with his hands in his pockets and a nasty habit to feed. It takes very serious money to get your hands on this undetectable chemical, guaranteed to render the victim completely incapable of putting together a clear thought or resisting the foul advances of the perpetrator. 

Murder may or may not have been on the agenda, but what is crystal clear is that sex is what they are after, one way or another, and sex is what they intend to get. Seduction is in abundance, with rose-strewn petals on the bed, candlelight, and romantic music—but that is just the first course. The main event is rape and death. A filthy combination if ever there is one. J.D. Robb’s writing is more than subtle enough not to make me want to close the covers on this debauchery and harshness, and for that I would tip my cap to her, if I actually wore one.

“I wonder why you think you need me,” Mira said from the doorway.

Eve turned.

“Thinking out loud.”

“So I heard.”

“I appreciate you coming out here,” Eve began. “I know you’re busy.”

“And so are you. I always love coming into this room.” Mira glanced around at the walls of books that dominated the two-level room. 

“Civilized luxury,” she commented. “You’ve hurt your face.”

“Oh.” Eve rubbed her knuckles along her jaw. “It’s nothing.”

Mira’s face was, Eve always thought, perfect. Serene and lovely, framed by a smooth sweep of sable hair. She wore one of her quiet and elegant suits that looked like it had been formed out of cool fresh limes.

I am only guessing, but I suspect one of the advantages for Nora Roberts to write as J.D. Robb is that she can separate herself from the dark and heavy elements of these stories. Whatever the reason, the writing is superb. Here’s hoping your stocking this year was full of mystery and at least a few J.D. Robb books!


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Dirk Robertson is a Scots thriller writer, currently in Virginia where he is promoting literacy and art projects for young gang members. When not writing, tweeting, or blogging on the Mystery Writers of America website, he designs and knits clothes and handbags from recycled rubbish.

Read all Dirk Robertson’s posts for Criminal Element.


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