Review: Thankless 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 #37, Thankless in Death.

Eve Dallas is back in the 37th In Death novel, Thankless in Death. J.D. Robb has created a most-believable heroine with this series of books, and despite its longevity, each book feels essentially individual. Robb achieves this by working in layers when it comes to Eve Dallas. The past she has endured and the life she has led because of it all come together to make her the person she is. And with each book, Robb peels the layers off, one by one, to take the reader on a journey that ends in the Lieutenant we love. The result is books that are immensely readable and extremely enjoyable, which portray a character that you can root for all the way—so long as she is not coming after you. 

Thankfully, this time Eve’s coming after Jerry Reinhold. Jerry has given his parents a proper evening’s attention, the likes of which only a proper psychopath can aspire to: a knife for his loving Mum, who has put up with so much from the ungrateful sponger, and a baseball bat for his poor old Dad. Jerry is the kind of character you develop a soft spot for straight away—a slurry pit just off the New Jersey turnpike. He really is a foul specimen. 

The taste of blood he gets from slaughtering his family sets him off on a proper murderous spree, but not before he has emptied their bank account of money—after all, a man has to stay afloat. I wouldn’t normally include the name of the perpetrator or the exact nature of the deeds in a review, but J.D. Robb lays it straight on the table, meaning you know from the very beginning who the murderer is and who has to be apprehended by the long arm of the law.

“Peabody, let’s go find the lazy bastard son.”

“Keep it legal,” Peabody called back to Cardininni.

“When I have to.”

Eve stopped long enough at the elevators to brief the sweepers when they unloaded, then stopped on with Peabody.

“Tell me about the son.”

“Lazy bastard probably fits.” Peabody commented. “Flunked out of college, second year in. He hasn’t held a job for longer than six months, including one at his father’s place of employment. His last job was delivery boy for Americana restaurant. He’s had a couple of minor pops for illegals, one for drunk and disorderly. Nothing big, nothing violent.

“I think he graduated.”

“He did that over what they had stuck in a coffee can?”

“He did that because his life’s in the toilet and they’d decided to stop pulling him out. That’s how it strikes me. See if he’s used any credit cards, debit cards, in his father’s or his mother’s name.”

She stopped off to get the security disc from the uniform in the lobby.

“Start canvassing the building,” She told him. “Find out if anybody saw anything. And when and if anyone saw Jerry Reinhold. Start on the eighth floor, but cover the building.”

“Yes, sir.”

In the car, she slid the disc into the dash unit. “Let’s see when he left.”

While the action is all of the murderous type, you do get a real feel of the relationship between Dallas and Roarke. It’s Thanksgiving, and his huge Irish family are due for the proceedings. But that doesn’t hold Eve Dallas back from staying hot on the trail of the evil one. The quote from Shakespeare, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth…” was made for the murderous offspring. 

Elements of the book are genuinely creepy, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. No matter how many times I read these characters, they’re never tiring. I never get the feeling it is being written to a formula, which would be an easy trap to fall into given the nature of the stories and how rapidly Robb puts them out. Eve Dallas juggles family commitments and the rigors of the job as good as anyone, I'm sure, in New York in the 2060s.

“Yeah, yeah. Sal, take over here.” Fitz wiped his hands on the front of a white bib apron that had seen a number of wipes already that day. He snagged a big, black drink bottle and with a head jerk gestured Eve and Peabody after him to an empty table.

“You oughta to try some pie, on the house. Cops don’t pay on my shift. Got two cousins on the job.”

“Here in New York?”

“Up the Bronx, both of them. Pie’s good. My ma and my sisters make em.”

“So you’re a family business.”

“Eighteen years, this location.” He stubbed a wide finger on the table. 

“We do okay.”

“I appreciate the offer, but we’re not going to take up much of your time.” Eve all but heard Peabody’s happy pie stomach whine.

“We’d like to ask you about Jerald Reinhold.”

A great addition to the series, and it underlines J.D. Robb’s consistency and ability to keep it moving forward as she builds her brand, both as a writer and a foreteller of what New York will be like in the 2060s. I wonder if there will still be credit and debit cards….


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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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