Visions in Death

J.D. Robb
2005 reissue of 2004 release, Futuristic Romantic Suspense
Berkley, $7.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 042520300X
Part of a series

Grade: B+
Sensuality: Warm

Every time a new J.D. Robb comes out I snap it right up. It's now book twenty and while I'll admit that the book did sit on the table for a few days (as opposed to my sitting down and reading it in one gulp like I did at the beginning), Robb still delivers with each new entry. Her latest is solidly done even if I did long for something a a bit more meaty for Eve and Roarke.

It's been a long, hot, bloody summer in New York and for Detective Eve Dallas it's about to get worse. After dutifully attending a business affair with her husband Roarke all Eve wants is to get home and get out of her dress and heels. Instead she's called to the scene of a brutal murder. A woman has been raped and strangled and posed in Central Park. It's immediately clear to Eve and her colleagues that this is not the first or the last victim for this particular murderer. Every moment she takes to solve this crime could be the last for some other woman.

Aiding Eve in her investigation is newly minted Detective Peabody, her ever-growing team of friends and colleagues, and her husband Roarke. As a long-time reader of mysteries I've always been a little amused at the debate about Roarke's participation in Eve's investigations. Sure he owns everything - a fact Robb has wisely begun to use for comic effect - but he's really playing the part of the meddling wife known to many a mystery reader. Couples in mystery series frequently include a professional investigator (the guy) aiding or aided by an amateur investigator (the girl). Robb has simply reversed the genders and though sometimes the results are mixed, it is a valid convention in terms of mystery writing.

Fans of the series will realize that there isn't anything new in this set-up. Eve is a kick-ass homicide detective and in each volume she has to find a killer against incredible odds. I've sometimes thought the mysteries haven't always been the strongest element in the series. Too often I've deduced the killer just because of the amount of space they're given. Of course the characters can't see that, so I've always applauded the author for the police procedural aspect of each book. Ms. Robb plays fair and shows how Eve and her colleagues discover the elements of the crime, connect them to someone, and nab their killer. All true of Visions in Death, but this time I'll applaud both the procedure and the mystery. The plot does go through a couple of convolutions but the culprit remains mysterious throughout.

Though I've realized the ones that stick for me are the ones in which Eve and Roarke are at odds, every book in the series has its moments. The ones that are unexpectedly funny or touching, the ones that reveal a new aspect to a series regular, or something that simply makes you sit up in surprise. Visions has a couple of each but it's the last group that caught my attention. To say much more would spoil it but there is nicely subtle writing that concerns one of the plot elements. I do want to issue a WARNING: The galley I read had a story blurb inside and it includes a major spoiler. I'd suggest reading any cover blurbs very cautiously or not at all if you don't want to be spoiled.

-- Jane Jorgenson

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