September 2012, Futuristic Romantic Suspense (2060 New York)
Putnam, $27.95, 400 pages, Amazon ASIN 0399158812 Part of a series
Delusion in Death is the 35th J.D. Robb book, the latest installment in a series that’s been going since 1995. So many years, so many books. If you’re not current with the series, just the idea of starting has to be somewhat intimidating (because yes - you really need to read them in order).
I’m still current and I still drop everything to read the new one when it comes out. I usually feel my diligence is rewarded; the books, while not all up to the sheer genius of the first few, are at least solid reads. In recent years, they’ve mostly moved on from serial killer mode (an improvement, in my opinion). The latest installment begins with a horrific crime scene in a bar (that Roarke owns, of course). One minute people were having drinks and dinner, and the next they all attacked each other like animals, after twelve minutes, eighty-three people are dead. The few survivors describe horrible hallucinations involving things like monsters and killer bees. The tox results reveal that the victims injected a potent cocktail of distilled LSD, Zeus (a fictional drug found in the In Death books), mushrooms, and synthetic enhancers.
The motives and suspects are murky, but the danger is obvious. Releasing too many details to the public could cause widespread panic. Any public, enclosed space could become a drug-crazed battlefield. The word “terrorism” gets bandied about. Summerset provides Eve with an early clue: A couple of similar incidents happened years earlier, during the Urban Wars. Eve starts looking for those connections among those who might have a motive. Roarke steps in and helps, like he always does.
If you’ve read the other 34 books (and really, there’s no point in reading this one if you haven’t), you know that there’s a mystery and/or suspense plot, and then generally a side plot going on with Eve, Roarke, and their various friends. In this case, Eve is still reeling somewhat from her experiences in Dallas (two books ago), where she came face to face with her mother. Roarke puts his foot down and makes her go talk to Mira, who helps her sort through some of the difficult emotions. It’s well done, but I found myself more interested in the mystery and the insights with the Urban Wars.
So how does the book stack up? Well, after reading - and reviewing - so many, I find it hard not to get a little repetitive. And I would apply that adjective to both the books themselves and my reviews of them. But the fact that I will still pull them out of the review stack and sneak a peek before sending them on to their respective reviewers speaks volumes; I don’t do that with any other books, even those I am greatly anticipating. All these years and all these books later, I still care what happens to Eve and Roarke. And Peabody, McNab, Mavis, Mira, Nadine, and pretty much everyone else. I found the premise of Delusion in Death interesting, and liked the Urban Wars tie in (which actually leads to a little more respect between Eve and Summerset). The resolution is satisfying as well.
What would I like to see at this point? A book where Eve has to solve a mystery completely without Roarke’s presence. His “expert consultant, civilian” duties are getting out of hand. Though I love him (really), I think we need to see a book where he’s on an extended business trip. You know, doing his actual job. Meanwhile, Eve could do her job without Roarke’s unregistered computer. They could have phone sex - or link sex, if that’s what they call it in 2060 - and then a happy reunion when he gets home.
Like me, you probably already know where you stand with these books. For me they still work, despite their flaws. I’d recommend this one to those who’ve read and enjoyed the other 34.
-- Blythe Barnhill
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