|This is the thirteenth in this rather odd series
by romance writer Roberts under the "Robb" pen-name and is, considered as
what its form makes it, a slightly-skewed police procedural mystery, close
to the best in the series, as well.
Viewed as a story about the doings of a large and (by now) familiar cast
of capital-"C"-Characters, it's not quite the best, as some of the regular
supporting cast (particularly Dallas's singer friend Mavis) barely appear
Roberts has been experimenting with form, somewhat, in the newer books, and
so this one is not quite an inverted mystery -- the police figure
out precisely who the actual killer comitting the brutal murders is, and
some of the basis of his pattern quite early in the book, but just why
he is targetting people associated with and increasingly closer to Lt .Dallas's
For a minor SPOILER that's also in the book's
Page One publisher's blurb, click here >
Dallas, a tough cop in Homicide Division, New York
Public Safety Department, has dealt with serial killers before, and some
of the cases have hit pretty close to home -- she first met Roarke when he
was a serious suspect in one -- but this case, which seems to be a deliberate,
slow and vicious assault on Roarke himself, is particularly nasty, especially
since it may well be connected with Roarke's criminal
Because Roarke, apparently the richest man in the world
by now, began as a poor street punk in Dublin, a pickpocket and prtty thief,
who eventually escaped from his abusive father and gradually worked himself
up and into society and respectability. Since marrying Dallas he has cut
loose all former ties to the Underworld... but now the Underworld seems determined
to reach out and drag him back. The murders are somehow linked to him, maybe
to his past. An old friend from his street-Arab days, long thought dead,
turns up and mooches hospitality in Roarke's home.
Good solid suspense throughout, though the end sort of collapses on itself
a bit, and the story resolves more with a whimper than a bang.
The rest of the cast are here, in, as i said, often rather small roles --
Roarke, himself, of course, Dallas's boss, Commander Whitney Feeney and McNab
of the computer forensics deivision, Dallas's assistant, Patrolwoman Peabody
(who gets away with a sardonic wit, often at her boss's expense, because
she's good), Roarke's major-domo, Somerset (with whom Dallas has a running
domestic war going which both of them carefully refrain from recognising
as covering up their mutual respect and mutual concern for Roarke), singer
Mavis, and Charles Monroe, the LC, whose friendship with Peabody puts a nasty
strain on Peabody and McNab's developing relationship.
"LC"? What's an "LC"? Senator, i'm glad you asked me that...
It stands for "Licensed Companion"...
I said these were "rather odd" procedurals didn't i? Well, the setting is
the year 2059, after the Urban Wars and the terrorist (i think) nuking of
LA and Washington DC; a period when aircars exist as well as groundcars,
when prostitutes have been replaced by Licensed Companions (of either sex,
taking clients of either sex) and when we have, apparently, interplanetary
and interstellar colonies. And fast, luxury spaceships and personal spaceships,
*way* faster-than light communications, as it's implied in the story that
people live on Mars, in the Asteroid Belt, and possibly in other solar systems,
and people have apparently normal, no-time-lag phone chats with people on
distant planets (FTL coms, anyone?).
And that always grates on me and makes the rest of the books hard to deal
with -- given a few breakthroughs in medicine and life-sustaining developments,
i could be alive in 2059. And i don't expect to see anything
like what Roberts is describing, not that soon.
But if you can get past the fact that, in that regard, the books read like
space-opera out of a 1930s science-fiction magazine, and instead concentrate
on the mostly solid stories , increasingly realistic-seeming police work
and the amusing and interesting characters, these are a good solid read.
(But i'd recommend you skip over the sex scenes -- they're mostly rather
ludicrous; just take it as a given that Roarke and Dallas have the most wonderful
relationship since they invented sex and get on with the story.)
Four stars in a series that, overall, rates three-plus stars average,
by book up on four average.