<--Previous Review Click Here to Return to Index of Reviews
Click Here to Return to Home Page
Next Review-->
Click the Cover Picture or Title to purchase this item from Amazon.com -- a new browser window will open.
Getting Better All The Time
Betrayal in Death
"J. D. Robb" (Nora Roberts)

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 at all.

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 multi-trillionaire husband,
Roarke, is the puzzle.

< 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 past.

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,
creeping book by book up on four average.

Actually, that's one running gag that wore out its welcome very early in the series, as far as i'm concerned -- almost invariably, when Dallas mentions a crime scene or the residence of a witness or whatever, Roarke says "I own that".

As near as i can figure, Roarke must be rather richer than Scrooge McDuck and Flintheart Glomgold combined.

Click here to return to where you were.