|I began reading these books at my wife's suggestion;
while the earlier volumes were a bit weak, i found enough to continue, and
now look forward to each new entry in the series.
Dallas and Roarke and company are strong and interesting -- if somewhat larger
than life -- characters, who pull the reader into their lives and adventures,
a definite plus for a series.
The plausibility of the police action portion of the stories continues to
improve; that is, while not particularly like real-world police procedures,
it still rings true enough -- and, more importantly, self-consistent
enough -- for the purposes of the story.
The futuristic setting still fails to convince me, but it's certainly at
least as self-consistent and plausible as the future we see in "Star Trek".
The romance elements... well, they're there. I never cease to be amused by
the fact that mainstream, respectable romance novels of today often feature
language and descriptions rather stronger than were common in under-the-counter
pornography when i was in my teens, forty years ago.
As usual, Dallas's byplay with her assistant, Officer Peabody, and Peabody
and computer cop McNabb's on-again/off-again hot romance provide elements
of broad humour and Roarke continues to own virtually everything in sight.
(I'm getting a bit tired of that gag, actually.)
Plotwise, it's one of the tighter and more complex to date; pretty obviously
inspired by the real-life Leopold/Loeb killings that also inspired Hitchcock's
"Rope", but giving a couple of nasty little extra twists of the type that
are this series's stock in trade.
The initial crime(s) that bring Dallas into the story involve the use of
some rather nasty date-rape drugs in the seduction and deaths of young women
in kinkily-romantic settings; bed strewn with rose petals, fine wines, lovely
dinners... and death.
As Dallas and Peabody probe the case, it becomes evident that this is something
beyond "merely" a rapist/murderer... something nastier and sicker and dirtier.
And Dallas offers herself as bait for the monster...
If you've read earlier books in the series and enjoyed it, then you'll want
to read this one as well. If you haven't read any of them, you could either
go back to the beginning of the series, or you could, i'd say, easily begin
with this or any other of the earlier ones that sounds interesting. Unlike
some series, while the characters and setting have been steadily developing
in interest and complexity, this is not a series that one has to read from
the very first in order to properly appreciate them.
I would love to see a decent film or TV series made from this series; having
caught an early "Remington Steele" the other day, i'd love to see Pierce
Brosnan as Roarke.