The Book Gourmet

Book reviews à la bookworm...The good, the bad, and everything in between.



Professional Reader Reviews Published

Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb

Treachery in Death - J.D. Robb

Hiding in one of the rickety showers in an unused gym at Cop Central, Detective Peabody overhears two dirty cops discussing their side-business. She immediately turns to her superior, Lieutenant Eve Dallas, and her report soon opens a can of worms some would kill to keep closed.

I'm in awe of this author who, even after more than thirty books still manages to pleasantly surprise me, and this absolutely fantastic book.

Yes, there was murder, but this story focused more on the inner politics and workings of the police force, and especially on the juxtaposition between the crooked and the straight, and how loyalty can be earned by example both in the good and the bad way.

To me, beside the intense and gripping storyline of our favorite characters slowly but surely building a case against the bad seeds in the police force, this was an ode to Eve Dallas and her (good) example in leadership, and how loyalty can truly be earned instead of commanded, how respect can be earned instead of expected.

When she stepped into the bullpen, Jacobson hailed her. “Lieutenant, can I have a minute?”

“Do I look like I’ve got a minute?” Then she cursed, shrugged. “My office.” She strode in, waited for him to follow, then shut the door.

“Okay, I interrupted you. Why am I interrupting you?”

“Long story, full details to follow,” Eve told him. “For now...” She turned to her computer, called up pictures and data on Marcell, Palmer. “These two men are planning to ambush me in the garage in a couple hours. Their orders are to stun me, toss me in my own vehicle, take me to my crime scene and kill me very dead.”

As Jacobson studied the images, his eyes went hard as stone. “Is that fucking so?”

“It is.”

“They’re soon going to be having a really bad day.”

Sometimes she's a tough character to understand and even to like, but she's a great character despite all her obvious flaws. And her men and women are willing to do to the line for her.

Her own weapon was out as she pivoted and saw Jacobson stick his right in Marcell’s ear.

“Drop the fucking weapon, you fucking motherfucker or I’ll fucking scramble your fucking brains. Hands up! Hands where I can fucking see them, you fucking cocksucker. You fucking breathe wrong, you fucking blink wrong, and I will fuck you up.”

While Reineke and Peabody dragged Palmer out the other side, Eve stepped back, let Jacobson deal with Marcell.

“That was some very creative and varied use of the word fuck, Detective.”

“Fucker.” Jacobson snarled it as he shoved Marcell to the ground. “On your fucking face, you fucking shit coward. Stream my lieutenant in the fucking back? Fuck you.”

There was a distinctive snap followed by a scream.

“I seem to have misjudged my step, Lieutenant, and stepped on one of this motherfucker’s fingers. I believe it’s broken.”

“Could’ve happened to anyone.”

Well-written, well-paced, well-plotted with a core of steel, pride and resolve that echoed in the each and every good guy, this was a magnificent ode to the good cops everywhere, and our favorite fictional cop of the future.

“What’re you all still doing here? Don’t you have homes? Dismissed.”

To her utter shock Baxter shifted to attention, snapped a salute, held it. “Lieutenant,” he said, and every cop in the room followed suit.

Awesomely perfect!

Possession in Death by J.D. Robb

Possession in Death - J.D. Robb

A blood-covered woman stumbles into the street in the exact moment Lieutenant Eve Dallas is driving by. While she tries to stop the flow of blood, the woman asks her to help her find her missing granddaughter, Beata, and "let her in", before dying. But the TOD shows the woman died three hours before, and Eve is suddenly developing strange symptoms...She sees and talks to the dead, she speaks Russian and Hungarian, and she knows how to make borscht...It looks like she did let something in and is now sharing her body with a dead Romani woman.

Sure, it was short, yet it packed quite a punch. There was just the right amount of story to keep things interesting, to keep the brain engaged in the investigation, and to keep the tempo up.

The plot picks up where the previous book left off (I thought it was strange we didn't get the epilogue with the picnic at the end of Indulgence), with Eve coming home on the Saturday after interrogating the man who tried to kill her, and straight into the get-together she organized to keep Morris's spirits up.
She's giving Father Chale López a lift to his church, when the first victim of the day falls in her lap (figuratively) speaking, and even though it all happens in the matter of a day, it didn't read overcrowded or over-complicated.

It was just right, with the added pinch of paranormal to liven things up just a bit.

Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb

Indulgence in Death - J.D. Robb

Helping solve the murder while on vacation might not be the norm for Lieutenant Eve Dallas, but it's nothing compared to what she must deal with when she returns home. A limo driver shot with a crossbow, a high-class LC stabbed through the heart with an old bayonet, a chef speared with a harpoon...It smells like thrill-killing for the spoiled and the rich, those born with a silver spoon in their mouth...

Disregard for life pisses Eve off, but this time the piss-off factor is off the charts, and she'll do anything to make the killer (or killers) stop.

I'm glad to see that after a few iffy past installments, this series is back on track.

I loved this story; the drama, the danger, the tempo and pace, the intrigue, and the game of cat and mouse the indulgent played with our favorite cop. It was a little sickening, but it still pulled me in right from the start (with that rather innocuous first DB), and made me want to be able to read faster to see what happened next.
I liked the fact all the participants knew who the killer was, knew the sickening motive behind the killings, so we were all on the same page during the investigation, trying to find the clues that would make the case stick and put the killer where they belong.

Intense and gripping, filled with drama, rife with twists, with the tempo increasing toward the finish line, this one was one heck of a story.

Missing in Death by J.D. Robb

Fantasy in Death - J.D. Robb

A tourist enters the women's restroom on board of a Staten Island ferry...and disappears. Lieutenant Eve Dallas is called to the scene, thanks to the restroom being covered with blood, but the blood doesn't match the missing woman's blood type...And then the woman resurfaces, her memory missing the past hour.

What has she witnessed? Why has she forgotten it? Who does the blood belong to? And where is the body?

Definitely my least favorite of the series. I just sort of zoned out somewhere past the half mark and couldn't really concentrate on the plot or what the heck was going on.
In the end, I figured it was too short to really make an impact and definitely too short to give the story real credit. Everything was crammed into those measly ten chapters, making the novella overblown, crowded, and utterly "too busy".

Kindred in Death by J.D. Robb

Kindred in Death (In Death, #29) - J.D. Robb

The MacMasters, home early from their short trip, find their daughter, sixteen-year-old Deena, dead in her bed. She'd been repeatedly raped and sodomized and then strangled. The distraught father, a recently promoted Captain of the NYPSD, requests Lieutenant Eve Dallas to helm the investigation, and even though the trauma the girl's been through brings forth memories of her own abuse-filled childhood, Eve takes the case...Deena is already hers.

It quickly becomes apparent, Deena knew her killer, and the message he or she left on scene alludes at the daughter paying for her father sins. What is the connection between the killer and Captain MacMasters? Will the killer stop or are there more sins to be paid for?

A solid, well-written story, although it ended up being a tad too long, losing plenty of momentum in the last few chapters.

The kills were appropriately gruesome and the killer's machinations and planning meticulous, yet I felt the motive didn't really hold its weight. It was a little too far-fetched for my liking, with innocents once more losing their lives due to flimsy slights perceived by the villain. But those are sociopaths for you, I guess.

I didn't really connect with the plot this time; I felt rather detached from all the proceedings instead of the story pulling me in as it usually happens.

I wasn't that interested in the lighter parts of the story either, feeling the whole Charles/Louise wedding side-plot simply added more ballast to the plot, slowing it down, and added more pages to an already too long story.

Promises in Death by J.D. Robb

Promises in Death - J.D. Robb

A police detective is found dead in the basement of her apartment building and it looks like the killer used her own weapon on her. Lieutenant Eve Dallas is called onto the scene as primary, and while all cases involving killed cops are personal, this one is even more so. The victim was Chief ME Li Morris's girlfriend.

I loved this book from first page to the very last. It was also tough reading it, but not because there was anything wrong with it, but because it was personal for me as well. I've come to know, respect and love these characters throughout the course of the series, so the bigger the impact of this murder, this case, was on them the bigger was on me.

It was a tricky one with no apparent motive or suspects, although I suspected who did it (not the why, though) from the very first scene the killer appeared in. It was tricky, it was tough, it was twisty, it was hard, and it packed an emotional punch for the characters and for the reader.
Especially in the end, when the motive turned out to be petty revenge...And an innocent woman lost her life (and her future with the man she loved) for basically nothing.

I loved how everybody came together to help when one of them needed it, I loved reading about how they intersect, how their relationships merge and mix together, and how they're there for each other no matter what.
And how drama and sadness was balanced by the lighter theme of Charles and Louise wedding preparations in the forms of their respective bachelor and bachelorette parties. Those lighter scenes, complete with Eve's panicked fretting about having to spend some time mingling without the added buffer of her job, provided some much needed levity.

Well-written, emotional and dramatic with a wonderful cast of characters and the ties that bind them together. Loved it.

Ritual in Death by J.D. Robb

Ritual In Death - J.D. Robb

A glamorous party at Roarke Palace hotel is interrupted by a naked man covered in blood, wielding a knife and claiming he might've killed someone. Tracing his bloody footprints, Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her husband, the hotel's owner, find suite 606 filled with signs of ritualistic debauchery—complete with a dead body lying on a pentagram...

Too short to develop any real "meat" with a case that was rather easily solved, a cameo from one of the past cases, mentions of Satanism, a first suspect with an idiotic reasoning, and a marital quarrel between Eve and Roarke thrown into the mix for variety, I suppose.

Definitely nothing to write home about, but not bad to spend an hour with.

Salvation in Death by J.D. Robb

Salvation in Death (In Death, #27) - J.D. Robb

A priest drops dead in the middle of a funeral mass; COD: cyanide poisoning. Soon, it turns out, he wasn't really a priest, and while Lieutenant Eve Dallas is trying to figure out who the victim really was, the murderer strikes again. At another religious event, in front of even more people, but with the same murder weapon...

Who has it for men of the cloth (more or less) and why?

I found it rather hard to get into this book. Not because it was poorly written, quite the opposite in fact, but somehow it failed to really catch my attention...And my interest.

The truth behind the first body seemed a little far-fetched, the characters written especially for this story weren't that "appealing", I found the middle murder a little too misleading, and the entire investigation, the motive, and the one who pulled all the strings left me rather cold.

It was a solid, well-paced story with many twist and turns, yet nothing to really rave about.

Strangers in Death by J.D. Robb

Strangers in Death - J.D. Robb

A prominent member of society is found dead in his home, while his wife is away with friends. The man was tied and strangled on the bed with various sex toys proudly displayed beside his bed. It looks like a kinky game gone wrong, but it sure smells like foul play to Lieutenant Eve Dallas.

She also has a perfect suspect, although there's one big problem. The main suspect has an airtight alibi. Yet Eve's gut keeps on tingling, and soon the seemingly perfect web starts to unravel.

This might've been set in the future, but it carried a very mid-past-century vibe. Taking its cues from Patricia Highsmith's book and Hitchcock's subsequent movie Strangers on a Train, those who know the plot, know how it all went down. Thanks to that angle of predictability, I saw the signs early on and struggled with the fact Eve didn't make the connection sooner.
Still, the killer was the only predictable thing and it didn't deter from my overall enjoyment of the story; I loved the twists and turns of the investigation and looking for possible clues that might tie it all down with a pretty red bow on top.

Masterfully executed. Well-written and well-paced with that little added nugget of frustration at the characters for not making the right connection and the evidence that simply wouldn't cooperate (at least at the beginning).

Intriguing, engrossing, gripping, a little frustrating...Loved it.

Eternity in Death by J.D. Robb

Eternity in Death (In Death, #24.5) - J.D. Robb

A fourth-generation rich, club-hopping socialite is found dead in her own bed with the only sign of trauma two puncture wounds in her neck. Cause of death: exsanguination.
The woman has recently hooked up with a mysterious man, no one has seen, no one knows... Except for the fact she called him her "Dark Prince".

Lieutenant Eve Dallas is a pragmatist; she doesn't believe in the occult or the paranormal. She knows Tiara Kent wasn't killed by a vampire; a human did her in, and Eve has her suspect. He might not be a monster of legend, but he is a monster; she recognizes it in him...Now she just needs enough-ha-nails to hammer into his coffin.

This story was short and quick, yet it still packed quite a punch. It had enough sprinkling of potential paranormal elements to keep the characters (and reader) guessing, even despite everyday human logic.

The killer was known almost from the start, so there wasn't much investigation or procedural going on, but the pacing held strong, the plot was tight and intense, the story engrossing and slightly creepy.

Great story.

Creation in Death by J.D. Robb

Creation in Death - J.D. Robb

A ghost from the past is back...The killer they've dubbed "The Groom" nine years ago, is back in New York, and his first victim has been found just as the previous ones; her body posed, showing signs of severe torture, a silver ring on her third finger.

But there's something chillingly new in his MO this time around—a connection to Roarke. The victim worked for one of his companies, she was washed with products from a store he owns, and she was laid on a cotton sheet one of his companies manufactures. In lieu of all of it, Lieutenant Eve Dallas pulls her husband deep into the investigation...Only to discover "The Groom" has decided to make things very personal since the connection between Roarke and "The Groom"'s last intended victim is personal indeed.

Words cannot describe how much I loved and enjoyed this book. The twists and turns, the game of cat and mouse, the leads and false ends, and in the end the very personal connection the killer had chosen to make.
What made this one stand out of the more-or-less always outstanding installments in this series, was the fact Roarke was so deeply involved with the investigation from the start. It's always a pleasure reading about his help and input, but this time he was in the thick of it, right there in the war room with the rest of the task force, and the reader got to really see all the steps through his eyes.
Also, to me, this story carried a sense of urgency that wasn't as pronounced in the previous books. Time was literally running out on "The Groom"'s victims, and on the investigation itself, and the pacing, flow of the story, and even the narrative style echoed that inevitability and urgency. Everything happened in the span of maybe two days, yet the time-span seemed longer, conveying that sense of frustration, dread and fatigue everybody on such a task force must feel, until the reader feels like he/she is a part of the story, and as drained as its characters.

I loved the glimpses into the killer's sick mind, I loved the interactions between various characters, the altercation between Eve and Feeney provided that extra nugget of realism, and the story itself was engrossing, intense, and gripping.

A truly awesome story.

Innocent in Death by J.D. Robb

— feeling amazing
Innocent in Death (In Death, #24) - J.D. Robb

A young teacher is killed via poisoned home-made hot chocolate, but Lieutenant Eve Dallas's gut tells her it wasn't the man's wife...Then another man, also a teacher, is killed, tranqued and drowned in the school swimming pool.

There's no apparent motive for both murders, no apparent killer who'd want to snuff both men, and to complicate matters further, Eve's not really at the top of her game, thanks to an old flame of Roarke's resurfacing to muddy the waters, plunging the otherwise strong couple into a tailspin of jealousy and fear.

Whew, what a relief that after the glitch that was the previous book, this series is back on track with a bang.

There were two solid plotlines in this story, expertly interwoven, with one actually infringing on the other with Eve's professional life hindered by the turmoil in her personal one.

The "professional" plot involved the conundrum that was the initial murder, its connection to the second, and the various intersecting lines between the two as Eve and team struggled to find a common denominator that would point them to the killer and the motive.
I certainly didn't see any of the two coming, and my sentiments echoed the ones of the characters as each of them struggled with seeing, comprehending and swallowing the truth. It might've been hard to believe, but definitely possible and plausible.
The final reveal was twisted and chilling, but didn't really came across as far-fetched as the sociopath was revealed.
Well-plotted, and very well-written with a deceptively slow pace.

The second story, and the one that truly grabbed my attention and heart-strings, was the turmoil and havoc in Eve and Roarke's personal lives. Throughout the series these two have come across as a true power couple, with their bond holding strong, their trust in each other implacable, and only fighting about big things (and even those fights never lasted long). So it was refreshing (and reassuring for us mere mortals) to see them scramble, to see Eve in the grip of fear-fueled jealousy and Roarke reduced to an ignorant male affronted that his wife would dare question him.
Reading about their rift, how it impacted their everyday lives and Eve's work was a little heartbreaking, but, as Ms Robb tries to teach with every book—that communication is key in a strong relationship—everything was resolved once Eve actually spoke up about what was bothering her in this particular situation.
I would've loved a more satisfying end to the "Maggie" angle, but, as Eve said, the Fear of Roarke would have to do.

I loved this story, both its major plotlines, the main characters were once more those that I came to love, and I'm looking forward to more.

Born in Death by J.D. Robb

Born in Death - J.D. Robb, Susan Ericksen

Lieutenant Eve Dallas isn't having a good few days. Her best friend is about to give birth and Eve is supposed to be there, which to her is one of the worst nightmares (and she knows nightmares), she's dealing with a double homicide connected to one of the most prominent financial firms in the city, and now her best friend Mavis has asked her to find another friend, a heavily pregnant woman recently moved from England that went missing...

If I said this book was a disappointment, it would be an understatement. I just couldn't bring myself to care about what happened; either to the characters (Eve and Roarke included) or the plot.

There were too many things going on at once ending up connected; which struck me as too an easy out. Mavis and her bun-related antics grated, Eve's rather overblown (panicky) reaction to the process of birth quickly turned annoying, and the (too) many plot elements somehow failed to mix well together and/or grab my attention.

Haunted in Death by J.D. Robb

Haunted In Death - J.D. Robb

Number Twelve, an old, abandoned nightclub, is reputed to be haunted. Then the owner, a descendant of the original one, the one who supposedly killed his young girlfriend, is found dead in the club, his body full of bullet holes...And on the upper floor, there's a hole in the wall and inside skeletal remains; remains of the first victim, shot dead over a century before.

I simply couldn't get into this one. It was slow, rather dull, and pretty incongruous with the rest of the series. It felt written like an afterthought than an actual short story, with characters I usually love reading about merely going through the motions.

Memory in Death by J.D. Robb

Memory in Death - J.D. Robb

Eve's first foster mother, the woman who made six months of her life spent under her roof a living hell, is in New York, claiming to want to reconnect with her charge after all these years. Eve is shaken, and doesn't realize what Roarke does, that Trudy Lombard is in New York for one purpose only, to get rich by blackmailing Eve.

Roarke, naturally, refuses to pay, and once Eve comes back to her sense, the two decide to confront the woman one last time...But they're too late; someone has already gotten rid of her.

Eve's past rears its ugly head (again), but this time it's the part of her past after the root of her nightmares. The woman who "tortured" her for six months, made her wash with cold water, locked her in the dead and Eve can't find it in herself to really care, as she usually does with the other murder victims.
This particular case offered a good juxtaposition to everything we read so far, because of Eve's own reservations and her "relationship" with the victim, and how the case, even though it connects to her past, affects her dreams.

It was a solid story, but, like Eve, I just didn't care much about the case, the victim, the next of kin, or the murderer and the motive. It seemed like I was reading it through a veil, not really engaged, not overly interested.

What saved it from a lower rating, is the personal stuff. No drama there, just your regular Christmas cheer with gifts, decorating, partying with friends...And what I loved most about it was seeing Eve and Roarke relax at home, being together without her work intruding too much. It was nice reading about them as a "normal" couple.
Those scenes were homey, sweet, and, as usual, sexy.

Origin in Death by J.D. Robb

Origin in Death - J.D. Robb

The pioneer in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, a Nobel Prize winner and veteran of the Urban Wars, Dr. Wilfred B. Icove is murdered in his office with a single, precise, stab to the heart with a scalpel. The suspect, a stunning young woman, is a ghost; her name and address is bogus and no one seems to know her.

Digging deeper into the saintly doctor's life, Lieutenant Eve Dallas suspect something nefarious. No one is this squeaky clean, and encrypted, coded files she finds just might prove her theory. Then the good doctor's son is murdered in the same way, and the perfect image starts to unravel.

This book makes you think. Not just about who is the baddie (are they really?) and who might be next, but once the motive is clear, a whole new picture forms. A picture, a (fictional) truth that really gets you thinking about ethics, morals, and how some people think they can play God and get away with it.
This story was chilling, but not in a gory, bloody way, but in a psychological way as it makes you contemplate human nature, the boundaries of science and medicine, and the lengths some would go to create perfection.

It was jarring, chilling, engrossing...Even though, the ending was a bit over-the-top science fiction-y and mad scientist-y.

There was little drama on the personal front, with only Eve and Mira butting heads over the medical, scientific and ethic dilemma of the case. On the happier side, there were the holidays, with Roarke inviting his newly-found family over for Thanksgiving, where his unnatural nerves and his family's descent on the household offered a few moments of levity to the otherwise rather dark and brooding story.