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‘Who’d kill for you?’ Peabody waited until Eve lowered her hands. ‘I mean who’d kill because somebody was rude to you, or, well, snotty?’

‘Nobody leaps to mind. I tend to avoid relationships with the homicidal.’

‘I don’t mean a specific name, Dallas. A type, a category even. Like someone you helped, someone you maybe saved from harm. Or someone close to someone you helped or saved.… You get a lot of media, Dallas, whether you like it or not. And it’s “a not”, I get that. But, you get a lot of media. You’ve closed a lot of big cases.’

–Obsession In Death, pp 34–5

 

ObsessioninDeathUKObsession In Death is the 40th book in JD Robb’s hugely successful, futuristic crime-fiction series, featuring NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband, Roarke.

Since 1995, when the first book, Naked in Death, was published, the ‘In Death’ series has garnered much praise, not just from fans but also from peer writers – Janet Evanovitch, Kathy Reichs, Dennis Lehane, Robert B. Parker and Stephen King, among them. But even without these accolades, 40 books – 40 – is quite an achievement by any writer’s standards. In this case, it’s doubly so since JD Robb is also the best-selling, awe-inspiring global phenomenon that is Nora Roberts.

I am a great Roberts’ fan, something I have waxed lyrical about at various points, but the ‘In Death’ series lies particularly close to my heart as I also love crime fiction, especially those books featuring strong, intricately constructed female protagonists. And, Carol O’Connell’s Mallory apart, Eve Dallas is as intricately constructed as one gets.

When we’re first introduced to the entity that is Eve Dallas in Naked in Death, the lieutenant is already a survivor. Having risen from the ashes of a sickeningly abusive childhood in which she’s forced to kill her own father simply to survive, Dallas is now a leading NYPSD homicide detective.

Like O’Connell’s Mallory, Dallas is, at the beginning of the series, at least, a solitary figure, driven by her personal demons and strong moral code to attain justice for those unable to achieve it for themselves. On a personal level, she finds it difficult to relate to other people, apart from Mavis, a former grafter who’s attached herself to Dallas and simply won’t shift. Dallas, unlike Mallory, over the course of the 40 ‘In Death’ books, develops into a much more fully rounded character. She is still formidable, still, on occasion frightening, but she’s also softened by the love and support of her soul mate, Roarke, and that of her friends – the ‘family’, which pretty much constructs itself around her, much to her bafflement.

What marks out Obsession In Death as special – in a series that, after all, features several quite remarkable books – is that it celebrates many of the themes and, indeed, people introduced in the previous ‘In Death’ titles.

The concept of ‘family’ comes under scrutiny, in particular, when a stalker–killer starts offing people, dedicating the murders to the lieutenant through personalised messages left at the crime scenes. Initially, the victims appear to be people who have disrespected Dallas, but the murderer’s focus quickly shifts to include anyone that he or she views as a rival for Dallas’s affections. Thus, Dallas is forced to deal with the reality of what to do when the safety of those about whom she cares most is threatened, including her surrogate ‘father’, Feeney, and ‘mother’, Mira.

Intertwined with this are the ideas of ‘celebrity’ and ‘fame’, which, as we see in the book – and, indeed, over the course of the series – comes not just from avidly pursuing it but also, as in Dallas’s case, from being supremely good at one’s job. This public attention is something that has consistently irritated Dallas on a day-to-day level but, 40 books in, a slightly more mature lieutenant recognises celebrity as a necessary evil, something that she has to deal with in order to do her job to the best of her ability.

While this book may lack the immediate punch of earlier titles, it is extremely well measured in tone and pace. The relationships and networks are set up so clearly that anyone coming to this series for the first time could pick up Obsession and know who’s who and what’s what in the Dallas–Roarke world. That said, if I were coming to the series for the first time, I would read the books chronologically not just to understand the complexity of and history between the characters, particularly Dallas and Roarke, but also just because those earlier novels really deserve to be read.

Obsession In Death, like other Robb books, is a good read, but it really comes into its own in the last chapters, when the identity of the killer becomes clear and the reasoning behind the murders is revealed. What really shines through in this book, however, is the love and support that Dallas quite rightfully has from her ‘family’ and also the affection that the writer herself has for her characters.

In sum, I am going to unashamedly borrow the words of masterly Stephen King:

‘[W]hether she writes as JD Robb or under her own name, I love Nora Roberts. She is a woman who just doesn’t know how to tell a bad story.’*

Well said, Mr King.

Bravo, Ms Robb.

 

ObsessionInDeathUSObsession In Death is the 40th book in the ‘In Death’ series. Published by Piatkus in the UK and Putnam in the States (10 February 2015).

 

JD Robb is the author of the acclaimed futuristic ‘In Death’ series of books, featuring Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Roarke. Robb is the pseudonym of best-selling, acclaimed American author Nora Roberts.

 

 

 

 

Also of interest:Dallas does Christmas, albeit reluctantly, a review of JD Robb’s Festive In Death’; ‘Nora Roberts’ The Collector – Falling into a pair of same arms’; ‘Mallory, an old-style hero – It Happens in the Dark by Carol O’Connell’.

See also: ‘Pinterest, “inspirational snacking” or something more? A few thoughts for authors’

 

 

Photographs/images/text in article: Obsession In Death (UK cover, Piatkus, 2015 and US cover, Putnam, 2015, respectively). Stephen King quote extracted from a review of Creation in Death.

 

 

Notice: Please note the above images and quotations are intended to be for promotional purposes only. In no way, have we have intentionally breached anyone’s copyright.

 

This review is ©The Literary Shed, 2015. All opinions expressed are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments so please do contact us or fill in the form below. If you wish to reproduce the review, please credit us fully. Thank you.