Festive in Death, by JD Robb

>> Sunday, January 25, 2015

TITLE: Festive in Death

PAGES: 400

SETTING: 2060s New York
TYPE: Police procedural & romance
SERIES: By my count, 41st full-length title in the In Death series

Eve Dallas deals with a homicide—and the holiday season—in the latest from the #1 New York Times bestselling author.

Personal trainer Trey Ziegler was in peak physical condition. If you didn't count the kitchen knife in his well-toned chest.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas soon discovers a lineup of women who'd been loved and left by the narcissistic gym rat. While Dallas sorts through the list of Ziegler's enemies, she's also dealing with her Christmas shopping list—plus the guest list for her and her billionaire husband's upcoming holiday bash.

Feeling less than festive, Dallas tries to put aside her distaste for the victim and solve the mystery of his death. There are just a few investigating days left before Christmas, and as New Year's 2061 approaches, this homicide cop is resolved to stop a cold-blooded killer.

Eve's latest case is the death of a womanising personal trainer. Someone's taken exception to his assholic approach to romance and stuck a knife in his chest. Meanwhile, it's coming up to the holidays and the now traditional Christmas party Roarke insists they host at their house.

Festive In Death is an unremarkable entry in the In Death series. I enjoyed reading it, but it's one of the more forgettable ones. There's just nothing here that stands out.

The case Eve is investigating is good, but not great. It's an interesting setup, and the investigation is well-done, as usual. The solution was a little bit surprising to me, which is good, but on the other hand, I don’t know just how much I believed it (especially the final flourish, if you can call it that). This element of the book is... competent, but has nothing to raise it above that. There is no particular urgency to get justice, Eve is not particularly affected by it on a personal level and it's not a particularly clever, intriguing premise. Just ok. It really needed some tension and suspense.

And I guess I could say similarly about the personal stuff. I liked visiting with these old friends, but they keep telling the same stories, so some of the set pieces felt a little bit tired this time. They were just a bit too predictable… “oh, here comes the scene where Trina slathers some gloop on Eve”. Hard to get excited about that.

I still do like Robb's characters, though, both the ones we know very well and the ones who have tiny bit parts in each book and we only meet for a little while. The first scene speaks of how well these characters have been created: the body is found by the victim’s ex and her friend, and the friend, who is unnamed in that initial scene, is clearly someone we know. And I could tell immediately who it was, just through how she spoke and reacted.

I also liked Eve’s continued minute progression. She continues to unbend a bit about loving the people who have become part of her life and showing it, and that's good to see. She's not as she was early in the series, but she's changed in a way that feels believable, especially if one has been with her every step of the way. Good stuff but, again, not surprising and by now not novel in any way.

Finally, I feel I should probably mention yet again (as I've done in my previous In Death reviews) that the OTT nature of Roarke as a character continues to not really fit in what the series has become. At least his role in Eve’s investigation was not particularly prominent here. When he did get involved, though, it felt strange and wrong. He goes on all sorts of random interviews as civilian consultant. Seriously, the police show up to question you and this world-famous billionaire businessman just happens to be along for the ride? I question that defence lawyers don’t have a ball with that.



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