Apprentice in Death, by JD Robb

>> Sunday, February 19, 2017

TITLE: Apprentice in Death

PAGES: 384

SETTING: 2060s New York
TYPE: Police procedural
SERIES: By my count, 44th full-length title in the In Death series

The shots came quickly, silently, and with deadly accuracy. Within seconds, three people lay dead at Central Park's ice skating rink. There's a sniper loose on the streets of New York City, and Lieutenant Eve Dallas is about to face one of the toughest and most unsettling cases of her career.

Eve knows that only a handful of people could have carried out such an audacious but professional hit. Even more disturbing: this expert in death has an accomplice. Someone is being trained in the science of killing - and they have a terrifying agenda of their own. With a city shaken to its core, Eve and her team are forced to hunt not one but two killers. Worse still - this talented young apprentice has developed an insatiable taste for murder...
The ice skating rink in Central Park. Tourists, regulars and casual visitors are having a great time, until a skater goes off balance in the middle of a flying twirl and crashes into a young family. But she didn’t go off balance, she was hit by a laser shot, and within seconds, two more people have been fatally hit.

Eve Dallas is called to investigate, and it soon becomes clear the shots came from nowhere near the rink. They're looking for a sniper, a really good one, and that's not even the biggest surprise. Turns out they're looking for two people, teacher and student, and the apprentice is clearly getting into killing.

Every time a new book in this series comes out, and they have been doing so at 6-month intervals for over 20 years, I'm suprised that Robb hasn't ran out of steam. I'm aware lots of people disagree and have gone off the series, but I'm still fully engaged. Yes, there are flaws (fantasy-billionaire Roarke has felt out of place in Eve's world for quite a few books now, as I've said again and again!), but not enough to matter to me. I continue to love these books.

Apprentice in Death featured a particularly solid case. It’s an interesting setup, but more than that, there’s solid detective work in identifying the culprits, and then even more in catching them and getting enough evidence for a conviction. It's a tense chase, as well, and it worked wonderfully.

The different books in this series have a different balance between the case and personal stuff. In this case, the focus was solidly on the case, but that didn't mean there was no character development. It's just that there wasn't really much external character stuff going all (we did get Bella's first birthday, but that was really minor). Here the character development comes directly out of the case. There's the way the random victims weigh on Eve, supporting one of the most appealing features of this series, which is that the victims are always portrayed as real people. They're given personalities and motivations, and their deaths affect others. But there are also the issues raised by the relationship between the culprits, as they lead Eve to ponder the nature of the mentor-mentee relationship, not to mention what might have been if Feeney had not been Feeney.

MY GRADE: A nice, solid B+.


meljean brook 21 February 2017 at 05:49  

I really liked this one, too. Sometimes I get frustrated by familiar and repeated scenes, but usually it's when the mystery or the detective work isn't holding my interest, and I didn't have any of those issues here.

And I'm another one who could do with less Roarke.

Rosario 24 February 2017 at 10:42  

Have you reread the early books recently? I wonder how Roarke would strike me in those, whether it's me who has changed or whether it's the series and he just seems out of place. Probably a bit of those. I have recently got a couple of friends onto the series. They're both reading the early books, and they're sighing over Roarke, which suggests he still works well in those.

meljean brook 25 February 2017 at 07:23  

I haven't read Naked In Death very recently (I think it was a couple of years ago?) and I think because he was a suspect (kind of) and better integrated into the plot, he didn't bother me (and in the rest of the series, even a couple of years ago, I was tired of him and would rather read the adventures of Eve and Peabody. I think that's been true since book 7 or 8.)

I haven't read books 2 & 3, though, in a very very long time. I seem to remember that the series was originally conceived as a trilogy, where they meet in book 1 and are permanent in book 3 (which makes sense from a romance writer) but of course extended beyond that. So I suspect that the first three books, I wouldn't mind him so much, because they'd read with a heavier romance arc and therefore Roarke himself is better integrated into the stories.

That must be the key for me. There have been a few books where his presence wasn't so out-of-place. Of course I don't remember which ones now, but I remember thinking a few times that he didn't annoy me as much in those books. And if I went back to some earlier books (the one that focused on Sommerset, for example) I suspect he wouldn't bother me there as much, either.

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