Promises in Death, by JD Robb

>> Wednesday, August 26, 2009

TITLE: Promises in Death

PAGES: 352
PUBLISHER: Piatkus (Putnam in the US)

SETTING: New York in the 2060s
TYPE: Romantic Suspense
SERIES: Number 498 in the In Death series

REASON FOR READING: Love the whole series and still read each as soon as it comes out.

Amarylis Coltraine may have recently transferred to the New York City police force from Atlanta, but she’s been a cop long enough to know how to defend herself against an assailant. When she’s taken down just steps away from her apartment, killed with her own weapon, for Eve the victim isn’t just “one of us.”

Dallas’s friend Chief Medical Examiner Morris and Coltraine had started a serious relationship, and from all accounts the two were headed for a happy future together. But someone has put an end to all that. After breaking the news to Morris, Eve starts questioning everyone from Coltraine’s squad, informants, and neighbors, while Eve’s husband, Roarke, digs into computer data on Coltraine’s life back in Atlanta. To their shock, they discover a connection between this case and their own painful, shadowy pasts.

The truth will need to be uncovered one layer at a time, starting with the box that arrives at Cop Central addressed to Eve containing Coltraine’s guns, badge, and a note from her killer: “You can have them back. Maybe someday soon, I’ll be sending yours to somebody else.”

But Eve Dallas doesn’t take too kindly to personal threats, and she is going to break this case, whatever it takes. And that’s a promise.
I pick up every installment in JD Robb's In Death series with great confidence. They're the kind of books I'll save for the weekend, when I'll have time to enjoy them. I'll sit in my comfy sofa, make myself some nice finger food, pour a glass of good wine, and trust that the book will be the perfect complement to it all. But I should be amazed at that, really. The series is 29 books long now, and each one still feels fresh and new, and very definitely not tired. I still eagerly anticipate each new book. How crazy is that?

In Promises in Death, a case hits close to home for Eve, when she's called in to investigate a murder, and discovers the victim is Amarillys Coltraine. Amaryllis was a fellow Detective, and was romantically involved with a friend of Eve's, Chief Medical Examiner Morris. And it's not only that: Eve's investigation also quickly uncovers a link to one of her past cases, one actually linked to Roarke.

It sounds a bit far-fetched and too coincidental, but it makes sense. And it leads to one of my favourite things about the book, which was the contrast between the relationship between Amarillys and a man in her past, and that between Eve and Roarke. As a young detective, Amaryllis fell in love with a man who was reputed to be involved in some very shady dealings. He fell in love right back. Does that remind you of anyone? Unfortunately, the relationship didn't have as happy and ending as that of Eve and Roarke, since Amaryllis' lover wasn't as quick as Roarke to give up all those gray areas for the love of his life. There's more parallels as well, especially in the relationships between Roarke and this man and their respective fathers.

The mirror images of the two couples, distorted as they were, served to emphasise the truth of what an amazing thing Eve and Roarke have together. They were a reminder that a succesful relationship wasn't preordained and could have easily gone wrong, had each made different decisions. It just made it even more wonderful that they did make them.

I also loved the development of Eve and Morris' relationship. It was quite heart-wrenching to see Morris come to terms with Amarillys' death, and also to see Eve, always so afraid of getting close to people and caring about them, realise that her instincts are the right ones when it comes to help her friend.

There's a lot more in this book, Summerset, Mavis and Leonardo, Charles and Louise, Nadine, and of course, Peabody and McNab. Everyone is there, but it doesn't feel gratuitous. Everyone has an important role to play, and they're great at it.

MY GRADE: I was actually thinking B+ when I started writing this review, but thinking about all the great things about the book made me realise how great it was and how much I enjoyed it. I'll be going for an A- instead.


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