Calculated in Death, by JD Robb

>> Saturday, October 19, 2013

TITLE: Calculated in Death

PAGES: 416

SETTING: Futuristic: 2060 New York
TYPE: Police procedural & Romance
SERIES: By my count, 38th full-length title in the In Death series

On Manhattan's Upper East Side a woman lies dead at the bottom of the stairs, stripped of all her valuables. Most cops might call it a mugging gone wrong, but Lieutenant Eve Dallas knows better.

A well-off accountant and a beloved wife and mother, Marta Dickenson doesn’t seem the type to be on anyone's hit list. But when Eve and her partner, Peabody, find blood inside the building, the lieutenant knows Marta's murder was the work of a killer who's trained, but not professional or smart enough to remove all the evidence.

But when someone steals the files out of Marta's office, Eve must immerse herself in her billionaire husband Roarke's world of big business to figure out who's cruel and callous enough to hire a hit on an innocent woman. And as the killer's violent streak begins to escalate, Eve knows she has to draw him out, even if it means using herself as bait...

It's been a while since I've been truly excited by a new In Death, but they're dependably enjoyable comfort reads, and that's exactly what this new installment turned out to be.

When the body of accountant Marta Dickenson is found at the bottom of the stairs of a building in renovation, Eve and her team immediately know it's not the mugging gone wrong that it appears to be. It looks like a hit to them, but one performed by a not particularly professional hitman. Evidence points towards the reasons for the murder being somehow related to the Marta's work, so there we go, perfect opportunity to involve Roarke!

The case is more interesting than it sounds. Going through an accountant's workload could be a bit (well, a lot) mind-numbing, but Robb keeps it interesting by focusing on the people and personalities involved as much as on the business dealings they're involved in. I ended up really enjoying the investigation, even if I did think the ramp-up in violence at the end was unnecessary. I think the original case alone was strong enough to stand on its own.

I particularly appreciated that there was a very real sense of tragedy here. Marta never becomes just "the victim". She was a real person, and it's clear her death is felt as a huge blow by the people who knew and loved her. I came close to tears quite a few times.

The "personal" side of this book was nothing huge, but it was still interesting, and showcases the many ways in which Eve has changed over the series. The premiere of the Icove film that has been rumbling on for several films is coming up, and though Eve is not at all excited about going, she's a lot more chilled out and relaxed about doing so than she would have been at the start of the series. I also liked that through the case, she got a little bit of a better sense of what Roarke's everyday life is about. And as in previous books, we got to see more of Eve the manager and leader at work, advising Trueheart of career development. Again, it sounds boring, but when you know the characters involved as well as longtime readers of the series do, it's not.



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