Concealed In Death, by JD Robb

>> Wednesday, August 15, 2018

TITLE: Concealed In Death

PAGES: 416

SETTING: 2060s New York
TYPE: Police procedural & romance
SERIES: By my count, 40th full-length title in the In Death series

In a decrepit, long-empty New York building, Lieutenant Eve Dallas’s husband begins the demolition process by swinging a sledgehammer into a wall. When the dust clears, there are two skeletons wrapped in plastic behind it. He summons his wife immediately—and by the time she’s done with the crime scene, there are twelve murders to be solved.

The place once housed a makeshift shelter for troubled teenagers, back in the mid-2040s, and Eve tracks down the people who ran it. Between their recollections and the work of the force’s new forensic anthropologist, Eve begins to put names and faces to the remains. They are all young girls. A tattooed tough girl who dealt in illegal drugs. The runaway daughter of a pair of well-to-do doctors. They all had their stories. And they all lost their chance for a better life.

Then Eve discovers a connection between the victims and someone she knows. And she grows even more determined to reveal the secrets of the place that was called The Sanctuary—and the evil concealed in one human heart.
Tidying up my review files, I've found a few where I've got a review almost fully written but never sorted it out to post (this is probably a bit too much detail on how the sausage is made, but my MO is to write chunks of review as I'm reading the book and as soon as I've finished it, and then, usually at some later point, tidy up by writing a summary, putting points in an order that makes sense, add any overarching or linking things, etc.). This is one of them. I've reviewed most of the following books in the series, but this one fell through the cracks. And interestingly, this is one where you see some consequences from it in later books.

Reading reviews of the last few JD Robb titles, it feels as if every single long-term reader of the series is bored with it, feeling it's got a bit stale. I can certainly understand the feeling -I've had it with several series. For some reason, however, I'm not feeling it with the In Death series. Not at all. I still look forward to every single new release and try to save it for the right time, when I can savour it properly. The anticipation is not an anxious, "can't wait to see what happens" one, but the anticipation of knowing I will enjoy every minute of the book. Which I invariably do. I did when I read this book, and I have done so in all the other since then.

In Concealed In Death, what's concealed is the bodies (or rather, skeletal remains) of 12 girls, and they're concealed beneath a false wall in a building Roarke has recently bought for renovation. Starting their investigation, Eve and Peabody soon deduce the crimes would have happened about 15 years earlier, right after a shelter for teenagers moved out of the building. The shelter has continued in another location, now with better funding, but are there still connections to the disappeared girls?

As always, I enjoyed the puzzle solving, the careful, step-by-step unraveling of the evidence. This was a particularly good one. Pretty much all the others in this series (all of them? I'm hedging because I've been reading this series for over 20 years, so I may well have forgotten about one) are crimes that have just taken place. This is a crime from the past, one where the killer thought they'd got away with it, and it made for a different vibe. It was an interesting change.

I also enjoyed meeting every new character, whether they are characters who might become an important part of the series (like the fascinating forensic anthropologist), or one-scene ones (like the parents of one of the dead girls). Each character is individual and unique, and I love to see the way Eve and Peabody handle the conversations.

On the personal side, in this book we learn quite a lot more about Mavis and her past. We knew already that she had come from a pretty rough background, but not much beyond how she and Eve originally met. Turns out 15 years ago Mavis actually knew several of the kids who died, and her backstory adds richness to a character whose quirkiness I thought had started to become a little bit cartoonish.

A solid entry in the series.



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