Joint Review: Strangers in Death by J.D. Robb

Posted March 25, 2008 by Holly in Reviews | 9 Comments

Joint Review: Strangers in Death by J.D. RobbReviewer: Holly and Casee
Strangers in Death by J. D. Robb
Series: In Death #26
Also in this series: Creation in Death, Suite 606, Salvation in Death, Kindred In Death, Naked in Death, Glory in Death, The Lost, Rapture in Death, Immortal in Death, Fantasy in Death, New York to Dallas, Celebrity in Death, Brotherhood in Death
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: 2008
Genres: Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths, Thrillers, Suspense
Pages: 356
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four-stars

The new novel in the #1 New York Times-bestselling series.
Technology may be different in 2060 New York, yet the city is still a place of many cultures and great divides. But as ever, some murders receive more attention than others-especially those in which the victim is a prominent businessman, found in his Park Avenue apartment, tied to the bed-and strangled- with cords of black velvet.

It doesn't surprise Lieutenant Eve Dallas that Thomas Anders's scandalous death is a source of titillation and speculation to the public-and of humiliation to his family. But while people in the city are talking about it, those close to Anders aren't so anxious to do the same. With some help from her billionaire husband, Roarke, Eve's soon knocking on doors-or barging through them-to find answers.

But the facts don't add up. Physical evidence suggests that the victim didn't struggle. The security breach in the apartment indicates that the killer was someone known to the family, but everyone's alibi checks out. Was this a crime of passion in a kinky game gone wrong-or a meticulously planned execution? It's up to Dallas to solve a case in which strangers may be connected in unexpected, and deadly, ways.

Warning: This is less a review and more a discussion about Strangers in Death, J.D. Robb‘s latest installment in her brilliant In Death Series (see my post about this series here). Beware, however, it’s riddled with spoilers. If you haven’t read the book yet, you may not want to read this post! :End Warning.

Casee: So what did you think? Did you figure out whodunit before Eve?

Holly: Yes, I figured it out immediately (when she swept into the apartment) but I didn’t figure out how she did it until just before Eve did.

Casee: Well la di da. I figured it out when I read the front flap. (Ed. Note: Casee is bitter because I almost always figure out whodunit and she almost never does. Poor Casee. :End Ed. Note)

Holly: Don’t be bitter. It’s not a good look for you. 🙂

I really liked watching Eve try to puzzle it out, but there’s something about this one that didn’t just make me jump up and Squee. I can’t figure out what, though? Maybe because we just came off Innocent, which was Am-az-ing? I don’t know what exactly, but I felt something was missing.

Although, I have to say, I love that we saw more from Charles and Louise. Were you surprised about Charles’ announcement?

Casee: I was surprised about the sex therapist part, but not the part about him giving up his occupation. I never did get how Louise could accept that. I loved that part where he took her to the house.

You’re right. This one was just so-so for me. I liked it, but I didn’t love it.

I think my favorite parts were between Eve and Peabody. I love how Peabody openly covets Roarke.

Holly: I was surprised about the sex therapist part, too. Although looking back on it I shouldn’t have been. I’ve always been a bit squicked out (just like Eve) over how easily Louise accepted what he did. But I think it was really important for their relationship that she did. I don’t think he ever could have completely given himself to her if she hadn’t. He would have always wondered, you know?

I loved her reaction. How she was all set to walk away from him. Cracked me up. this is my favorite part:

“I thought you were tired of me, that you didn’t love me anymore and didn’t know how to tell me.” She managed a watery laugh. “You’ve been breaking my heart, Charles, for weeks.”

“Louise.” He drew her to him, kissed her damp cheeks, her lips. “It must be loving you so much, and being terrified you wouldn’t want all this, that’s had me screw up so badly.”

“I was going to be so sophisticated and cool when you broke things off. Then I was going to gather up any of your things at my apartment and set them on fire. I’d worked it out.”

“I was prepared to beg.”

She tipped her head back, laid her hands on his cheeks, and smiled beautifully. “I love you, Charles. You didn’t have to do this for me, or for us, but I love that you did. I love that you screwed it up. Oh! Show me the rest!” She spun away and into a circle. “Show me every inch so I can start planning how to drive you crazy with decorating ideas. I’ll nag you so relentlessly over window treatments and wall colors you’ll wonder why you ever wanted to cohab.”

“Cohab?” He shook his head. “For two smart people who’re desperately in love, we’re certainly having a hard time understanding each other.” He slipped a small velvet box out of his pocket, flipped the top. The diamond exploded with light and brilliance. “Marry me.”

“Oh.” She stared at the ring, stared into his eyes. “Oh my God.”

Casee: I think that was my favorite part of the whole book. Which speaks for itself, dontcha think?

I also loved this after Charles and Louise went to tell Roarke and Eve. Heeee

“I feel like I’ve already had a couple bottles. I’m so giddy!” Louise threw her arms around Eve, squeezed. “We’re thinking May, late May or early June. Something small, sweet. But I’m getting ahead of it. Tell them the rest, Charles.”

“We’ll be moving into a house in the West Village.”

“Oh, God, it’s fabulous. One of those amazing old brownstones, wonderfully rehabbed. It even has a courtyard garden in the back. Working fireplaces, three levels. I’ve already earmarked a room on the third floor for my home office. And the lower level is perfect for Charles’s clients.”

Eve opened her mouth, slammed it back shut. But apparently some sound had snuck out before she zipped it.

“Not those clients.” Charles shot Eve a look. “Part three of the news is I’ve retired, and am about to begin a new career in psychology, specializing in sex therapy.”

I also read on some review somewhere that the tiff between Eve and Roarke seemed contrived. I have to agree. It did seem rather forced. But I can’t decide if I would have thought that if the idea wouldn’t have been in my head. You know?

Holly: Yeah, I do think. And I agree. That made the whole book for me. And I was so cracking up at Eve after the fact. When she’s all annoyed at having to do wedding stuff. Poor Eve.

Hmm, you need to refresh my memory. What argument? Or does that just say it all?

Casee: You know about how she doesn’t like taking his money?

Holly: No, I don’t think it was really contrived. Actually, I think it was kind of due. I think the way they settled it was contrived. The thing is, that’s been building between them for awhile. I was disappointed in the way it was handled, but not about the fight itself. It was only a matter of time before Roarke got on her about it. And especially if she was tapped out, you know? Because, dude, he’s got billions but his wife doesn’t have $10 in her pocket?

Casee: Maybe it was the resolution then. It just seemed forced I guess.

Holly: I agree about that. The resolution was just…flat. I mean, I suppose it’s ok that they came to an understanding without having a big blowup, but it didn’t ring true for their relationship.

Casee: Oh, another part I liked was when Chief Tibble’s wife came up to Eve during the funeral. I loved that whole scene.

Holly: Oh, that was a great one. I love that not only did Eve not take her crap, but she realized she was wrong once Eve got going. It was wonderful. You know, one of the things that disappoints me about this series is that we never really see the backlash from the outside characters. For example: The chief’s wife. She was one of the biggest supporters of the villain, but we never saw anything from her after. Like, maybe the chief saying something to her or whatever. Not that it really HAD to happen, but it might have been nice to see something one way or the other, you know?

And you know what I want more than anything? I want to see Eve get wrapped up in Roarke’s work. I realize the series is about her, not him, but I want to see her decide to take an interest, or to bust in on one of his meetings and take over, or something.

Casee: I know what you mean. It seems like it’s always about Eve. Sometimes a stray thought will go through her head about how Roarke has his work too, but it’s just that…a stray thought. One that goes away once thought. Or maybe I’m just being unfair.

Holly: No, I really don’t think you’re being unfair. I think she’s selfish in that way, and I think (hope?) someday he’ll call her on it. I realize he LIKES doing stuff with her, but I’m starting to get frustrated that there’s no growth there.

Overall I really enjoyed the book (because how can you not when it’s an In Death Book) but it wasn’t as great as some of her others.

Casee: @gmail.com>@gmail.com>@gmail.com>@gmail.com>This installment of Eve and Roarke was so-so to me. Don’t get me wrong, Nora Robert’s “so-so” is pretty damn good. Alas, it’s hard to come down after reading Innocent in Death, one of my personal faves.

Holly: I agree. I’m giving it a:

4.o out of 5

Casee:

Me too

This book is available in hardback here or here in eBook format.

four-stars

9 responses to “Joint Review: Strangers in Death by J.D. Robb

  1. Yum yum Roarke!!
    I can’t wait to see what the next few books have in store for our duo. I wonder if we will find out more info on Eve’s past, mainly her mother.

  2. I’m curious about that, too, Katiebabs. I hate that we have to wait, but I love that they come out faster than other series books.

  3. I think one of the reasons why the book fell a bit flat is that we knew right away who did it and so, the only thing they had to prove was how. That takes away a bit of the suspense. It’s great for character developments, cos then, you don’t have to put all the focus in the investigation. I’m happy with Louise and Charles and can’t wait to see their wedding 😛 Eve as matron of honor… hmmm. LOL

  4. I’m not big into murder mysteries, so for me this series is all about the characters. I agree w/ you guys that seeing more of Charles and Louise was fantastic. I kind of wish we could get a book that wasn’t focused on an investigation and would just let me visit w/ the characters some more…but don’t really see that happening.

  5. I didn’t think this was one of the better ones either – but that said – for me it was still pretty damn good. I gave it the same grade as both of you 🙂

  6. Nath,
    It’s entirely possible that’s one of the reasons it fell somewhat flat, but honestly? I think it had more to do with the fact that Innocent was one of the best in the series. And a lot of the key elements from other books. Like Eve’s past and Roarke’s family and whatnot. Still, not a bad entry, just not the best.

    Jessica,
    I love the mystery aspects, but what makes the series standout are the characters. I think I’d be bored with a novel focused solely on them w/ no murder plot. Plus, Eve is a cop. At her core, deep inside her soul, she’s a cop. I don’t think there could be a book without a murder to solve.

    Kristie,
    Agreed. 🙂

    Ween,
    It was! Seriously. LOL

  7. azteclady

    One of the things that keep me coming back is that an average book by Nora Roberts is a degree of magnitude better than many a really good book by other people. She just does relationships in a way that sucks me in ::shrug:: That’s what I look for in my romances, you know?

    On the money argument thing: I don’t think it’s solved. At least, not definitely.

  8. I agree, AL. She does relationships better than any other author I’ve read. Like I said, this wasn’t a favorite, but a not-so-great book by Nora is a far sight better than some fabulous books by other authors.

    I guess I hadn’t really thought about it, but I’m sure you’re right. The $$ thing probably isn’t over. Regardless, I still think it wasn’t done very well. Or maybe I just wanted a big blowup? LOL

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