REVIEW: Born in Death by JD Robb
Dear Ms. Robb:
This is the 27th entry into the JD Robb series which began in 1995. Eve Dallas and Roarke No Last Name are married and have been for a few years with no plans to add to their household. Mavis Freeman, Eve’s best friend, has conscripted Eve and Roarke into being her birth coaches. Both view this is a fate worst than death. This entry has some of the funniest lines from Roarke, particularly relating to his dislike for the whole birthing process.
Here I’ll insert my own birth class story. One of the things that they teach in birthing class is that the coach can give massages to help ease away the pain (this totally does not work in practice. No massage, unless it’s given with an epidural, ever takes away the pain). So Ned puts his hands around my neck to begin to give me a massage, only his giant thumbs starting squeezing my windpipe to the point that I say to him “You’re choking me.” Ned responds by laughing. I repeat, “No, really your choking me.” Ned “You think I’m joking you?” Me: “No, You Are CHOKING ME!” Ned: “Joking with you?” And just about the moment that I am going to lose consciousness we stop doing the neck massage. One more minute and I would have needed Eve Dallas.
Murder, fortunately, takes Eve away from sight of birthing mothers and their huge bellies and the constant blathering about babies. A young and promising accountant is found dead in her apartment, beaten and strangled. Shortly thereafter, her fiance is discovered to have been killed in a similar manner. These two people apparently knew too much and were silenced. Eve Dallas, however, speaks for the dead and is relentless in her pursuit of the killer(s).
Anyone who has read an Eve Dallas story will find the familiar. How you keep it fresh is to show Eve and Roarke butting heads, arguing and then making up. They are like us (like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are like us – richer and sexier) but all couples have problems and Eve and Roarke are not immune. Further, Eve’s job presents a serious obstacle to their marital happiness when Roarke is accused of a possible ethics violation. It strikes Roarke hard and places Eve in a bad situation. To complicate the situation a pregnant friend of Mavis’ goes missing, throwing Mavis and, thereby Eve, into an emotional maelstrom.
As always, there is a good police procedure story at the core. It’s a pleasure watch Eve Dallas unravel the mystery. The secondary focus is on Mavis’s pregnancy and Eve and Roarke’s terror of it. The banter is quite fun:
[ Leonardo] glanced in the direction of the restrooms, then back at Eve. "I’m terrified. I could pass out. What if I pass out?"
"Make sure you don’t land on me," Roarke told him.
"I’m going to drop them off at the entrance, then park." Roarke slid a glance toward Eve. "I’m not going to keep driving until I get to Mexico. I’ll be right along. My word."
"Just remember, if you’re not, I’ll hunt you down, disarticulate all your limbs, then feed them to small, ugly dogs."
The problems I find in the book is the contrived twist to the story which wasn’t much of a surprise; the redundancy in the give/take of Eve and Roarke’s relationship. I would like to see more giving by Eve, more softness from her in the relationship. After 11 years and 27 stories, surely she could grow a bit more and everything could be NOT about her all the time. I still gobbled the story up. B.