Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review: Calculated in Death by J.D. Robb

Calculated in Death by J.D. Robb
published by Putnam in February 2013
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...
Genre: Romantic suspense, Mystery/Thriller
Series: In Death, Book #36

The Story: Well for once, the blurb is not only accurate, but says it all. Rare, but it happens :) All I'll add is that in addition to the case, our beloved characters are also preparing themselves for the premiere of The Icove Agenda, so it gives you an idea of the timeline.

My Opinion: Seriously, what can I say about Calculated in Death that has not been said already for the other installments of the series? When you pick up the 36th book in a series, you know what to expect... and so in that regard, I think that Ms Robb did a good job at delivering it. I know some fans are going to be disappointed because Calculated in Death is another installment that focuses on the case/mystery and therefore there's not much development in Eve and Roarke's relationship, but nonetheless, it was another solid book :)

Overall, I thought the case was interesting. One of the definite strengths of the In Death series is the investigative aspect of the mystery/case. I like that Ms Robb shows how much leg work Eve and her gang need to do in order to find clues, to arrest the culprits, to dot the "i" and cross the "t" in order for the charges to stick. There are hints, clues and foreshadowing... and those are elements that are missing in a lot of romantic suspense nowadays. Also, I really liked the fact that in Calculated in Death, Eve didn't zoom in right away on the culprit like in the last couple of books. She had a few suspects and it could really have been any of them. Something else about this case is that Ms Robb could have taken it in a few different directions, so it kept the readers guessing which is always good.

As usual, it was fun to revisit the gang again :) As I mentioned above, they were getting ready for the premiere of The Icove Agenda and the excitement was fun. To see Peabody enthusiastic about her dress and Feeney grumbled about the monkey suit LOL. I also think Ms Robb did a good job at not inundating the storyline with past characters, to have only those who are relevant.

The one thing that didn't work for me in Calculated in Death was Eve using herself as bait to attract the killer. This is not something new, but the timing was: during the premiere. I just thought that was a bit unbelievable. No matter how organized, prepared you are, there are so many risks involved, so many unexpected things that can happen. Furthermore, there's the number of civilians - most of them rich and famous - and the cameras present! It seemed so improbable to me that Eve's superiors would have approved of Eve's scheme. It just didn't work for me.

While I think Calculated in Death was a good installment, I do feel the books are getting repetitive ^_^; The cases are different - true, but the way the investigations are handled are not... As much as I enjoy the books, if it continues this way, it'll take a toll on the series. That's why I think it's time for Ms Robb to shake things up and add some conflicts. It could be between Roarke and Eve, Eve and Peabody or whatever... but it's time to get our beloved characters out of their rut. Or else, it's perhaps time to start wrapping up the series...

The Grade: B.