Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Review: Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb

Hi everyone! How are you doing? Sorry for the lack of posts! :( I didn't mean to neglect the blog, but you know how it is... Curling has kept me extremely busy in February and I'm still trying to recover from it. Doesn't help that I have a cold at the moment, sigh. But I'm trying!

To start up things again, I decided to go with a review of Concealed in Death. Enjoy!

Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb
published by Putnam in February 2014
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.
Genre: Romantic suspense, Mystery/Thriller
Series: In Death, Book #38

The Story: It's pretty much as the blurb described. Roarke has acquired a new building that he plans to turn into a refuge for the troubled and lost. As the owner, he gets to swing the sledgehammer first... only to discover a fake wall and two skeletal remains. Of course, he immediately calls his cop to the scene.  Once the crime scene is processed, Eve and Peabody find themselves in charge of an investigation involving a total of 12 remains - all of girls between 10 and 15 according to their new forensic anthropologist's initial report.

During the investigation, Eve and Peabody learn that Roarke's building used to be a shelter for kids called The Sanctuary. The organization, ran by two siblings, was helped by a generous benefactor and moved to a new location 15 years ago... Which would be the time around which the murders took place. Furthermore, many of the victims had connections with The Sanctuary whether as short-term or long-term residents.

Eve and Roarke both feel a connection with these girls as both had bad childhood. However, it hits even closer to home when it turns out that Mavis knew some of the victims...

My Opinion: It's hard to believe the In Death series is already 38 books long and still going strong. That being said, every series has ups and downs and the In Death series is no exception. I feel that lately, we've been in one of the downs... and while Concealed in Death didn't pull us out, it's a step in the right direction :)

For me, Concealed in Death started out strong. What made it stand out was the case, very different from what Eve and Peabody usually deal with because the time at which the murders were committed. In truth, even though the bodies have only been just discovered, this investigation was more a cold case than an active one and that meant different dynamics. I liked that this investigation only involved a handful of people with Eve and Peabody at the front. In some ways, it also set the tone to the book limiting the appearances of the secondary characters. Oh don't get me wrong, I love Eve and Roarke's entourage... but having all the cast show up in every book makes it feel forced and very predictable at times. So it was nice to get a break in Concealed in Death, almost like going back to the basis.

However, having a cold case as the focus of the book wasn't all good. As much as I liked the different dynamics it engendered, I have to admit that there was a definite lack of action and that towards the end, the investigation felt draggy and boring ^_^; There wasn't that "edge of your seat" feeling or the need to resolve the case as soon as possible because of the nature of the case and that's not a good thing in a romantic suspense :( I think Ms Robb should have added another smaller investigation or use the opportunity to explore something such as a conflict between Eve and Roarke or something... For the case, it didn't help that once again, Eve was able to zoom in almost immediately on the culprit or that little tiny detail that would point her in the right direction. This is a complaint I've had for several books now. It has come to a point that I almost wish Eve would be wrong ^_^; I know she has good instinct, but it kind of ruins the mystery a bit. Luckily, Ms Robb is a good author and is able to plant the clues and build the case around Eve's gut feeling... but it'd be nice if someone else like Peabody had the feeling or if it wasn't too obvious.

Aside from the case, there wasn't much going on on the personal front. Ms Robb tried to connect Eve and Roarke to the case because of their rotten childhoods. I understood where Ms Robb was going, but I didn't really feel it. It's not really anything we haven't read before ^_^; I know that the past is what shaped Eve and Roarke into who they are today, but I feel it'd be nice if they could focus on something different... Also, Eve's dreams used to make sense to me, but not anymore. Always dreaming about her cases can't be a good thing and quite frankly, I find those passage to be boring. In addition, it'd be nice if she could stop finding clues in her dreams ^_^; The one thing that worked for me was connecting the case to Mavis. That's something I actually didn't expect, although looking back, it was quite obvious. It was also nice to learn more about Mavis, made us understand her more... and after 38 books, I think it was time :) I'm also curious to see if Quilla will become a recurring character or not. I liked that spunky teen :P

My Grade: C+. Concealed in Death wasn't my favorite In Death book and looking back, I had a lot of issues with it. However, it some important ways, it different than the previous books and that's giving me hope for the future of the series.