Encore in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel (In Death, 56)
“It’s unusual to find a crime page-turner that’s this compelling while also probing affection and loyalty, without gore or grotesque maneuvers. Motive, means, opportunity—Encore in Death is classic crime fiction at its best.”
Setting the Eve Dallas crime thrillers ahead in time, with a few more technological advances, doesn’t really give this homicide detective any more of an edge than today’s savvy sleuths. After all, even if test results come more quickly and communication is fine-tuned, solving a crime still comes down to getting inside the minds and emotions of potential suspects.
So when theatrical stars Eliza Lane and her husband Brant Fitzhugh throw an A-lister gala for patrons of their work, just as Eliza’s new Broadway show is about to open in the year 2036, it turns out that Brant’s sudden death is from cyanide, that well-known almond-scented poison. And the roster of suspects is no different than today’s would be: friends true or false, family, lovers, and competitors for the spotlight and awards.
But really, who could want to hurt Brant? His wife, a much edgier and sharp-tongued person, can’t imagine any reason. “Brant didn’t like conflict, and found ways to avoid it,” Eliza sums him up. Generous as an actor, a friend, a spouse, and even philanthropist, his death comes from toasting his wife with a sip from her specially prepared champagne cocktail. So who was the intended victim—husband or wife?
J. D. Robb’s polished and well-paced writing, honed in more than 200 novels so far, keeps the narrative on the move. Its second line of action takes place between Eve and her own husband, the wealthy Irish entrepreneur Roarke—who, whether by contagion or interest, is starting to “think like a cop” and lending a hand to Eve and her investigation. Eve spots this even before Roarke’s willing to admit he’s caught up in puzzle and how to solve it, as she outlines the need to follow the money here, and says she’ll take a look. Roarke steps right into her trap:
“I could do that for you while you dig down on the cast and crew. You may find it’s not the person who didn’t get the part, but a friend—as you were looking at Sylvie—a relative, a lover. Someone who’d do the deed for someone else.”
Roarke’s ability to quickly deep dive into financials adds power to the investigation; his deft and determined efforts to support Eve’s work and the couple’s gentle jockeying in support of each other add charm and passion (and some lovely teasing) to the story, too.
As Robb lays out the plot with her quick professional skills, she paints solid marriages just as effectively. It’s unusual to find a crime page-turner that’s this compelling while also probing affection and loyalty, without gore or grotesque maneuvers. Motive, means, opportunity—Encore in Death is classic crime fiction at its best.