Leverage in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel (In Death, Book 47)
By the time a series has reached 47 volumes, its loyal readers have fallen into two camps. The ones who understand what writing one book means, never mind several dozen, pull up short and go, “Whoa! How can she possibly do it? The series must be getting stale by now!” Other fans just say, “Great! The next one is out! Gotta read it right now!”
Thus greets the release of the latest volume in J. D. Robb’s In Death series. For this 47th story, only non-fans or super-picky-snarky ones will be disappointed. The rest of us will jump in and go for the ride, coming out satisfied.
The author, pen name for the prolific Nora Roberts, has once again delivered an engaging police procedural set in futuristic New York City. This environment is familiar from today but has a speculative twist, making it easy to slide into and believe.
The one thing that never changes is human beings. This series could be set on the moon, or a few centuries ago on Earth, and the people would still be as credible. The fact that the series is character driven, and the troupe of characters has matured without radically changing, sustains its quality.
On top of that, the series is a romance. Literary purists might hiss at the thought, but Robb lives within her characters and knows how to blend the mindsets and emotions of a homicide detective and a financial wizard into a passionate affair.
The detective is the main character, Lieutenant Eve Dallas; the wizard is her reformed-thief Irish husband, Roarke. Case after case, they find a way to work together to solve the crime, meanwhile going through the high-stress dynamics of remaining married.
Their relationship, as well as their individuality, is what makes this series work. Although Eve as a cop is the goddess of justice, her feet never leave the ground. And although Rourke as a financial and electronics genius is packaged as the type of man to make many women swoon, in the end he’s just a guy.
As a couple they make wild and crazy or tender love, they fight, they negotiate, they cohabit, they partner, they athletically train, they haggle, they explore each other’s deep secrets and alienations and dark histories—and they share a bunch of fabulous friends and colleagues.
In this adventure, they’re up against money types, allowing Roarke to contribute significantly toward solving the case. The evildoers have figured out how to leverage situations into financial gain, choosing unexpected venues to snatch their quick profit. How they do it enters Eve’s realm: cold-bloodedly killing people to create the financial crises from which they profit.
Eve’s 47 volumes worth of experience have given her the ability to sort grain from chaff in the clues department. Early in every case, she discards the unlikely for the likely and starts seeing patterns well before anyone else. Of course, as a cop she must pursue evidence and work within a legal framework, which is what carries the story as a police procedural.
Most gratifying is the fact that Eve and Roarke are smart. Sure, they make mistakes—who doesn’t?—but those are supported by the context of the story and ongoing character development. The reader is never left thinking these characters are “duh.” Instead, we are given the emotional satisfaction of good triumphing over evil, usually at high risk. That keeps things exciting, and pages a-turning.
Established fans will gobble up Leverage in Death as eagerly as the previous volumes. New readers who like this sort of thing will soon become fans, especially if they start with volume one: Naked in Death. That will leave them 46 more adventures to follow. Probably 48 by the time they catch up to Ms. Robb’s output. She gives us a new adventure or two every year.