Book Review, Mystery, Science Fiction

Book Review: Time of Death by J.D. Robb

Before I review this book, let me just say that I’m having nightmares – every freaking night – thanks to Greg Bear’s The Forge of God. I keep dreaming about the end of the world scene in his book. It’s been ages since a book affected me so strongly. Talk about a skilled writer….

Now on to today’s review: Time of Death by J.D. Robb

 

This is yet another book in the continually-growing Eve Dallas sage by J.D. Robb. The Eve Dallas mysteries are sci-fi, futuristic mysteries featuring NYC Homicide Detective Eve Dallas, her sidekick Lt. Delia Peabody, a cast of colorful NYP characters, and the uber-wealthy Roare, a sort of “he’s not a jerk” version of Donald Trump (but handsome, Irish, and without the bad comb-over.)

Each mystery can be read on its own, but it helps to start with the first book in the “In Death” series. The first book sets the stage for Eve and Roarke’s unusual romance and the back story surrounding Eve’s horrible childhood that propelled her into fighting for justice for murder victims.

Time of Death consists of three short novellas without the side stories typically found in the “In Death” series of books. The stories are Eternity in Death, Ritual in Death and Missing in Death.  Among the novellas, the first two are similar, involving ritualistic murders, and the last one involves a murder aboard the Staten Island ferry with a disappearing body. Eternity in Death plays with the concept of the vampire cult, those fetishist who want to believe they are actually vampires. Ritual in Death involves a Satan-worshipping cult who commits a murder in one of Roarke’s hotels. Of the three novellas, Eternity was my favorite, but none of them really stood out as spectacular.

J.D. Robb is the pseudonym for prolific mystery and romance novelist Nora Roberts. If you have ever read a Nora Roberts novel, you know that you can hurt yourself trying to hold her books with one hand; they’re huge tomes, easily passing the 300 page mark or more.  Delightful, but long. And that’s where Robb/Roberts shines — in the longer novel, not the novella.

While it was fun to tag along on three more mysteries with characters I’ve grown fond of over the years, as mysteries each of these stories lacked substance. It was clear in the first two novellas who the murderers were, without the usual red herrings that make murder mysteries fun. The last novel was just plain bad; there’s no clue as to who the murderer is, and when he is uncovered it feels like a “So what? What just happened?” kind of feeling.  I think that if this wasn’t a J.D. Robb book, it wouldn’t have been published.

I missed the subplots that Robb/R0berts excels at. In a typically In Death book, we learn more about each of the secondary characters. Peabody and her Free Ager family; her lover, McNab; Feeney, Eve’s mentor; Dr. Mira, the department psychiatrist; Leonardo and Mavis, Eve’s friends; and so on. Even learning more about Roarke’s father figure and major domo, Sommerset, is interesting.  The novellas are too short to include much of a subplot, and I felt they lacked it.

So all in all, this was a good paperback to borrow from the library and a quick read while I was on vacation last week, but not one I’d recommend reading again. If you’re a fan of the J.D. Robb books, it might be worth a read. Otherwise, skip it.

Two stars out of five.

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