Leverage in Death by J.D. Robb (SF/Crime Novel, September 2018).
The seemingly endless “In Death” series blends multiple genres (crime/mystery, near-future SF, and erotic romance) to very entertaining effect. It’s set roughly 40 years in the future, in New York City and features redoubtable New York Homicide Lieutenant Eve Dallas, her super-rich businessman husband (and roguish onetime criminal) Roarke, along with tech-savvy backup crew of (often quirky, always interesting) cops.
The latest installment revolves around a pair of ruthlessly greedy baddies with an especially nasty MO. They target stable and devoted family men who have loving wives and young children. Invading their homes, they abuse and threaten each family in turn, strapping explosive suicide vests on the husband and convincing him that, if he fails to carry out an attack on a specific target, his spouse and child will die horribly. Having researched each man and his position carefully, these scheming criminals will make a financial killing along with literal mass-murder in the aftermath of each horrific bombing.
Eve, Roarke and company first have to figure out what the pair get out of these vicious events (both financially and emotionally), then must identify the suspects and finally rush to abort the final acts of this murderous crime spree. Fans of this long-running series will know that, ultimately, the bad guys will be stopped. As always, the complex and puzzling mayhem, along with the regular characters’ interactions are of particular interest here.
The near-future elements add a bit of extra spice, and so does the erotic side of the Dallas/Roarke relationship. This time out, there’s a minor (but still appealing) subplot related to past books in the series. Eve’s reporter friend has been writing true-crime accounts of her cases and a movie version of one is up for a slew of Oscars. All the glitz and glamour of the Academy Awards is a purely unwelcome distraction to the ever-focused Dallas. of course. But will her star-struck partner, Detective Peabody, and others get to attend (or will the current investigation force them to miss out)?
Small spoiler (which should be no surprise to anyone who’s ever read this series): Dallas will come through on this front, as well. Peabody and her tech-geek-cop boyfriend will get to bask in the film world’s glitter. And need I bother to report that the movie version wins a pile of awards?
Robb is, of course, the best-selling pen name for one of the world’s best-selling and most award-winning author’s of romantic fiction. If you don’t know her by that other name, well, I’m not telling. In any case, she continues to be incredibly prolific while maintaining a very high standard of writing.