ECHOES IN DEATH – J.D. ROBB

I sometimes forget that crime writer J.D. Robb has another persona in Nora Roberts, author of romantic novels. This is a woman who must be writing constantly… she has almost fifty crime novels to her name and I have no idea how many romantic novels! Her crime novels are usually best sellers and I know her romances are widely read!

There are a number of fictional principal characters who feature in her crime novels, the one about whom I have read most often is Lieutenant Eve Dallas. Happily married to a millionaire Irishman named Roarke, a former high profile burglar and now a well established and respected businessman.
She also has a quirky off-sider named Peabody, who injects a touch of humour into the dialogue.

Robb’s books usually start off quite dramatically and this one is no exception. On their way home from a function, Eve and Roarke are startled to have a young, naked and bleeding woman stumble onto the road in front of them… and from there the story takes off.

She has been stripped, raped, and beaten in the home she shared with her wealthy doctor husband and it transpires that he has been murdered in the attack. Injured, terrified and almost incoherent, victim Daphne recounts their experience of arriving home and being attacked in their own bedroom by ‘a devil’, of hearing haunting music, and of smelling sulphur.

In the course of her investigation, Eve pieces together a picture of their live together and concludes that Dr.Strazza had probably been a controlling, bullying man who dominated his much younger and very beautiful wife.

As she proceeds with her investigation, she pieces together their social life, their friends and their relationships and this leads her to discover two similar cases where the women have been raped and beaten, with their husbands as spectators. The attacker has also assumed a threatening character role.

However, the difference is that in previous attacks the men had been beaten severely but not killed. Eve’s fear is that having killed once, the murderer will now seek the same thrill again.

Eve painstakingly backtracks the movements and social lives of the couples involved and finds there are common links, one of which is that the women are all been beautiful and there have been several occasions on which they have all attended the same functions. This leads her to conclude that the murderer is probably someone who moves in their own social circles.

Gradually and painstakingly she creates a total picture, link by link, ..
not without drama along the way and the revival of painful memories from her own past…and of course, ‘gets her man’ in the end!

One aspect of the book I find odd is that is set in the future and droids and high tech are very much part of the scene. I can’t see the justification for this as there is no real relevance to the storyline.

I also feel we could be spared her “Nora Roberts” moments when she describes the lengthy romantic bedroom scenes between Eve and Raarke. (But that is just me being curmudgeonly!)

Apart from these minor grumbles, it is a well written and absorbing story.

Ann Creber
(The Good Life on 3MDR 97.1
Every Monday 3.00-5.00 P.M.)

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