Nine-year-old Nixie Swisher is having trouble sleeping and slips
downstairs into the kitchen for a middle-of-the-night soda, near
the housekeeper's living quarters. She sees a shadow across the
wall in the woman's room and instinctively hides under a bench.
Later, when the shadows leave the house, she discovers that her
parents, brother and best friend are dead. Nixie's 911 call brings
Lieutenant Eve Dallas and company into the picture. The hard-nosed
New York City police detective knows that the little girl is still
in grave danger from the methodical murderers and brings her home
Eve's own childhood becomes a living nightmare for her again.
Through Nixie's night terrors, Eve relives those of her own,
memories of abuse and death. So close to her own battered psyche,
she has difficulty relating to the terrified child. The memories
are too vivid for her to set aside. But her husband, Roarke, takes
the child under his wing and makes her safety his prime concern.
Where Eve sees black and white, good and evil, Roarke responds to
trials with emotion and empathy.
Action takes place in the year 2059. Security systems include night
vision. Vehicles have forward and sideways abilities.
Communications systems are termed "Links." The human psyche is the
recognizable bond to the reader's era of the first decade of 2000.
Futuristic devices adorn Roarke's house; holograms flash in screens
designed to scintillate and amuse. Eve can be transported from a
rapid-fire kickboxing contest with two opponents attacking
full-force to a serene tropical island complete with tantalizing
romantic blossoms to soothe and sexually excite. The set-up becomes
active by the touch of a button.
J.D. Robb's vivid description of homicide scenes, police activity,
and detective conferencing keeps the action moving forward toward
its resolution. It was difficult to frame a solid word-portrait of
the characters. Action overrides emotion in Eve's world. She's
tough but excites little sympathy other than a hope to solve the
The ritualistic murders have threads of commonality to several
additional murders, both in the distant past and the present.
Stitching together these fragile ties to formulate possible motive
in the Swisher case is Eve's most difficult task. With her team,
she unravels a maze of tangled clues to solve the mystery. Roarke
aids them in the search for answers with his expertise in business
and high-tech areas. His feelings for Nixie spur him forward.
Eve has taken the case personally and vows to both protect Nixie
and find the evil killers. Emotional ties are tough for Eve, but
she cleans her childhood memory closet of cobwebs in the
The cop story is fresh because it takes place in the future, with
variations on daily lifestyles. Eve's relationships with her
co-workers, husband, suspects and acquaintances make for a good
read. One cheers for the crime's solution, but the heroine could be
a bit less mechanical.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 23, 2011