It's back to the future again and J.D. Robb, aka Nora Roberts, has put exactly the right mix of romance and mystery into her latest installment of the "Death" novels. Sometimes, a series can get stale after an author pumps out so many. Here, J.D. Robb proves that she is nowhere near her limit. In VISIONS IN DEATH, she ratchets up the tension with a death grip on her readers.
Lt. Eve Dallas is still cracking wise as she deals with her subordinates in the New York Police and Security Department --- and the world in general. Her partner, Delia Peabody, has grown into a superb foil for Dallas, with witty comebacks that often earn her withering looks from the lieutenant. This time, however, they both need the levity their repartee creates, particularly with a brutal serial killer on the loose in their city. His profile depicts him as an especially vicious murderer, raping and mutilating his prey in an escalating rage. Each victim weighs personally on Dallas, leaving her with a load of guilt and dredging up nasty memories from her childhood. The sooner she captures this guy, the easier she will rest --- at least until the next big case.
Along with Detective Peabody and the usual forensics team, Eve's multi-billionaire husband, Roarke, assists with the investigation whenever possible. He can do things best not talked about down at NYPSD. His invaluable help, though, is most welcome. And it sort of keeps the couple together --- and keeps readers loving them. Theirs is a relationship that just gets enviably steamier. One can't help but marvel at their love.
Reading VISIONS IN DEATH is like visiting an old friend --- a surly, often testy old friend, but an old friend nonetheless. I'm not sure if Robb's style has smoothed out, if the plot is a particularly engaging one, or if it is just a comfortable tale to curl up with on a string of hot summer days --- but I found myself totally addicted to this one. Don't be tempted to rush through the ending, either. You might miss something. Robb has a few blockbuster surprises in store, right up to the last, highly satisfying page.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 24, 2011