TREACHERY IN DEATH is the latest installment in the bestselling and addicting series featuring New York homicide lieutenant Eve Dallas, set 50 or so years in the future in a city that is familiar yet gadget-exotic. J.D. Robb is able to keep these great stories coming due in large part to her ability to feature a change-up of one sort or another in each novel while keeping them firmly grounded and familiar with a supporting cast.
The latter is anchored primarily by Roarke, Dallas's husband, a legitimate businessman with a criminal background who has feet firmly planted in both worlds. Summerset, Roarke's manservant, provides a sarcastic foil and target for sharp-witted repartee between himself and Dallas, while Peabody, Dallas's junior partner in homicide, is still learning the ropes and is a bit tentative --- maybe a little too eager to please, but all the more realistic for it. Throw in a number of other characters who rotate in and out of Dallas's life, add a perplexing mystery, and you have a series that keeps you coming back again and again.
I mentioned change-ups earlier. Sometimes Robb keeps the answer to the whodunit to herself; at other points, the identity of the killer is known almost immediately. In any case, it is ultimately up to Roarke to gather enough evidence to bring justice --- rough or otherwise --- to the perpetrator. In TREACHERY IN DEATH, it is Peabody who obtains the murderer's confession at the beginning of the book. To wit, she overhears two fellow police officers arguing, and in a few short minutes, the two have offered what amounts to a de facto disclosure of corruption and murder. This is too big for Peabody to handle alone; she immediately takes it to Dallas, who begins working carefully to build a case against the two officers.
"Carefully" is the watchword here; one of the policemen overheard by Peabody is Rene Oberman, herself a lieutenant in another division. Oberman has herself fast-tracked for advancement and is a legacy of sorts, given that her father was a highly respected and revered commander in the NYPSD. And while Oberman has neither earned nor received the same degree of respect that he had, she is not to be taken lightly, given that anything that besmirches her reputation will sully his as well.
What follows is a game of cat and mouse, where the roles are blurred and switched. Oberman is arguably Dallas's most dangerous adversary to date and, indeed, her most treacherous one. For Dallas, there is nothing worse than a crooked cop, and Oberman, despite her pedigree --- or maybe because of it --- is badly bent. The ending, while perhaps predictable, is no less exciting for being so, and a fitting conclusion to the sharp sparring between the adversaries and their minions that takes place throughout the book.
Whether you choose to classify these novels as romantic suspense, science fiction, or mystery --- any of which would be applicable --- they all are fabulous stories that will keep you reading for hours. If you're unfamiliar with Dallas and her futuristic but familiar world, TREACHERY IN DEATH is an excellent place to make your acquaintance.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 28, 2011