REVIEW: Shadows in Death by JD Robb, narrated by Susan Ericksen

New York cityscape at night in the rain, focus on a concrete arch, two police cars with their lights, one on either side of the archCW: Rape, graphic violence

Why I read it:  This is one from my own TBL.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Lt. Eve Dallas is about to walk into the shadows of her husband’s dangerous past.

As it often did since he’d married a cop, murder interrupted more pleasant activities. Then again, Roarke supposed, the woman lying in a pool of her own blood a few steps inside the arch in Washington Square Park had a heftier complaint.

When a night out at the theatre is interrupted by the murder of a young woman in Washington Square Park, it seems like an ordinary case for Detective Eve Dallas and her team. But when Roarke spots a shadow from his past in the crowd, Eve realises that this case is far from business as usual.

Eve has two complex cases on her hands – the shocking murder of this wealthy young mother and tracking down the shadow before he can strike again, this time much closer to home. Eve is well used to being the hunter, but how will she cope when the tables are turned? As Eve and the team follow leads to Roarke’s hometown in Ireland, the race is on to stop the shadow making his next move . . .

What worked for me (and what didn’t): I have enjoyed the In Death series for many years. Eve Dallas, Roarke, Peabody, McNab, Mira and the rest are kind of like family now, I feel like I know them so well. Right now I’m reading fewer and fewer books with police officers as main characters but I make exception for Eve. Maybe that was a mistake this time.

Right up until the last section of the book, I enjoyed it and it was the reliably good story I’ve come to expect from JD Robb and the In Death series. Yes, there’s a lot about cops and how hard they work and how much good they do yada yada but they’re the cops of the future and Eve and her squad in Cop Central have all been “good cops” so I didn’t have to work too hard to think of them as different to the police I see all too often on my social media feed brutalising people, particularly people of colour.

A contract killer does a murder in New York which falls to Eve to solve. It turns out this killer, Lorcan Cobb (I’ve never heard the name Lorcan before but Google tells me it’s Irish), is a former associate of Roarke’s. They were never friends. Cobb believes he’s the rightful heir to the “legacy” of Patrick Roarke, Roarke’s dear old dad. Biologically he is not but perhaps in every other way he is because he is most definitely not a good guy. Cobb has a massive hard-on to kill Roarke and cause him pain beforehand so Eve and anyone else Roarke cares about are at risk while Cobb remains on the loose.

There is a fairly detailed (and very unnecessary) depiction of a rape scene later in the book which I could have done without.  There are a couple of uses of a word which is a racial slur associated with Romany people and not, in fact, a fashion description. (Really, stop doing this.)

The series is full of graphic violence which I can read without too much difficulty for the most part and up until the later parts of the book things progressed interestingly enough and along the lines of previous books in the series. But then things took a bit of a ridiculous turn and later, a disappointing one.

Mild spoiler ahead. Proceed at your own risk.

At one point in the story, the entire Homocide squad plus Captain Feeney, Callendar and McNab from EDD AND Commander Whitney all leave New York for [redacted]. There’s a bit of hand-waving to the effect that the Commander will somehow arrange for other cops to look after New York’s murders while they’re all away (for an, at that time, unspecified period) but the idea was just preposterous. I mean, come on now.

The disappointing part was after – remember: spoiler alert – the arrest was made and Eve decides it would be perfectly fine to let Roarke fight Cobb mano-a-mano in a pseudo boxing match whereby for the most part Roarke just beats Cobb up, all while the New York cops cheer him on from the sidelines. Recall, this includes Commander Whitney. If Roarke wanted to beat up Cobb (and as a concept I have no objection) why could it not have been part of the arrest process and at least some attempt to have made it in self-defense or in defense of others? There was really no excuse for this other than for Roarke to feel better because he wanted to get to punching. *sigh*  Frankly, I expect better of Eve. Where are her ethics?? And what the hell Jack Whitney?? All of the New York cops disappointed me here. I said earlier that the officers of the Cop Central homicide squad have all been “good cops”. They were not good cops here. Yes, Lorcan Cobb is a terrible guy but so what? Cops are supposed to be held to a higher standard than that.

What else? I listened to the audiobook and, as usual, Susan Ericksen, did a standout job of the narration. I so closely associate her voice with the In Death series now I’m afraid I can’t listen to her narrate anything else. I just hear Eve Dallas when she speaks (or, if there’s an Irish accent, Roarke). The characters are well differentiated, the tone, pacing and emotion are all great. After 51 books and however many novellas, there’s not much  more to say about how good Ms. Ericksen’s performance is.

Grading this one was hard. Right up until the ridiculous, I was solidly in the B range. The ridiculous made me roll my eyes and dropped it down a bit and the disappointing dropped it significantly further. But the narration was fabulous and audiobooks get graded for both content and narration so I ended up with a C.

Grade: C




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