Friday, March 06, 2009

Promises In Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Promises In Death
Author: J.D. Robb

Type: Police Procedural/Futuristic (calling it what they call it)
Published: 2009

Blurb: Amaryllis Coltraine may have recently transferred to the New York City police force from Atlanta, but she's been a cop long enough to know how to defend herself against an assailant. When she's taken down just steps away from her apartment, killed with her own weapon, for Eve the victim isn't just "one of us."

Dallas's friend Chief Medical Examiner Morris had started a serious relationship with Coltraine, and from all accounts the two were headed for a happy future together. But someone has put an end to all that. After breaking the news to Morris, Eve starts questioning everyone, including Coltraine's squad, informants, and neighbors, while Eve's husband, Roarke, digs into computer data on the dead woman's life back in Atlanta. To their shock, they discover a connection between this case and their own painful, shadowy pasts.

The truth will need to be uncovered one layer at a time, starting with the box that arrives at Cop Central addressed to Eve, containing Coltraine's guns, badge, and a note from her killer: "You can have them back. Maybe someday soon, I'll be sending yours to somebody else." But Eve Dallas doesn't take too kindly to personal threats, and she is going to break this case, whatever it takes. And that's a promise.

Why: Duh.

The case: Good. Strong. Not as complex as the last one, but still interesting. I never guess the villian's identity in Robb's books. Don't know if that's because Robb, a master storyteller, twists and tugs the leads beyond my comprehension or if Robb, a master storyteller, pulls me so completely into the story that I can't look beyond or around the words as I read them. Either way, I'm always surprised to learn who-dunnit and always proud of her--much like Roarke--for figuring it out. I'm also always satisfied with the how of it--doesn't matter to me if she employs brilliant deductive reasoning or simply applies herself to the tedious grunt work until the answer shows up.

Funny. When I think of it, there is such a format here. The cop house and morgue, chain of command and procedure, character and role. It's like Law And Order--in all of its flavors--on TV. We love it. And we've loved it for years.

As for the personal layer to this case, that was...honest. I liked how the women acknowledged how little they knew the victim and more importantly, why. Perfectly juxtaposed against Louise's bridal shower--a total girl-fest. This one gave us as much girl-love as it did H/H love. Liked that.

The cast: True to character, always. And always with the same depth--it matters not if they have one or one hundred lines of dialogue. Summerset, for example. Again, master storyteller at work here, so I don't know if that is sheer talent or the benefit of more than two dozen character-growing books. I know in other series, regular (secondary) cast members don't always penetrate that surface-level purpose (be it to entertain or offer sage advice). Here, Robb's cast can hardly be called secondary anymore. Peabody, Feeney, McNab--they are primary characters with more than the occasional sub-plot spotlight. They are as integral as Eve and Roarke.

Oh, and there was mention of the Catholic priest from last year's installment. Didn't I tell ya? He belongs here, with this group.

Eve and Roarke: Casual, despite the appearance of a huge past nemesis. Static, aside from an unusual moment where Eve flirts for a date with Roarke. Overall, maybe a little muted--a nanosecond flare of his temper, her customary regret over worrying him, their lightening quick banter. It was all there, just...muted, or even-keeled. No unusually high or low points in humor, passion or understanding. Which did not translate into boring or disappointing. There were laughs, there was charm. Chuckles and sighs. Contentment instead of growing pains. But I think I might be ready for them, their marriage, to be challenged again.

I do love that they romp often. That's fun.

In short, I loved it.


  1. I finished it yesterday and I loved it. I think it was unusual because the whole "ensemble cast" was involved because of Ammy's link to Morris. It was emotional because it was hard to see Morris grieving. And it was also emotional because of the juxtaposition of Morris' situation with the whole "life goes on" and Louise's shower takes place, the guys go to Vegas, etc. There was this poignancy because had there been enough time, Ammy would have been "one of them." Great job in a series that shows no signs of going stale--IMHO of course.

  2. I still have the forst book in the series waiting for me somewhere in the TBR. Everyone seems to be enjoying them immensely! I need to dig it out one of these days.

  3. This one was yet another winner for JD Robb wasn't it?
    I'm really hoping that a certain character who has a lot in common with Roark comes back. I found this character to be quite interesting really.

  4. Don't feel bad, Barbara. I still haven't read any of them yet, either!

  5. Phyl and Kristie - Totally agree. This was another that satisfied. Easily. Did you ever think you'd stick with a series nearly 30 books long?

    Barbara and Lori - If you get around to Robb's world, and you like it, just think of how much enjoyment (nearly 30 books worth) you'll have to look forward to. WOOT!

  6. According to my reading list, this was book/novella #34. No, I certainly never thought I'd stick with a series with this degree of dedication--to the extent that I mark the release dates on my calendar months in advance. What did surprise me, though, was to realize that it was only Eve & Roarke's 2nd wedding anniversary. For some reason I thought it was to be their 3rd. Those two have had a very eventful 2 years! At any rate, credit where credit is due--Nora's ability to keep the storylines fresh and her characters interesting speaks volumes about her talent. We're lucky readers.

  7. Thanks Phyl! So OVER 30 books, wow. You know, I know of no other characters as well known among readers. Hell, I think even non-Robb readers recognize the names "Eve" and "Roarke". Right Lori?

  8. I just got it this morning and can't wait to get home and read it. (must admit that there was some quick reading of the first chapter squeezed in before work.)

    I have been reading this series since I was in high school and still look forward to every book that comes out. I have seen where people are listing this one as #34, but according to my list it is #33. I would be interested in seeing Phyl's list so that I can figure out where I missed one...

  9. Emily,

    The complete list is on Nora Roberts' website. I just recounted and it is 34. Do you have "Remember When" on your list? That's an easy one to overlook since "in death" isn't part of the title. Otherwise, you might have missed a novella.


Have you read it? What do you think?

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