Saturday, June 19, 2010

Portrait In Death by JD Robb

After a tip from a reporter, Eve Dallas finds the body of a young woman in a dumpster on Delancey Street. Just hours before, the news station had mysteriously received a portfolio of professional portraits of the woman. The photos seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary for any pretty young woman starting a modeling career. Except she wasn't a mode;. And the photos were taken after she was murdered.

Now Eve is on the trail of a killer who's a perfectionist and an artist. He carefully observes and records his victims' every move. And he has a mission: to own every beautiful young woman's innocence, to capture their youth and vitality - in one fateful shot...


I actually read this for the challenge last month, but never really got around to reviewing it properly.

As so many have pointed out, some of the In Death books are heavy on the relationship, some are heavy on the procedural. This one is all about Roarke, and the case takes a complete backseat. Someone is killing young adults, who seem to have the world at their feet. Well-liked, beautiful people. Eve and the team have to figure out who is doing the killing before more are murdered.

In this book, Eve learns she can rely on her team. They can do the work, and she learns to trust that it will still be there when she gets back in. It's a huge step for her, both in continuing her realization that she isn't all alone in this world, and that she can ask for help and will receive it.

I love how Eve is on top of the world over Summerset's vacation and when that is ruined by an accident, she can't help but worry about him.

Eve and Peabody are getting closer. There's always been great banter, but Peabody is beginning to really take great pleasure in baiting Eve about her relationship with McNab.
"So why is it my aide and Feeney's detective are chatting about the information in my investigation?

"It just happened to come up - between kissy noises." She smiled, pleased when Eve's eye twitched. "And sexual innuendos."

"As soon as this case is closed, I'm putting in for a new aide - one who has no sexual drive whatsoever - and transporting you to Files."

"Awww. Now that you've hurt my feelings, I'm not inclined to share my sandwich."

"What kind is it?"



Delicately, Eve brushed cookie crumbs off her shirt. "Smartasses always pay."

"You never do," Peabody said under her breath.

Eve lets Peabody take a cold case and work it. Here is more on their growing professional relationship. Eve is trusting Peabody, and now needs to get Peabody to trust herself in order to advance her career. Peabody begins conducting interviews on her own case. One of the people she interviews is named Catstevens. I appreciated the reference.

In this book, we see Eve set aside her case for probably the first time, and put Roarke first, above everything. Their situation is a juxtaposition of their usual dynamics, with Eve being lost and Roarke the rock. Here, Roarke is completely out of his element, lost, adrift, and Eve is his strength, his anchor.

In the meantime, Roarke learns startling news about his mother from a counselor from Ireland who is working at Louise's shelter. Stunned, hurt, shocked, he actually initiates some nastiness between himself and Eve. He is well on the way to getting himself drunk in this scene:
"Roarke - "

"Goddamn it, Eve. I'm busy here." He snapped it out, and stopped her in her tracks."Give me some fucking space, will you? I'm not in the mood to chat or for a quick shag or a replay of your day."

Insult and anger lit her face. "Just what the hell are you in the mood for?"

"To be left alone to do what I'm set to do here."
I can't stand having you here, can't stand doing what I'm doing.

"The time I spend diddling around with your work takes away from my own, and I've got to make it up when I choose. As the bloody door was locked, it might've occurred to you that I didn't want to be interrupted. I've a great deal to do, so why don't you be about your own? I've no doubt you've plenty of the dead to keep you occupied for one evening."

"Yeah." She nodded slowly, and the temper in her eyes had faded into astonished hurt. "I've always got the dead. I'll just get the hell out of your way."

She strode for the door, heard the locks whisper open even before she reached it. The instant she was through, it shut and locked tight.

Inside, Roarke stared into his glass, then simply hurled it against the wall so the crystal showered to the floor like lethal tears.

Ouch. So unlike him, and Eve is totally baffled. In the morning, Roarke is feeling so guilty.
"He'd have a shower, some food, make some excuse to Eve for his behavior the night before. But she wasn't there. The sheets were in tangles, which told him she'd spent as poor a night as he had. Guilt twisted inside him as he wondered if she'd been plagued by nightmares.

She never slept well without him. He knew that.

He saw the memo, picked it up.

"I caught a case. I don't know when I'll be back."

Feeling foolish, feeling raw, he played it back twice just to hear her voice. Then closing his fist around the little cube, he sat on the side of the bed.
Alone, he grieved for a woman he'd never known, and ached for the only one he'd ever loved.

Damn, her prose is so perfect.

They have a huge confrontation about Roarke's attitude, and it is heartwrenching. (For those who want to go back and reread it, p180-188.) Holy cow, so perfectly written. Eve is filled with anxiety as she tries to figure out what is wrong. Is Roarke ill? Did he lose all his money? Has he fallen out of love with her?

It's this last one that makes him realize how much he's hurt Eve while trying to work through this on his own. Suffice to say, it's one of the rawest, most intense scenes ever between them.

In Ireland, where he goes to follow up on his revelations, he has this to say to Eve: (grab a kleenex!)
"I couldn't find my balance, he repeated, until I stood out there in the mist of the morning and saw you. Simple as that for me, it seems. There she is, so my life's where it should be, whatever's going on around it. You know the worst of me, but you came. I think what's here, though I don't understand it all yet, haven't taken it all in, may be the best of me. I want you to be part of that."


Not much else to say. The case is solved, blah blah blah, but after that little speech from Roarke? Yeah. Like I said, not much else to say here.


  1. This is one of my favorites in the series. I love how the dynamics shift here. How Eve must take care of Roarke for once. The scenes you quoted..oh how I grieve for them both. Such a beautiful book, this.

    Now I'm going to have to go re-read. Thanks for including the page number!

  2. I just did a reread of this one not long ago and now you make me want to do another one too *g*. Out of the vast number of the In Death books, this one is my favourite. While I love Roarke to pieces and pieces, seeing him lost and vulnerable really humanizes him and gives him another layer for Roarke love. I just wish there were more books where the suspense took more of a back seat to the romance

  3. This book makes Roarke very human to the readers :) It was great to see one so focused on Roarke and have Eve there for him.

  4. Oh, you've made me want to go and read it all over again. I'll have to get this one on audio too I think!

    I'm with Kristie J - I love the books where the case takes a backseat to the relationship.

    Oh man, I just love this series!

  5. You pull some of the best scenes.

    Aside from Eve and Roarke, Eve and Peabody are my favorite pair. Love how both of those relationships continues to evolve and change. And Eve continues to bitch about it. LOL


Have you read it? What do you think?

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