STARRED REVIEW
February 2009

In J.D. Robb’s latest futuristic thriller, murder is personal

By J.D. Robb
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What began as a way to cope with being snowed in with her two young sons one winter has turned into a multimillion dollar career, though J.D. Robb—a pseudonym for mega-selling author Nora Roberts—couldn’t have known where that creative solution to boredom would lead her. A voracious reader, the Maryland native decided to try her hand at fiction writing during those snowy days in 1979 and she hasn’t stopped since, with more than 100 novels to her credit and countless appearances on the New York Times bestseller list.

The In Death series was born of necessity in 1995, when the prolific Roberts had stacked up a surplus of titles awaiting print. Intentionally moving outside the romantic suspense genre, Roberts created a gritty, urban-set, three-book story arc featuring police Lt. Eve Dallas and the mysterious billionaire Roarke. The two would work jointly—and, at times, at odds—to solve unspeakable crimes in New York City, circa 2060. Her publisher agreed to take a chance on the groundbreaking concept, publishing the books under the J.D. Robb pseudonym at Roberts’ request. (Roberts used the first initials of her sons’ names for “J.D.” and “Robb” is a diminutive of “Roberts”.)

The J.D. Robb titles quickly hit bestseller lists and gained critical acclaim, both from book reviewers and fellow writers. The information that “J.D. Robb” was really Nora Roberts was originally a well-kept secret, but the series found immediate popularity, the publisher eventually revealed the woman behind the pseudonym, and the rest, as they say, is history.

In Robb’s newest futuristic thriller, Promises in Death, New York City police Lt. Eve Dallas has a murder to solve that strikes too close to home. The victim is a fellow cop and the lover of Eve’s good friend Li Morris, the city’s chief medical examiner.

Was Det. Amaryllis Coltraine murdered with her own weapon because of a case she was investigating? Did she have personal enemies who wanted her dead? Or is her death somehow connected to the mysterious man with whom she shared a serious relationship in Atlanta two years earlier?

During the investigation, Eve begins to unravel the tangled threads of Det. Coltraine’s hidden past, and even Roarke is surprised at the revelations. Previously, he and Eve had collaborated on a case that led to the conviction of master criminal Max Riker, who is currently incarcerated in an off-planet penal colony. Neither Roarke nor Eve expected their lives would intersect with Riker or his crime organization again, yet their current investigation seems inextricably linked to the dethroned crime boss. Is it possible Riker has found a way to operate his criminal empire from behind bars—to the extent that he is capable of ordering a hit on a cop in New York City?

And as if answering all these questions to solve the complicated case isn’t difficult enough, it quickly becomes clear that someone doesn’t want her digging deeper. When Eve’s police issue vehicle is boxed in at a traffic stop and deliberately T-boned by a large van, Roarke’s blood runs cold. Has Coltraine’s killer turned his sights on Eve?

The details of the futuristic New York City setting and familiar faces in the supporting cast of characters remind the reader just how minutely Robb has crafted and populated this series. This 28th installment in the wildly popular series is sure to delight dedicated fans and garner new ones for the indomitable duo of Eve and Roarke.

Lois Faye Dyer writes from Port Orchard, Washington.

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Promises in Death

Promises in Death

By J.D. Robb
Putnam
ISBN 9780399155482

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